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What Target Is Doing To Take Your Business

Like the old Avis ad campaign, big-box discounter Target is No. 2 but trying harder.

That effort will take a new form in a few weeks in Los Angeles, where 25 test stores will become a crucible for the company’s 50 most innovative new concepts.

According to Target the enhancements will fall into two major categories: presentation and service. The former will include a more modern sales floor with updated fixtures, fully-outfitted vignettes and helpful signs, and a front-of-the store remodel to showcase new products and trends.

On the service side, shoppers will find highly-trained in-store consultants within the cosmetics and baby departments, and a “digital advisor” who can assist customers with Target’s mobile applications and in-store and curbside pickups.

The chain will also embed select SKUs with radio-frequency identification [RFID] chips to help staffers track down misplaced products.

Target said the test, dubbed LA25, will incorporate both new concepts and existing pilots. “The chance to test them all in a single market environment will help us see which elements work best together,” the retailer noted in a corporate blog, and the best-performing combinations will be applied to future store prototypes and design plans.

The initiative, along with a recent connected-home concept store in San Francisco; a start-up recruitment drive; and even a possible test of in-store robots, reflects CEO Brian Cornell’s focus on digitally-integrated, cross-channel shopping and other future-proofing projects to fend off e-commerce competition.

Speaking last week at the company’s Fall National Meeting, Cornell also acknowledged that digital initiatives have distracted him from some of the core retail skill sets that also require attention, like out-of-stock merchandise and frozen cash registers, AP reported.

“I owe each of you an apology,” he told the 13,000 sales associates in attendance. “I didn’t spend enough time in retail fundamentals.”

Meanwhile, construction for the first wave of LA25 tests and remodels will begin in a few weeks, to be followed by a second-wave launch in the spring, Target said.