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Target exec predicts growth 2x industry average due to mobile innovation

BOSTON – An executive from Target at eTail East 2015 predicted that technology will become an even more integrated aspect of consumer life in the near future, and retailers need to start preparing a foundation now for this inevitability.

During the session Retail Revolution: How Digital is Transfomring Target and Fueling the Future of Shopping, the executive stressed how the age old belief is that the customer comes first in retail, but many are not cognizant of the fact that mobile and technology is the method for consumers to get the most of retailers’ services. Target believes that a mobile-first attitude is how to make a customer happy and to keep them returning to a company.

“Consumers do not think of themselves as a customer of versus being a customer at one of our stores,” said Jason Goldberger, president of and mobile at Target. “They just care about shopping with Target.

“They want to shop whenever they want, wherever they want, however they want,” he said. “Technology will play an even more fundamental role in how people will shop and of course there will still be stores, but they will be profoundly different.

“As retailers, all we can do is prepare a foundation for whatever the future holds.”

Speeding up growth
Target data predicts that by following a mobile-first strategy and working on technological services that make a consumer experience faster and easier will grow its business two to three times faster than the industry average. Customers are the most content with a retailer when they can engage with the business on a omnichannel experience.

Guests want to be able to interact with a brand on a variety of levels, but seamlessly and in a manner that they want to control. Target gives its customers a variety of options to purchase and receive products, which solidifies its positive relationship with consumers.

The mass merchant retailer knows that a significant part of its revenue stems from the well-known impulse buying that happens when customers enter its stores. However, Target is more concerned with giving its guests services that benefit them and make them happy, rather than coercing them to spend more money.

Mobile ordering, pickup, delivery and a future in curbside pickup are a few of the many methods in which Target customers can obtain its products. The retailer has also introduced a subscription service, in which customers can make monthly payments to have products that are needed often delivered to their door, without having to enter Target’s bricks-and-mortar stores.

Along with all these services, the retailer extended free shipping to all of its customers on desktop and mobile. Data had showed that most abandoned digital carts were discarded due to the shipping charge, so removing this fee not only generated a more positive brand sentiment but also resulted in higher sales.

Customer first
All these efforts posed a serious threats of incurring extra costs for the company, and lower sales rates in terms of individual customers. Target took these risks and it panned out for the retailer, growing the business as a whole and creating loyal followers that continually come back to the store for everyday products as well as big purchases.

Data shows that 25 percent of digital sales are picked up in-stores, or is shipped from a store. This increases significantly during the holiday season, when last-minute gift ideas are on everyone’s mind.

“We need to stop being channel-obsessed and start being guest-obsessed,” Mr. Goldberger said. “Every retailer says they want to put the guest first.

“But to do that requires an incredible amount of listening, research and insights to really figure out who you are trying to reach,” he said. “Then build a whole experience around what they care about most.”

Final take
Brielle Jaekel is editorial assistant at Mobile Commerce Daily