Target on Monday said on a company blog that it’s expanding a curbside pickup pilot, dubbed "Drive Up," to customers in the Minneapolis-St. Paul market. In July, the retailer told Retail Dive that it was launching a test of the service with just its employees in the area, near the corporate headquarters.
It’s the second try for Target, which had previously worked with startup Curbside at some stores in 2014. That effort came to a halt last year as Chief Technology Officer Mike McNamara scaled back a number of projects.
- To use the service, customers place an order in the Target app and selects “Drive Up” as the delivery option. Target then notifies them when the order is ready for pickup, and customers in turn tap an "I’m on My Way" button when they are en route to their store. At that point, a Target team member gets ready to greet them with their order once they've pulled into the parking spots designated for Drive Up.
In a blog post announcing the re-ignition of its curbside service, Target made a point of this iteration now being "built in-house by Target."
Just before ending its experiment with Curbside, the retailer had touted the scheme publicly as an ideal way to use physical stores to provide convenience to customers (while, presumably, having them take care of the very last, and expensive, mile).
The reboot suggests that Target never did abandon the idea but preferred to build from within, with a new team. Then-Target Chief Digital Officer Jason Goldberger, who had talked up the curbside experiment as a key omnichannel effort left abruptly soon after, departing the company in September last year after just four months into that role and three years with the company.
In any case, Target does appear to be dedicated to the curbside service, saying Monday that it plans to expand the program. Right now it's available for Twin Cities customers using the latest version of the Target app on an iPhone. Home furnishings, toys, electronics, household essentials, non-perishable food and baby-care products are among the nearly 200,000 eligible items designated for the service.
According to research released last year, 61% of retailers worldwide use some sort of buy-online, pickup in-store service. Last year also saw CVS partner with Curbside to launch CVS Express, a curbside pickup effort rolled out to all of the drug store retailer's 8,000 U.S. locations.
"I think what’s happening in retail is that everyone’s been homing in on this notion that the best retail experience is to allow the consumer to be in charge of the purchase," Bridget Johns, head of customer experience at in-store analytics firm RetailNext, told Retail Dive in 2016. "Click-and-collect, or curbside, is a great way to extend loyalty to your customer. And I think if retailers stop pushing their own channel complex onto the consumer, it’s going to be a win for everyone."