Featured image via Flickr user Mike Mozart
Get ready to relearn how to navigate the aisles of your local Target. Last Monday during the Shoptalk retail and e-commerce event in Las Vegas, the company unveiled what it’s calling its “most ambitious store re-design to date” as a part of its plans to invest billions of dollars over the next three years to “reimagine” hundreds of Target stores.
The first “fully reimagined store” will open in October 2017 in Richmond, a Houston suburb near Grand Parkway Southwest. Also in October, 40 additional stores (Target did not specify the locations of these stores) will add elements of this redesign when they are updated, with customer feedback and learnings from this new design influencing how the company approaches the 500 stores to be “reimagined” in 2018 and 2019.
“With our next generation of store design, we’re investing to take the Target shopping experience to the next level by offering more elevated product presentations and a number of time-saving features,” said Target CEO Brian Cornell. “The new design for this Houston store will provide the vision for the 500 reimagined stores planned for 2018 and 2019, with the goal of taking a customized approach to creating an enhanced shopping experience.”
Two Entrances with Two Different Purposes
In a hurry? One of the most notable features of this redesign is the addition of a second entrance intended for shoppers who just want to get in and out. This entrance will have easy access to the grocery department, a wine and beer shop, self-checkout lanes, a dedicated order pickup counter and its own dedicated parking spaces where Target employees will bring out online orders.
The first entrance as you know it today will also change; it will be redesigned with the meandering shopper in mind. Curved aisles (instead of squared off ones) and elevated product displays will be added to encourage shoppers to browse. CBS News reports that LED track lighting will replace the current fluorescent light fixtures, and brand boutiques designed to emulate specialty and department stores will highlight rotating displays.
Employees Armed with New Tech
Much like the mobile cash register devices coming to Kohl’s stores, Target employees will be equipped with new technology starting this fall. Employees will soon have the ability to search inventory, take payments and set up deliveries right from the sale floor using mobile devices. Perhaps a nod to the convenience of the e-commerce experience, this new in-store tech will allow Target “team members” to help customers no matter where they are in the store.
Improved Grocery Shopping Experience
Not only will Target be redesigning its grocery department, the company has also hired former Kroger executive Jeff Burt to head up its grocery business. Burt was with Kroger for 30 years, most recently as the president of the Fred Meyer division. Mark Tritton, Target executive vice president and chief merchandising officer, says Burt will “help advance and execute Target’s food and beverage strategy, which is centered on defining a differentiated guest experience through a curated assortment, quality products and competitive prices.”
Very few details of the grocery department redesign have been released. All we know at this point is that it will feature wood-grain fixtures, a “robust” assortment of fresh produce, and grab-and-go options and meal solutions.
According to CNBC, one-fifth of Target’s annual revenue comes from its grocery business, and it has been under pressure to revamp its food services after receiving criticism from Wall Street that it was moving too slowly. However, Target CEO Brian Cornell reiterated during a recent investor day in Manhattan that Target is not a full-service grocer. Unlike competitors like Walmart, which uses food to bring shoppers into stores, Target will continue to use groceries to get shoppers to add more items to their carts.
Burt will start his new role with Target on April 10.
In-Person Experience Relevant Despite Growth of E-Commerce
With all of the physical stores closings we’ve been reporting — from Sears and Kmart to Gander Mountain to JCPenney — it might come as a shock to hear Target is investing so much in its physical stores, especially after the company has had a drop in shoppers at its stores and reported three consecutive quarters of declines in in-store sales, according to CNBC. However, CNBC reports that Target competitor Walmart has actually brought in more in-store customers and seen an increase in in-store sales despite the company’s heavy investments in in the e-commerce space (see ModCloth Joining Walmart Under Jet.com Purchase and Walmart to Foster Startup Growth with Silicon Valley Incubator).
Walmart’s success shows us that the in-store experience isn’t dead, and Target is looking to keep its physical stores relevant despite the growth of e-commerce, particularly to millennials who have overtaken baby boomers as the nation’s largest living generation, according to Pew Research Center.
“We’ve got to reimagine that store experience,” Cornell said then. “Today’s millennial shopper doesn’t enjoy shopping one of our tired stores that hasn’t been touched in 10 years.”
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