What Can You Learn from Target?

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| Peter Radizeski of RAD-INFO, Inc. talking telecom, Cloud, VoIP, CLEC, and The Channel.

What Can You Learn from Target?

I was reading a couple of articles about Target. The retailer has not been doing well lately, including closing all Canada stores after its expansion there last year!

"David Schick of Stifel, says [Target] needs to go back to "differentiated discount", which means offering a selection of desirable items--a trendy handbag, say, or a novelty watch--which no rival is selling." Target had a higher ARPU than Walmart due to the differentiator. It was hip, designer, nice place to shop. I think when they added food, they decided to just chase Walmart, which is a loser proposition.

"The food department needs a face-lift too, says David Strasser of Janney Montgomery Scott, a financial-services firm. He thinks Target should try to be more like Trader Joe's, a thriving own-label supermarket chain that is part of Aldi, a German discount-grocery giant." This is bad advice. Being Like So-and-So isn't adding value; it's red ocean, not blue ocean. [Red Ocean means hyper-competition and commodities.] When you have 2000 competitors, you want to know what your Value Proposition, your uniqueness, your super power is. Otherwise it is a price war.


Target also needs to catch up with its more successful peers in becoming an "omni-channel" retailer, offering customers a seamless choice of how to shop: in stores, on internet browsers or on smartphone apps," writes the Business Insider. The take-away here is: know your customers. Know how they want to shop and buy. Make the sales process as frictionless as possible.

You have probably heard similar advice. "You need to be on Facebook." Or "You need to be on twitter." You only need to be on the platforms that your customers and target prospects use. of course, that means that you have to ask them where they are online.

Target used to be on Amazon's platform, but left when they built their own site. That probably had problems 9and high costs). After the credit card hack, they might want to think about another partnership with Amazon. Walmart must have huge cart abandonment issues because that site is clunky - like Sears. It needs to be smooth, especially for the mobile experience. A good rule of thumb here is to default to mobile as your testing viewing experience - on an older Android to see what it looks like.

There are a number of ways that Target could maximize mobility, digital pay, digital coupons, managed services, WLAN solutions and their brick-and-mortar stores for maximum return. Following Walmart is not one of those ways. [I wouldn't follow JCP, Radio Shack, Sears/K-mart, B&N or Best Buy either. Retailers haven't looked outside of the mall experience yet. That is a post for another day.]

I wouldn't say you have to be Disney-esque in customer service, but when I was in Target this past weekend, I asked a clerk where an item was. Her response, "I don't know. I work upfront." Yeah.

Although you may not be in consumer services or sell online, consider these lessons within your own sales process. And heed this: you ARE selling online, whether you are taking part in that sector or not.

Target forgot what it's brand was.

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