Target is automating more parts of its stores to free up employees' time to be on the sales floor. The mass merchant has plans to add 500 automatic cash-counting machines to stores by August and then roll them out to the rest of its store fleet by the end of the year, a Target spokeswoman confirmed to Retail Dive.
The initiative is meant as a way to more efficiently integrate the process with its banking system, the company said in a statement emailed to Retail Dive. No employees will be cut as a result, although the now automated duties previously added up to a full shift, the spokeswoman said. Employees that previously spent their time manually counting cash will now be freed up to help shoppers.
The automation is part of the $7 billion commitment Target made in 2017 to physical and digital growth, as well as to invest in employees. In the statement, Target said those efforts include raising the minimum wage to $11 an hour in October 2017 and a commitment to increase that to $15 by the end of 2020.
For over a year, Target has been making good on its commitment to modernize both its store and online experiences. Efforts to automate monotonous tasks and allow employees to spend more time developing an expertise on products or customer service are important as Target continues to reach for its goal of being "America's easiest place to shop."
As the price war has heated up among rivals Target, Walmart, Amazon and others, brick-and-mortar players have increasingly seen their workforce and customer service as a competitive advantage. Automation for these companies isn't about eliminating jobs, but reorganizing labor where it's best suited to make a difference. And these days, human connection can go a long way. The new cash-counting machines aren't part of a widespread effort to automate Target stores in other ways, but the mass merchant is also looking at automation to help modernize the supply chain.
Target in recent months, since buying same-day delivery startup Shipt has also doubled down on its delivery services. Target Restock, the next-day delivery service of household essentials, rolled out coast-to-coast in May and earlier this year the company announced it will begin offering free two-day shipping on hundreds of thousands of online orders. More employees are also spending time enabling a new pickup service called Drive Up, which is a part of the company's convenience push blending the ease of online shopping with in-store pickup.