OPERATIONS

Target offers free shipping on web orders of $50 or more

BY Dan Berthiaume

Minneapolis – Nearly all online orders of $50 or more at Target will now qualify for free shipping. The new policy, which takes effect June 23, makes tens of thousands more products eligible for free shipping.

Only oversize and heavy items will be excluded and subject to a handling fee. Target now matches Wal-Mart’s online free shipping offer but still has a higher threshold than the $35 free shipping offer from Amazon.com. Participants in Target’s Red Card loyalty program, which is free to join, always get free online shipping.

In addition to the new shipping policy, customers can now also browse Target.com for most in-store merchandise and purchase many of those items online to pick up in-store.

“We’ve heard from guests they don’t fully understand our shipping policy – so we’ve changed it to make it simpler and reduce the friction in making purchases on the site,” said Jason Goldberger, senior VP, Target.com and mobile. “Providing our guests a better free shipping offer is just one of the many ways we continue to improve the Target.com experience.”

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OPERATIONS

Starbucks shakes up afternoons with soda, sandwiches

BY Dan Berthiaume

Seattle – Starbucks appears to be targeting afternoon shoppers with new soda and sandwich offerings. Starting June 24, Starbucks is expanding its cold beverage portfolio with the addition of Fizzio handcrafted sodas at about 3,500 U.S. locations.

Fizzio sodas are carbonated fresh behind the counter and debut in three flavors. Starbucks estimates the global carbonated beverage market is worth $415 billion.

The retailer is also debuting two new sandwich options – turkey pesto panini and grilled cheese. In addition, two new Teavana iced tea flavors, as well as the option to add Fizzio carbonation to Teavana iced tea beverages, will debut June 24.

“We have heard from our customers that they’re looking for more refreshing, cold beverages, especially during the warm summer months,” said Cliff Burrows, group president, U.S., Americas and Teavana.

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MARKETING/SOCIAL MEDIA

Survey: Social media has little brand impact

BY Dan Berthiaume

Washington, D.C. – A clear majority of Americans say social media has no effect at all on their purchasing decisions. According to a new Gallup poll, 62% in the U.S. say Facebook and Twitter, among other sites, do not have any influence on their decisions to purchase products.

Only 5% say social media have "a great deal of influence" on their purchasing decisions, while another 30% say these channels have "some influence." Even Millennials tend to say that social media marketing is not much of a factor in their decision-making. Among the four major generation groups that Gallup surveyed, Millennials (those born after 1980) were the most likely to say that social media have at least some influence on their buying decisions (50%). But Millennials were nearly as likely to say social media have no influence at all (48%).

Social media’s influence on Americans’ purchasing decisions decreases with age. Among traditionalists (those born prior to 1946), a solid 75% say that social media do not have any impact on whether they purchase a product or service.

Only 29% of U.S. consumers say they use social media to follow trends and find product reviews and information, while 20% say they visit social networking sites to comment on what’s new or write product reviews. Even among American consumers who "like" or follow a company on Facebook or Twitter, 34% say that social media have no influence at all on their buying decisions, while 53% say they have some influence. Gallup research shows that when it comes to making purchasing decisions, consumers are much more likely to turn to friends, in-store displays, television commercials, and even mail catalogs and magazines than to consult a company-sponsored Facebook page or Twitter feed.

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