ARCHIVES: This is legacy content from before Industry Dive acquired Mobile Commerce Daily in early 2017. Some information, such as publication dates, may not have migrated over. Check out our topic page for the latest mobile commerce news.

Target merges mobile, desktop sites, cancels curbside pickup

The major retailer is shutting down its partnership pilot with mobile application Curbside, but is still focusing on its mobile efforts by bringing its mobile Web site interface to desktop and continuing its in-store pickup. While Target is known for its ability to drive significant impulse buys from in-store shoppers, it is likely that the curbside program took away from this, and may have had a few hiccups.

“We learned a lot from our 121-store pilot with Curbside and our partnership with the Curbside team,” said Eddie Baeb, spokesman at Target. “But as we have shared for months now, at this time Target is focused on making sure we deliver and execute on retail fundamentals.

“That includes devoting more efforts and resources to enhancing some of our core digital-stores offerings such as Cartwheel, Order Pickup and shipping online orders from stores,” he said. “The pilot with Curbside will be discontinued in mid-June as part of those efforts.”

Targeting mobile users
Target began its partnership with Curbside beginning in San Francisco and by October 2015 had moved into other major metropolitan areas such as New York, New Jersey, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Los Angeles. After only a few months of piloting, Target revealed it is shutting down the program on June 15.

“Sounds like [Target] is still doing in-store pickup so maybe they want to steer shoppers into stores,” said Sucharita Mulpuru-Kodali, analyst at Forrester Research. “They may just not have the skill level in stores or the inventory accuracy or best practices to make it work well.

“I do not think it is necessarily a commentary on curbside pickup,” she said. “I have seen retailers vacillate on this over the years.

“They experiment, perhaps see little traction and then they go back to programs that are quicker wins. Then they come back to these initiatives later.”

The retailer has also just revamped its mobile and desktop sites, by combining the two for a more simple and consistent user experience. The new responsive interface will adjust to whichever screen the user is accessing on.

After a survey revealed that 80 percent of Target shoppers start their retail experience or inquiring on one device they likely finish on another, Target wanted to make a more seamless transition between the various screens.

In-store targeting
Target’s standalone shopping app, Cartwheel, tested a new feature enabling users to leverage manufacturers’ digital coupons, which offer dollar amount discounts rather than a percentage, giving customers access to increased savings opportunities (see more).

The retailer also drove sales of household products by placing signage in designated in-store aisles, prompting shoppers to text a keyword to a phone number to receive an exclusive mobile coupon (see more).

The mobile landscape is always uneasy, which means retailers such as Target need to be consistently changing their strategy. The cancelation of its curbside pickup is indicative of this.

“We know that drive-throughs, which are a variant of curbside pickup, do very well,” Ms. Mulpuru-Kodali said. “What I will say is that Target’s store operations have a lot to be desired.

“There are constantly lines in my experience and they recently put in self checkout which has a lot of flaws–no one managing the process, lightweight items not registering, etc,” she said. “It suggests that Target does not excel at great store operations process which could be the reason they abandoned curbside, not that there was a problem with curbside itself.”