16 of Target’s embarrassing (but entertaining) in-store execution mistakes

Over the weekend the popular social news company Buzzfeed posted 16 embarrassing (but entertaining) images of poorly executed merchandising displays at Target. With over 2 Million views, Target must be very aware they a big issue on their hands now. Even though Target was the butt of the joke, many other retailers have no tools in place to control the management of what products and signage are actually placed in each store.

Take a look of some of the mistakes taken place on the sales floor:

1. The time they might have caused a sexual awakening in a lot of teenage readers:


3. The time they put this unfortunate image in people’s heads:


4. The time they failed to grasp what healthy food is:


6. The time they didn’t understand what “clearance” meant:


8. The time they pushed the limit on how much people will pay for a banana:


For the full list please visit: http://www.buzzfeed.com/briangalindo/16-times-target-failed-so-hard-they-won?bffb&utm_term=4ldqpgp#205wm2c

Target’s Call To Action: Regain ‘Merchandising Authority’

Posted by Forbes

Target CFO, John Mulligan, took a wide range of questions on the company’s Q2 earnings call Wednesday morning. There are some positive signs amid apparent weakness.

Results were in line with what Target projected on August 5.  Sales for the quarter were flat, but improved every month, and actually turned positive in the last six weeks of the quarter.  Digital sales were up 30 percent, and mobile site visits increased more than 60 percent over last year. Digital and mobile contributed significantly to the company’s comparable sales.  In-store traffic continues to be down, but it has improved significantly from Q4 2013, when the data breach apparently caused it to fall off the table.

With regard to the data breach, Mr. Mulligan reported that all Target’s internal metrics indicate the vast majority of Target shoppers have put that disaster behind them.  Those metrics focus on consumer trust and confidence.  Any remaining customer mistrust was deemed “immaterial” to the company’s business results and expected to dissipate over time.

In Canada, Q2 sales increased 63 percent, but fell short of the company’s expectations. The company is planning what amounts to a re-launch in Canada, but Mr. Mulligan said there was still work to be done before Target invited guests to give Target another look.  Apparently, the original assortment in Canada was a subset of the US assortment, missing key items and categories the Canadian customer was looking for – specifically, unique products. In truth, that’s what the US customer has been missing as well. However, before the marketing re-launch in Canada, the company is working to improve its supply chain and systems to support a better in-stock position.



Picture taken approaching the Target store in West Hollywood, California. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In fact apparently store associates in Canada, loathe to look at empty shelves, had done their own re-sets within the stores to fill in the gaps.  This created cascading problems when new merchandise actually did arrive – there was no longer anywhere to put it.  So the company is working to re-institute corporate standards in stores.

Certainly there was a lot of talk about the current hyper-promotional environment in the US. Every retailer seems to have its own spin on the root cause of this promotional madness: Target’s take is flat wages in the face of inflated food prices. We can expect more promotions in the holiday season, even as Target recognizes it will put downward pressure on gross margin (and, I believe, also on top-line sales).

But in many ways, these are nuts and bolts, and not core to Target’s problem. The most important statements Mr. Mulligan made were the recognition that Target has lost what Mr. Mulligan called its “Merchandising Authority” and is taking steps to regain that authority.  Re-defining this Merchandising Authority will take some time: specifically, as we pointed out in an earlier piece, new product introductions can take from six to nine months.  The goal is to re-excite the consumer about the products Target sells both on-line and in-store. The company has already done a baby product re-set and is moving on to apparel.

Merchandising Authority is a very important term, and describes “old Target” better than any words I could come up with.  From TV ads, to billboards, to the actual products you’d see on web sites and in stores, Target was reliably edgy and chic. The battle for grocery dollars was part and parcel of the race to the bottom, and “recent Target” gave customers little reason to avoid H&M for clothes, or West Elm for home goods. There was not a lot of freshness there. In this case, it’s great to hear a company acknowledge its real problem.

There’s no doubt that we’ll see more promotions in Q4. The retail environment remains challenging, and the race to the bottom continues.  But looking forward to 2015, if Target can regain that Merchandising Authority, perhaps it can increase trips to stores and digital channels based on product freshness, while staying close on price.

Some may say “In a race to the bottom, the company with the lowest cost wins.”  I believe that those who stay out of the fray, and focus instead on innovative products and superior customer service always win. That doesn’t give any company carte blanche on price.  Products still need to be priced sharply. But it does mean that there are better battles to fight.  Target’s analysis is right on Target.





How do stores suck you in?

Sales and promotions of course! Who doesn’t love a sale? These days you almost feel guilty buying a product or service for full price. Based on a recent survey from Nielsen, Canadians love bargains so much that 75% only buy items when they are on sale! When an astonishing percentage of the population only considers buying items on sale, retailers have no choice in becoming more promotion intensive. Instead of the traditional 4 times a year sale promotions, some retailers are promoting bi-weekly sales and discounts.

In a video posted by Yahoo Finance – Canada reveals tactics retailers use to attract customers by “discounting” items and how sale prices are determined. Below, we’ve highlighted how to point out if you are getting a real deal or the sale is a retail strategy trick in getting customers to buy more.

Price experts say it’s all in the price tag:


* Image from Yahoo Finance – Canada

For Target: All priced items ending .99 is considered full-priced. When the last cent ends in either a 4 or an 8, the item is on clearance. On the top of the price tag is a number that represents the percentage the item is discounted at.


* Image from Yahoo Finance – Canada

For Old Navy and The Gap: Final number ending in 7 is considered a final markdown price.


To view the video:







Target’s new artsy Grand Central pop-up shop

If you are walking through Grand Central this week, chances are you will see quite an unusual installation that bridges retail and art. In support of a new bath and beauty line, Target has created a pop-up shop in the high-traffic area that features a floating bathtub and retail shop, according to Chain Store Age.


From the article:

Target is celebrating the launch of Sonia Kashuk’s new line bath and body products collection with a larger-than-life art installation and pop-up store in New York City’s Grand Central Station. The centerpiece of the space is a gleaming white bathtub on a platform that is raised some eight feet off the floor. A live model sits in the tub, which is surrounded by bubble-like balloons.

The new line, which includes shower gels, body lotions, loofas and shower caps, is on display in the pop-up and available for sale.

In tandem with the launch, the brand is running an Instagram contest: Four winners who tag #skbody will be entered to win “a full scent family of products.”


Target to include in-store pickups during holiday push

Gearing up for the holidays, Target will begin offering in-store pickup at all US retail stores beginning November 1st for orders placed online. According to Chain Store Age, Target will also make a big push during “Cyber Week,” the week including Cyber Monday.


From the article:

Target’s overall holiday campaign, themed “My Kind Of Holiday,” will extend across all channels, including broadcast, radio, in-store, catalogs, digital and social media.

Beginning in November, Target will invite consumers to join the conversation by using the hashtag #MyKindofHoliday. The company is also bringing social media into its stores and its catalogs. Starting Nov. 18, Target will highlight about 100 holiday products across all areas of its stores that have been trending well on Pinterest. It will also make reference to Pinterest in its holiday catalogs.

In other key initiatives, the discounter is extending the timeframe of its price match policy for the holiday season beyond the typical-seven day window. If a customer purchases a qualifying item at Target between Nov. 1 and Dec. 21 and then finds it for less at Target.com, a local competitor’s printed ad or at select online retailers, Target will match the price.


Target takes a page from Apple’s retail playbook

Target’s latest efforts to drive increased focus on their electronics offerings might leave customers feeling a sense of deja vu. According to the Star Tribune, Target is taking a page from Apple’s retail playbook and going for a streamlined, minimalistic approach to their electronics department, similar to Apple’s retail store.


From the article:

“It’s more a minimalist approach with space for consumers to touch and test the merchandise,” said Chris Christopher, director of consumer electronics at IHS Global Insight in Massachusetts.

And it comes at a time when electronics sellers are seeing a major shift in product mix as the space that used to be devoted to cameras — which are declining rapidly in sales — gives way to square footage for cellphones.

Target is testing the format to give customers a more convenient way to interact with products and services, said spokeswoman Erica Julkowski. “Guests are looking for more interactive ways to make purchasing decisions about the latest technology,” she wrote in a statement.

The concept is being tested at stores in Brooklyn Park, Mankato, Ridgedale and the Quarry location in Minneapolis, as well as outside Minnesota. There was no word on how long the test will last or when Target executives might decide whether to bring the idea to the rest of its approximately 1,800 stores nationwide.


Target and Walmart testing smaller urban stores

Target and Walmart see expansion through smaller stores, at least in urban areas. According to Pacific Business News, Walmart’s “Neighborhood Market” and Target’s “City Target” both seek to bring the experience of their brands to areas within cities they have not traditionally ventured.


From the article:

According to the CoStar Group, Wal-Mart President and CEO Bill Simons said the Bentonville, Ark.-based retailer plans to open more than 200 Neighborhood Market stores in the United States over the next 18 months, which would boost the total number to more than 500.

In Hawaii, Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT) recently bought the former Macy’s building in Downtown Honolulu for $25.9 million and is currently renovating the 80,000-square-foot space for a new store.

CoStar Group reports Target (NYSE: TGT) is testing its City Target format with seven stores ranging from 80,000 to 100,000-square-feet in Los Angeles, Chicago, Seattle and Portland. Target has four stores in Hawaii that average about 150,000-square-feet each.

Target Retail Accelerator, Divvy, Retail localization

Target’s Retail Accelerator Awards Group Shopping App top Prize

According to Chain Store Age, the winner of the $75,000 grand prize is group shopping app Divvy. The Retail Accelerator is designed to challenge developers to build new digital shopping experiences for Target.

Target Retail Accelerator, Divvy, Retail localization

From the article:

The Divvy concept is designed to improve the group shopping experience by allowing multiple users to update a shopping list in real time while making it easier to split the bill and distribute receipts. A group of New York-based digital developers and co-workers called Team Pilot submitted the winning application.

The Retail Accelerator drew more than 350 registrants and 76 completed entries between March and April 2013. Seven finalists were selected in May received $10,000 to build their concepts into functioning prototypes and then in June presented to a panel of Target executives.

“The Retail Accelerator set out to find fresh and innovative ideas for a new mobile experience for Target, and the developer community absolutely exceeded our expectations,” said Casey Carl, Target’s president of multichannel and senior VP of enterprise strategy. “Selecting a winner wasn’t easy. But Team Pilot’s ability to make group shopping more convenient and seamless for guests made the project stand out above the others.”

Disney Princess Week, Target Corporation

Target Hosts Disney Royalty

Partnering with Disney for the second year in a row, Target Corporation helped launch the 2nd annual National Princess Week. According to In-Store Marketer, the campaign involved an interactive wall where attendees could send a text message and receive a call from a princess, in addition to selling toys and videos.

Disney Princess Week, Target Corporation

From the article:

A supporting page on target.com also highlighted Merida while promoting the phone-call offer. Links on the page connected visitors to related products in the website’s e-commerce section. A display ad running throughout April linked to the page. Supporting display ads also ran on consumer websites including disney.com and discovery.com.

Target’s April 21 circular carried a half-page feature promising a free Merida doll from Mattel Inc.’s Disney Princess Sparkling Princess line with purchase of five related home videos. Among other products, the feature also showcased the latest title in Hatchette Book Group USA’s The Very Fairy Princess children’s series by depicting co-author and actress Julie Andrews — who also serves as National Princess Week spokesperson. (Andrews writes the series with her daughter.)

Target Pop-up store, grand central station, visual merchandising

Grand Central Station Plays Home to new Target Dollhouse Pop-Up Store

Target is looking to capitalize on the hot trend of home goods and furnishings with their newest retail concept, a two story pop-up store in the middle of Grand Central Station.

Target Pop-up store, grand central station, visual merchandising

According to Chain Store Age, the store stands 21 feet tall and covers roughly 1,500 square feet. It features head-to-toe furnishings from their new Threshold brand, complete with an outdoor area.

From the article:

The house carries about two dozen products shoppers can purchase by using their smartphones to scan a QR code. The retailer will later ship the product.

Workers built the temporary installation, which is made up of interlocking panels, in Queens and then moved the structure to Grand Central. The installation opened on Monday and will close at the end of day Tuesday.

Target’s latest pop-up comes weeks before J.C. Penney Co. is set to make a splash of its own, with the opening of its multiple branded in-store home shops.