If you take advantage of all of Target’s various savings programs, you’re probably pretty familiar with the juggling act you have to do at checkout – handing over your coupons, opening up a bar code on your phone to have your mobile coupons scanned, opening up another bar code to have your Cartwheel discounts applied, opening yet another bar code if you’re lucky enough to be in Target’s loyalty program test market, then swiping your REDcard for your 5% discount.
Wouldn’t it be nice to have all of that combined into one, so you don’t have to fumble through your wallet and open several applications on your phone?
Target thinks so, too. So it’s working on doing just that – combining Cartwheel, its REDperks loyalty program, mobile payment and digital coupons, all into a single bar code on your phone.
Executives discussed their plans during an investor event Wednesday. Target has been pleased with its REDperks test, CEO Brian Cornell said, and it’s plenty pleased with Cartwheel, which, three years after its launch, now has more than 22 million users. But “Cartwheel is just one element of what today amounts to a piecemeal loyalty strategy that includes our REDcard, and REDperks,” Cornell said. “We believe we can simplify the whole experience.”
“What you’ll see us do as we move into this year, is to simplify and integrate those programs,” added Chief Marketing Officer Jeff Jones. That integration will involve combining “rewards points, the power of 5% savings every day, personalized discounts with Cartwheel, in a simple, single sign-on, one-barcode checkout kind of program, all on the mobile device.”
Add to that, the new digital manufacturer’s coupons that Target just added to Cartwheel this week. As first reported on Coupons in the News last August, Target entered a new partnership with Coupons.com last year, to make its digital offers available to shoppers this year. In the meantime, Target still has mobile store coupons, it’s testing beacon-delivered coupons, and it’s reportedly working on a mobile wallet payment system. Combined, it will all make for a much more streamlined checkout. Instead of digging through your wallet and opening multiple apps and bar codes on your phone, you’ll be able to scan your coupons, apply your Cartwheel offers, earn loyalty points, get your 5% REDcard discount and even pay for your purchases, all by scanning a single bar code in a single Target app.
Target executives didn’t say so explicitly, but such a move presumes a nationwide expansion of the REDperks program, which has been available only in the Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina market for the past year. Participants earn 10 points for every dollar they spend at Target. Once they reach 5,000 points, they earn a digital coupon good for an additional 5% off an entire shopping day. “We will also test additional bonus point offers and other surprise perks that guests can earn along the way,” a Target spokesman told Coupons in the News last year.
At the time, the spokesman wouldn’t say whether Target might merge all of its savings platforms into a single app. But a year later, his bosses have now done just that.
Plans for the integrated savings and payment platform comes as Target itself is in the midst of a multi-year transformation. With a new emphasis on “style, baby, kids and wellness,” it’s already in the process of switching over its in-store pharmacies to CVS, and revamping its grocery department to include more fresh and prepared foods. Remodeled stores are currently being tested in California, with plans to roll out the changes nationwide if the tests are successful.
Cornell also discussed plans yesterday to help solve out-of-stock problems, by giving employees fewer items to stock. Target is working on deciding “how many different packs of water bottles and scents of deodorants” it plans to offer going forward. “It’s going to be very surgical, category by category,” Cornell said, of Target’s plans to cull what it considers extraneous products. It may mean fewer choices for shoppers in the long run, but with fewer items for suppliers, warehouse workers and Target employees to keep track of, you’ll be less likely to encounter empty shelves the day after a new sale starts.
All of the changes are designed with the shopper in mind, Cornell said, and to “make sure that they’re not just loyal to us, but they recognize that we’re loyal to them.” If you like a large selection, then fewer choices may be a little tough to get used to. But if Target’s transformation means more savings, with fewer bar codes to keep track of, you might just find that it’s worth it.
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