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Target Now Testing Digital Health & Smaller-Format Stores

Target has begun merchandising connected healthcare devices within dedicated sections of select pharmacy departments.

The pilot program is rolling out across the country to 550 of Target’s nearly 1,800 stores and is expected to be in place by May.

The Connected Care sections are approximately 6 feet wide and hold about 14 different medical-grade products, including blood pressure monitors and pain management tools.

All can connect to smartphones to make it easy for customers “to keep track of important wellness information and data,” a Target spokeswoman told TWICE in an email.

The sections will be anchored by lead vendor Qardio, which will be represented by its QardioArm blood pressure monitor and QardioBase wireless smart scale, among other devices. The company joined Target’s healthcare roster last October.

The No. 2 discount chain had previously identified wellness as one of four core “signature” categories that also include style, baby and kids. The company has also been busy trialing connected display concepts and home automation sections in select stores and test shops.

“We’re constantly looking for opportunities to evolve our assortment and shopping experience to meet the changing needs of our guests,” the Target spokeswoman said. “We know our guests are increasingly interested in these types of products, and will evaluate future growth plans based on their feedback and sales results.”

In other news for the No. 2 discount chain, Target is focusing on a smaller-footprint store format that can squeeze into strip malls and city streets where its gargantuan flagship boxes can’t. The initiative is being carried out as part of an effort to increase market penetration (and comply with local zoning regs).

The retailer operates several so-called flexible urban formats, including TargetExpress, its newest and, at about 20,000 square feet its smallest; and CityTarget, which can range from 80,000 to 160,000 square feet.

By comparison, the big-box flagships range from an average of about 116,000 square feet for the general merchandise stores to 177,000 square feet for SuperTargets.

Over the next two years all but two of the company’s 21 planned store openings will be less than 50,000 square feet in size. Among the more interesting locations coming this fall:

• Cupertino, Calif.: 21,000 square feet
• Tribeca, New York: 45,000 square feet (two levels)
• Hyde Park, Chicago: 20,000 square feet
• State College, Pa.: 28,000 square feet

The stores will feature localized assortments, such as tech accessories in Cupertino, Apple’s headquarters town, and “dorm essentials” at the Penn State store, to be located just off campus.

The buildout comes after Walmart pulled the plug on its own small-format Express shops, which were similarly conceived to backfill markets and penetrate urban areas.