The Evolution of Target’s Approach to E-commerce


A polished gameplan is essential if you plant to compete in the world of e-commerce as a successful seller. Brands try to drive up their e-commerce sales through targeted advertising, data analytics, and social media influencers, but what they can offer the customer typically matters more than what they have to say.


Target is one of the biggest businesses in the world, yet it’s not at the very top of the e-commerce nor traditional retail lists. By improving its range of e-commerce services, Target can hope to reach a wider audience and access new markets.


Fortunately for Target, they continue to unleash new services, features, and concepts that bring people through its physical and digital doors. Led by new services like Cartwheel, Target Restock, Drive Up, and Shipt, the retail giant aims to make up some e-commerce ground against competitors like Amazon.


Target Logo on the smartphone


Stepping Up Target’s E-Commerce Appeal

Target is already an obvious choice when it comes to physical retail, but it’s constantly making strides in the world of e-commerce as well; it has to when its competitors include the likes of Amazon and Walmart. It’s taken a number of steps in the right direction lately, specifically in the forms of its rewards program Cartwheel and Target Restock, which aims to save customers time by streamlining the shopping process.

  • Cartwheel — Although it’s actually been incorporated into the Target app and is no longer its own entity, Cartwheel was once its own separate rewards program. Now, as a feature of the main app, it allows customers to earn points whenever they make purchases. Users also get access to rewards and discounts for members only. Whether you make your purchase online or offline, you’ll get points that you can use to redeem rewards.

  • Target Restock —  If you shop at Target regularly and you want to save yourself some time on shopping runs, Target Restock has you covered. The app lets you quickly add the items on your grocery list to your cart and have your products delivered to you the next day. The flat rate for shipping is $4.99 per box, with each box capable of holding up to 45 pounds.


Even the way Target is using its brick-and-mortar buildings is changing. Now the brand is looking at its stores as product fulfillment centers, allowing shoppers to make purchases online and pick up their products at local stores.


"By improving its range of e-commerce services, Target can hope to reach a  wider audience and access new markets"  -Click to Tweet-


Target and Omnichannel

If e-commerce has taught us anything, it’s that there is an infinite amount of ways we can sell our goods. Omnichannel marketing means using a multitude of channels to promote your products. This can include social media marketing, physical retail, email marketing, and more. Omnichannel is the integration of and cohesion between all of the different channels that can be used to engage customers.


Omnichannel isn’t just about the way brands put content in front of people; it’s also about the way users experience your brand as a whole. What makes it omnichannel is that all of the channels work in tandem with each other. Concepts like cross-platform integration and the Internet of Things could play increasingly important roles in this holistic take on brand involvement in our daily lives.


Target, like all of the big businesses that budding e-commerce shops model themselves after, is quickly recognizing the importance of omnichannel marketing and running with it. In addition to building up the buzz with social media, the mobile app bridges the gap between the physical and digital worlds for a more fluid customer experience.


Target has two more new services that use elements of both e-commerce and traditional retail:

  • Drive Up — People who want the low-pressure atmosphere of shopping online and the satisfaction of getting their products immediately can have the best of both worlds thanks to Drive Up. You’ll shop on the Target app the way you normally would, but at checkout, you’ll select Drive Up. Once you finish shopping, Target will gather your products for you. Wait for the sign that you’re ready, then let Target know you’re on your way for pickup. Find a designated parking spot and wait for someone to bring your order out to your car. Now you can even take advantage of Cartwheel offers through Drive Up.

  • Shipt —  Much like Drive Up, Target uses Shipt to give customers more ways to shop. The customer creates an order through the app or website and then is put in touch with the person who will actually go and pick out the items. This ensures that everything goes smoothly and there are no miscommunications. Then the buyer just has to schedule a delivery time and wait for the completed grocery list to arrive. Shipt uses an e-commerce foundation that delivers same-day goods.


Target storefront


How Target Plans to Move Into New Markets

Believe it or not, even companies like Target have markets that they haven’t dominated yet. Identifying and accessing these untapped markets can be difficult, but the big names know how to expand. Here are three ways the mega-chain plans to lay claim to new territories in the future.

  1. Opening Up to Third Parties — When you’re trying to make yourself appealing to a new market, it helps if you already have an in. Target is now reaching out to more third party sellers and inviting them to use their online store. Only businesses that receive invitations will be welcome to participate, and the customers that follow these existing businesses will soon be using the Target platform to buy their goods. Bringing more and various creators on board will introduce new people to the community and could turn into opportunities for both sides.

  2. Expanding Delivery Features — New programs like Drive Up and Shipt make shopping more convenient, but for many groups of people, it could be more than a matter of convenience. If you have mobility problems, anxiety or a mood disorder, or you simply don’t speak the local language very well, going out in the world to shop for yourself can be a trying experience. More ways to shop, especially those that are efficient and include minimal interaction, make it easier for people from all walks of life to get what they need comfortably and conveniently.

  3. Rewarding Customers with Target Circle — Although it’s still a young concept, Target is loosening its restrictions on who has access to its loyalty program, Target Circle. The program offers free birthday rewards, asks your opinion on matters that affect your community, and most importantly, gives you 1% back on every trip. You’ll have to come back again to put your savings toward your next purchase, which means you’re spending more time in the store. The exclusive rewards that come with Target Circle membership make the club hard to ignore, and now that it’s being opened to more people, it could help the transition into new markets.



Target has taken many steps to solidify its place in the future of retail. They've acquired companies to streamline the shopping experience and adopted an omnichannel approach to reach customers across a diverse array of platforms and devices. Take a page out of Target’s playbook and start diversifying your approach to online selling. What does your social engagement look like on a weekly basis? Are you planning any promotions to drive traffic to your site or listing? Do you have a pop-up shop in the works to get people talking? These are just a few questions you need to constantly address if you plan to succeed in the long run as an e-commerce seller.

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