Target's New eCommerce Strategy Is Turning Cartwheels

With revenue at $69,495,000,000 and its place at 38 on the Fortune 500 list, Target is America’s second largest discount store retail brand behind Walmart. Founded in Minneapolis in 1902 as Goodfellow Dry Goods, Target has been serving the people of America for over a century and offers everything from toys and technology to clothing and furniture.

Target hasn’t survived for this long by being afraid of innovation and has several programs running to make sure it is up to date with the latest trends in retail technology. Not least among them are the ones dedicated to creating exciting and unique experiences to its ever-growing base of ecommerce customers.

One such initiative with the codename “Goldfish” was recently scrapped. Details are scant, but it seems the program was considering ways of allowing third-party sellers to offer their products through the Target website – much in the way that the Amazon Marketplace operates.

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While some innovations are doomed to be flushed like the proverbial goldfish, there are others which have survived and come to fruition.


Cartwheel is Target’s omnichannel discount savings and rewards program. Initially beginning life as an independent service, Cartwheel was recently merged with the main Target app. Customers download the Target app onto their smart devices and they can start accruing points with every purchase they make – both on and offline. The app also gives them access to exclusive rewards and discounts which would otherwise be unavailable.

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If customers don’t have access to a smartphone or tablet, they can still take advantage of Cartwheel. Customers can browse the offers online, then print a unique barcode which they can present in-store in the same way as a coupon. This ensures all Target’s customers can have the best chance to access Cartwheel initiatives and not just the tech-savvy.

“We know our guests love a great value, and Cartwheel offers another fun and easy way to save money at Target,” said Casey Carl, Target's president of multichannel, at the launch of the service. “Cartwheel bridges the in-store experience with social technology to help our guests discover and share personalized deals and inspiration with their friends.”

Target Restock

Restock is another fantastic ecommerce initiative Target is deploying to stay relevant in the online age. In July 2017 Target REDcard holders in the Minneapolis area could test the service, with a planned nationwide rollout to follow shortly afterwards.

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Target Restock allows customers to quickly and easily fill an online shopping cart with their everyday essentials and have them delivered next day for a flat rate of $4.99 per box. The box can weigh a maximum of 45lbs and a progress bar shows customers how much space is left before its full. The program started with over 10,000 items available and has already risen to 15,000.

With a quick and simple way for customers to order everyday items, Target hopes to shape itself into an online convenience store. “Target Restock is all about making the Target Run easier and helping our guests save time in their busy lives,” said Mike McNamara, Chief Information and Digital Officer at Target. “We look forward to seeing how guests in our hometown market respond to this new offering.”

Virtual Showroom

A big part of Target’s business comes from the sale of furniture. However, one of the issues customers have with purchasing new furnishings for their homes is it’s often very hard to imagine the items in situ. Pictures of furniture online rarely have a sense of scale, or how they look when placed in a home.

One solution is to visit a physical showroom where mock homes will often be set-up, but this isn’t always convenient.

Target is attempting to correct this issue, by offering customers an online virtual showroom. Customers can choose from four different styles of home – modern, farmhouse, mid-century or traditional – and view selected furniture items within it in 3D. Customers can then select the items they see in the showroom and add them to their basket with a click.

Target’s virtual showroom employs the same special effects technology seen in Hollywood blockbusters, with the company looking to employ around 40 new CGI artists to further develop the service.

It’s clear Target isn’t holding back when it comes to innovating their ecommerce business. Whether through omnichannel reward schemes, online convenience stores, or virtual showrooms, Target is showing the kind of thinking which has kept it around for over a century.

The last word goes to Mike McNamara.

“We’re constantly searching for new ways to inspire our guests and make shopping at Target an easy and inspiring experience. And we’re just beginning to tap the power of CGI with this virtual reality living room – there’s a ton of potential to create even richer, engaging digital experiences for our guests.”

Virtual technology is set to be a hot topic at Etail West 2018, taking place at Palm Springs, California, this coming February.

Download the Etail West 2018 Agenda to learn more.

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