Target is enhancing its mobile app with beacon and Bluetooth technology that shows a customer’s location on the app’s map as they move about the store, Target’s chief information and digital officer Mike McNamara said in a company blog post. In a video, he likened the technology to driving with GPS.
Target's app will also point shoppers to nearby promotional prices, dubbed "Cartwheel" deals, for users of its mobile app. The new features are is set to go live in about half of Target’s stores for the holidays.
The mapping capability comes a few weeks after Target began to move its Cartwheel savings app to its flagship mobile app.
Target is adding yet another layer to its mobile capabilities. After incorporating Cartwheel to its main app, and with plans to add a mobile payment option for its REDcard loyalty users, the retailer is steadily blurring the lines of its store and digital sales approaches.
The emphasis on store mapping takes advantage of Target's brick-and-mortar legacy, something that, at least for now, remains an advantage over Amazon. Most retailers are grappling with Amazon's competition, but Target faces a particular challenge because many of its core customers overlap with Amazon's Prime membership.
"Target just took longer to feel the 'Amazon digital effect' than [Best Buy], due to the categories and customer base they play within," Matt Sargent, senior vice president of retail at Frank N. Magid Associates, said in an email to Retail Dive earlier this year. "Amazon initially went after books (successfully destroying physical book retailers), and then went onto CE and office supplies, and now are expanding into food and apparel."
The improvements to its app come amid a lot of other changes, part of a $7 billion revamp the company announced earlier this year, including an investment of more than $2 billion of capital in 2017 and more than $7 billion over the next three years.
Target will use about $1 billion of operating profits this year alone to improve brick-and-mortar and digital operations. The company is also dedicating teams to introduce more than a dozen new brands over the next two years, with the research and design approach used for the retailer’s new Cat & Jack kids apparel and Pillowfort kids home decor brands.
Earlier this month, Target also announced a new pricing strategy that appears to counter an emerging price war among Walmart, grocery stores and dollar stores. The retailer said that its teams looked at the products "most important" to its customers and made sure they’re priced right daily. Target is sweeping away "all those little signs and ads letting you know about the 'Weekly Wow!' or 'Bonus Offer'" in favor of "simple, easy messages."
"We’ve eliminated more than two-thirds of our price and offer call-outs so you can more easily spot the savings," the company said.