Speed (or a Lack Thereof) Kills: Why App Performance is a Priority for Target
In a session last week at the Shop.org conference in Los Angeles, Grace Glenny, director of site merchandising at Target, discussed how the big-box chain is ensuring its mobile app is primed for performance — without sacrificing functionality — to give its customers the instantaneous shopping experiences they’ve come to expect.
Target has recently shifted the focus of its app development efforts to be more job-focused, said Glenny. For example, the app is seeking to make it easier for users to build shopping lists; make purchases; and get inspired.
“Rather than thinking of technology as a fixed entity, we want to give customers tech to improve their [shopping] experiences and lives,” Glenny said.
As such, Target recently announced that it was rolling its popular saving app Cartwheel into the retailer’s flagship commerce app. While initially met with some pushback from Cartwheel users, Target is willing to deal with some growing pains in order to build better long-term relationships with its customers by making it easier to shop with the retailer from a single app.
Customers’ In-Store Assistant
Speed is a component of the app user’s experience, but it’s not the only one. Target is working to make its app indispensible to its customers’ lives, whether they’re using it on the go or in one of its many brick-and-mortar stores.
With the vast majority of Target’s customers choosing to shop in its stores, the company’s app is helping to make that process easier. For example, the app features store maps on the product page — customized to the floor plan of the specific store the user is in — to help make it easier for users to find the products they’re looking for. In addition to store maps, the app offers in-store users contextual search for both items and offers, including a store availability filter to see which products are in stock; and Bluetooth and beacon technology integration to help direct shoppers around Target’s expansive stores.
“In-store location leads to gratification,” noted Glenny.
Furthermore, Target is internally testing a single scan at checkout for its credit card, REDcard, and Cartwheel app, as well as a drive-up service that will allow customers to pick up their online purchases without leaving their cars.
Source of Inspiration
Target is working to make its app a place where shoppers can find inspiration for purchases — but not at the expense of the ease of the shopping experience. The retailer is doing this through new brand and product launches, editorial content, and visualization technology, specifically augmented reality (AR).
“The goal is to bring a few moments of joy into what can be stressful shopping experiences,” Glenny said. “How do you make something so easy that it's inspirational?”
Glenny cited swimwear, bikinis specifically, as a product category ripe for inspiration. Target offers its app users the ability to mix and match bikini tops and bottoms, dependent of factors such as size, color, and style. The functionality has resulted in an increase units bought per order as well as average order value, reported Glenny.
In addition, Target has launched AR view in room capability within its furniture category, enabling users to see how a piece of furniture would look in their chosen room before purchasing.
The goal of all of these in-app technologies? To make the shopping experience easier and more enjoyable for Target’s customers.
“The framework we're thinking with the app is how do we make it so that they spend less time interacting with the app, and giving them more time to spend living their lives,” Glenny said.
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