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Target meets last-minute shoppers’ needs via mobile services, offers

During the final week of the holiday shopping season, Target is ramping up efforts to bring added convenience to last-minute shoppers via a variety of mobile services, including special offers, store pickup and gift cards.

According to a new survey from location-based mobile app Retale, 20 percent of all holiday shoppers wait until the last-minute to buy their gifts and 58 percent will use smartphones or tablets to help them shop. Target, which is letting shoppers place mobile orders on Christmas Eve as late as 5 p.m. and pick them up that day, is a great example of how mobile can be used to capture last minute sales.

“Mobile will play a big role in Target’s last-minute shopping push this year, as it has throughout the holiday shopping season,” said Eddie Baeb, a Target spokesman. “Both sales and traffic on mobile devices are up significantly from last year.

“We’re also seeing strong usage – on desktop and mobile – of Target’s store pickup option,” he said.

“Target also believes the new shopping lists and interactive store maps on the Target iPhone app will help guests quickly and easily find the items on their last-minute shopping lists.”

Christmas Eve shopping
Target is leading the way this holiday season in leveraging mobile to meet the needs of last-minute shoppers.

For shoppers who miss Target’s Dec. 20 cut off for online orders that can be delivered by Christmas, the chain is offering the ability for shoppers to place an order online from their mobile phone and pick it up at a nearby store.

The 5 p.m. cutoff on Christmas Eve is the latest for same-day store pickup Target has ever offered for this day. Last year, the cutoff was 2 p.m.


The Cartwheel app features more than 150 last-minute offers.

Cartwheel, Target’s mobile savings app that boasts more than 12 million users, is offering 50 percent off a different toy every day until Dec. 24.

Also, from now until Christmas, Cartwheel will feature more than 150 offers at 25 percent off or more. Top deals include 15 percent off Sony PlayStation 4 bundles, 15 percent off iPad Air 2 and 30 percent off children’s apparel.

Mobile gift cards
With many consumers preferring to give gift cards during the holidays and mobile an easy way to order, store and redeem gift cards.

Target claims to be the first retailer to offer mobile gift cards in 2009.

This year, Target is enabling shoppers to scan gift cards in Target stores with smartphone and send a card directly to a friend.

A new report from the Interactive Advertising Bureau underscores the importance of convenient mobile services and offers to meet the needs of holiday shoppers.

When U.S. smartphone owners were asked for the most important reasons they will shop during the season via their devices, 51 percent said to get the best price or save money, 36 percent want to save time and 35 are interested in making it quick and easy to research and find items of interest.

Nearly two-thirds of U.S. smartphone users said that they plan on researching, shopping for, or purchasing products via their smartphone this holiday season.

Holiday home stretch 
Making it easy for shoppers find ratings, reviews and other product information while they are shopping in-store is another important tactic that meets the needs of last-minute shoppers.

“Smartphones particularly fit the use-case for last minute in-store purchasers that still want to read ratings and reviews, check prices, etc., so we definitely expect another huge mobile traffic spike as we head into the holiday home stretch,” said Jason Goldberg, vice president of commerce strategy at Razorfish.

Some of the other strategies that retailers should have in place to leverage mobile to meet the needs of last-minute shoppers include inventory availability, gift guides and personalized promotions.

“As we get closer to holiday cutoffs, retailers need to focus on selling what they still have in inventory and can deliver in time for the holidays,” Mr. Goldberg said. “So omni-channel shopping becomes increasingly important.

“Consumers want to be able to check inventory before they visit a store, so retailers need to make that in-store inventory visible from mobile devices,” he said. “Last minute gift guides that are dynamically updated based on available inventory, or localized to the inventory of a particular store are a great practice.

“Because there likely isn’t deep inventory of a single product available, promotions that are personalized and offer different assortments to each shopper are most effective.”

A consistent leader 
Target has been a consistent a leader in mobile marketing and this holiday season is no exception.

For example, last month Target streamlined in-store holiday shopping for its guests with the introduction of navigation features, such as interactive maps and shopping lists within its mobile application (see story).

In October, the retailer introduced a wish list application enabling parents to see, manage and share kids’ favorite items that also integrates with the retailer’s print catalog via augmented reality (see story).

Earlier in the fall, Target revamped its mobile strategy, introducing two-step checkout, a standalone pharmacy application and in-store iPads for gift registries (see story).

“The retailers that have tackled mobile the best so far this holiday season have focused on easy to navigate gift guides or gift finders, as well as inventory availability and in-store pickup,” said Nikki Baird, managing partner at Retail Systems Research. “I think those two capabilities will continue to serve them well, especially the in-store inventory availability and pickup as consumers chase down harder-to-find gifts.”

Final Take
Chantal Tode is senior editor on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York