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Target revamps iPhone app to improve in-store experience

With the revamp, the retailer has made it easier for users to set their Target stores and to connect to the free in-store Wi-Fi. A growing number of retailers are offering in-store Wi-Fi as mobile users increasingly engage with their devices inside retail stores to look for product reviews, product details and other information.

“One thing we learned following the launch of free Wi-Fi in all our stores late last year was that was by far the site most commonly accessed by guests while shopping in our stores,” said Eddie Baeb, a spokesman for Target, Minneapolis, MN.

“Mobile purchases now constitute more than 7 percent of Target’s digital sales and mobile traffic is now more than 25 percent of our overall digital traffic,” he said. “As mobile continues to grow in importance, we’re focused on creating in-store guest experiences and testing new technologies that make smartphones an even more useful shopping companion, with enhanced mobile product search, maps and shopping lists.

“We’re also exploring ways to integrate relevant product offers and promotions with the in-store mobile shopping experience.”

In-store use
Target regularly updates and refines its apps, which is necessary to insure that features meet customers’ expectations and that content is fresh, so users come back repeatedly.

The first time users open the new app, they are greeted with a message informing them that the app has been redesigned to make it easier to shop in their local store on the go and asks them to set their store. Once users pick a store, they are asked to create an account to take advantage of the new features.

While retailers are concerned that customers may be using their smartphones in stores to compare prices and ultimately purchase online from another merchant, many recognize it is better to ensure in-store shoppers have a satisfying experience by providing access to information they want rather than trying to prevent this behavior.

Sliding navigation
Easy navigation is crucial for mobile apps because screen sizes are small and users are often on the go, meaning they need to find what they are looking for quickly.

With this in mind, Target replaced the drawer navigation that previously appeared at the bottom of the screen with a panel that slides out from the left side of the screen when users touch a button at the top of the screen.

Target previously updated its iPad and Android apps with sliding panel navigation as well.

On the iPhone app, when the panel slides out, users see a list of options they can tap on, such as Browse, Weekly Ads, Deals & Coupons, Stores and TargetLists.

“We believe [slide panel navigation] is intuitive for guests and allows us to provide easier access to more tools and functionality,” Mr. Baeb said.

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