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Target’s Cartwheel 2.0 taps latest mobile best practices to drive conversions

Target has released version 2.0 of its popular Cartwheel iPhone application with a forward-looking approach to delivering shopping shortcuts and personalization.

The new features bring added convenience to the app’s focus on helping mobile users find and manage offers. As one of the first retail apps taking advantage of Apple’s new 3D Touch, users with a new iPhone 6S or 6S Plus phone will be able to quickly access their bar code, search and product scanning from the home screen of their phones.

“Target’s goal with 3D Touch shortcuts is convenience – providing quicker access to some of our guests’ favorite Cartwheel functions,” said Jamie Bastian, a Target spokeswoman.

“Based on research, we know our guests are interested in learning about all the functions of the Cartwheel app, so we are now offering a new onboarding experience,” she said. “When guests sign in, there is now a step-by-step guide that helps them save sooner and learn tips and tricks to enhance their savings potential.”

3D Touch
As a leader in mobile retail, Target has a history of jumping onto new capabilities quickly. This strategy ensures the retailer keeps its app fresh and exciting for users.

In addition to 3D Touch, which enables different interactions based on how long or hard a user taps the screen, Target is making a list-sorting feature available to users who have updated to the latest iPhone software, iOS 9.

“Like ‘mouse over’ and right click interactions provide on Web, 3D Touch provides a way for mobile users to access additional information at a glance,” said Woody Zantzinger, director of business development at WillowTree. “Countless studies show the correlation between effective UI and conversions – 3D Touch is simply the newest iteration of mobile best practices.

“Beyond enhancing conversions through the UI, 3D Touch provides a less tangible but important benefit,” he said. “Users who purchase new iOS devices look for applications which can take advantage of the new capabilities these provide.

“While apps without 3D Touch might have a grace period with users, soon these applications are going to seem out of date with consumers especially as major applications start updating with 3D Touch capabilities.”

List sorting
The list-sorting feature enables users to press and hold to drag and sort offers on their list according to their preferences.

The app also features a new “For You” section, where personalized offer recommendations are found.

Target introduced personalized recommendations to Cartwheel earlier this year and quickly saw a more-than 10-percent increase in the number of offers downloaded per user (see story).

“Deep personalization is the holy grail of mobile,” Mr. Zantzinger said. “Users expect relevant offers and products to reach them in the moment, whether that is location based or through their purchase history.

“In our experience complex CRM systems and the lack of integration between technical and marketing teams has made major retailers slow to produce this personalization,” he said.

“For this reason, the new and improved ‘For You’ section seems the most enticing for mobile users. It remains to be seen however if Target will successfully deliver personalized content through this new vehicle.”

Earning badges
The Cartwheel app has an enthusiastic user base among shoppers who love to look for deals. For those who tend to run out of room on their offer list, the new Cartwheel update make new badges available that users can earn to unlock more offer spots.

Target will also release a number of surprise badges during the holidays.

Recognizing how mobile shoppers increasingly expect to be able to use their favorite retailers’ apps to find items in-store, Target has also improved the mapping feature in Cartwheel. Users can tap the map icon on the bar code screen to have Cartwheel help them find their offers in-store.

With all the new features in the app, Target has added a new onboarding experience to highlight the best features of the app.

An onboarding experience is important with new features such as 3D Touch, which can be very useful but maybe confusing at first.

Finally, Target has made its permission asks more friendly, so users know exactly what the retailer is asking for and why it is important.

“In 2014 / early 2015 we saw the majority of mobile shopping apps with a single focus,” Mr. Zantzinger said. “Some apps were designing around the e-commerce experience while others focused on in-store functionality. Others were primarily a discounts and coupons experience.

“Retailers are now starting to understand you can’t control how users want to shop and when they will turn to mobile,” he said.

“The newest and most successful mobile retail applications are now looking at the entire user journey to provide valuable functionality for every user type; including bargain hunters, in-store shoppers and mobile first customers.”

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