STORE SPACES

Target rolls out new technologies to improve its in-store shopping experience

BY Marianne Wilson

Target’s tech team has been bush these past few months.

In a blog on its website Tuesday, the retailer announced a series of tech enhancements to its stores nationwide, including the launch of a new app, called “myCheckout,” for store associates. The app, built by Target’s tech team, enables an associate to search Target’s website for desired products the customer can’t find in the store. The associate can then place an online order and have it shipped directly to the customer’s home. The associate can also take the shopper’s payment on the spot with a credit card reader that’s attached to the handheld device.

Target began testing the service in in the spring. To see a video on the service, click here.

“MyCheckout combines the best of Target technology, supply chain and our expanded online assortment to help guests find what they’re looking for without missing a beat,” the company stated. “And it’s working. We’ve already done more than 10,000 transactions since we began testing the service in select stores this spring.”

In addition, Target has improved its self-checkout. Target’s tech team developed new, back-end software for the system and a new-look for the front end that is simpler and more intuitive for customers.

“Since the new system went live in August, our self-checkout lanes are running smoother and faster than ever, sending guest satisfaction scores way up,” Target stated.

In other enhancements:

• Target recently completed major upgrades to its network infrastructure that has more than doubled Wi-Fi bandwidth to its stores. The more robust network everything from Wi-Fi to checkout registers to staffers’ handheld devices work better, the company said.

The overhaul also included a new backup system that was tested by Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma in Texas, Louisiana and Florida. More than 120 Target locations were impacted and went onto the backup network. All but two maintained connectivity throughout the storms.

• Target’s tech team created custom bots to help tackle store IT issues. As soon as the bots detect a glitch, they immediately begin troubleshooting and putting fixes in place, often before anyone at the store (associates or shoppers) even realizes there is an issue. The bots have saved 1,000 store team member hours since rolling out over September and October, the company said.

“We’re using cutting-edge technology to make it easier, faster and more convenient for guests to shop Target stores,” stated Mike McNamara, Target’s chief information and digital officer. “Technology is increasingly vital to make sure Target can deliver like nobody else — both in our stores and online. We’re excited to have these store upgrades ready for guests as we head into the busy holiday season.”

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Sharper Image in store comeback — for limited time

BY CSA STAFF

Sharper Image has returned to brick-and-mortar retailing for the holidays.

The brand has opened a holiday pop-up in the heart of Times Square. It’s Sharper Image’s first storefront since it filed for bankruptcy and closed its 187 stores nearly 10 years ago. The two-level temporary space offers a curated selection of Sharper Image products, ranging from drones to temperature-controlled memory foam pillows to VR viewers, in a hands-on, try-before-you-buy-it environment.

“Sharper Image has always invited discovery of, and hands-on experiences with the best in tech-enabled gear for fun and home, at accessible prices and exceptional value,” said David Conn, CEO, ThreeSixty Group, which owns the Sharper Image brand. “Our holiday selection, available at our exciting Times Square pop-up, and America’s leading retailers, showcases what Sharper Image is all about today, and that’s having fun!”

In time for the holidays, the items featured in the Sharper Image pop-up are also available at such retailers as Target, Kohl’s, Bed Bath & Beyond.

ThreeSixty Group designs, manufacturers and sells consumer products under a portfolio of owned and licensed brands to more than 70,000 U.S. retailers. The company acquired the Sharper Image brand in 2016. (The Sharper Image catalog and website are owned and operated separately, but ThreeSixty sells merchandise to both wholesale.).

ThreeSixty also owns FAO Schwarz, which it acquired in fall 2016. The Bon-Ton Stores recently announced plans to open FAO Schwarz toy departments in 186 of its department stores and also on its website.

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Samsung opens up tech-lovers paradise – at Macy’s

BY Marianne Wilson

Samsung is partnering with Macy’s on an experiential in-store shop concept.

Macy’s and Samsung announced the launch of a Samsung “experience” at the retailer’s flagship location at Herald Square in New York City. Opening Nov. 1, the 1,000-sq.-ft. shop will allow customers to test and purchase the full range of Samsung products and accessories, including an assortment of the brand’s innovative technologies in virtual reality, tablets, mobile, wearables, along with the refrigerator, QLED television, home audio and smart home categories. It will offer one-on-one “concierge-like” customer assistance.

“With the new Samsung experience at Macy’s Herald Square, we are creating an innovative and beautiful, one-of-a-kind digital playground in a flagship department store, featuring numerous installations and touch points for customer engagement,” said Marc Mastronardi, Macy’s executive VP of business development.

The Samsung shop is on the main floor of Macy’s Herald Square. It includes a 4-D virtual reality roller coaster experience for customers powered by Samsung’s Oculus.

 

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