After a brief month and a half trial period with employees, Target has officially opened up its Target Restock program to shoppers in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, the retailer announced in a post on its website.
The next-day replenishment service of household essentials, offered exclusively to Target REDcard members, charges a flat fee of $4.99 per box, regardless of how many items are included. Shoppers can choose from more than 10,000 items as they fill their Restock boxes.
As shoppers add items to a virtual box, an on-screen percentage bar tracks how much space each item added takes up, and how much is left. The orders are filled at the nearest Target store and delivered the next business day.
From the moment of the original announcement, it was clear that Target was putting together a service to rival Amazon’s Prime Pantry program — and perhaps Amazon’s Dash replenishment program too. It’s a little disappointing then to see Target Restock proceed with a very limited initial launch after excitement started to build, although the caution may reflect how complex it is to get a program like this up and running, and working reliably. Target certainly wants to make sure it gets this program right, but for now as a competitor to Prime Pantry, it’s fairly microscopic.
A broader rollout really can’t come soon enough. Target Restock is one of the first high-profile offerings to emerge following a recent strategic shift to refocus Target's technology team on programs without lengthy incubation periods that coincide with its bottom line interests.
Target Restock also could be a major demonstration of how the retailer can leverage its brick-and-mortar stores at a local level to get orders at the door and to customers quickly. Survey results unveiled this week by fulfillment software provider Temando suggested while retailers understand the importance of recreating their own version of Amazon's Prime program, they just are not doing it fast enough for consumers.
This is not to say that Restock doesn't look like a well-designed program. The landing page and function for Target Restock make it appear easy to use and understand what products are being added and how much space shoppers have to fill in their Restock boxes. Simplicity is going to be key to the success of this program as it rolls out on a broader basis.