Can Target Make A Comeback?

December 22, 2014
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Once the go-to big box retailer for “cheap chic” suburbanites across the U.S., Target’s much-publicized security breach last December resulted in personal information being stolen from nearly 110 million customers, a 46 percent quarter profit loss and a severely damaged brand image. As the anniversary of the data breach comes about, Target is pulling out all the stops to win back customers during the high-stakes holiday season. Is the retailer poised to make a comeback? Here’s how Target is decking the halls this year:

3D printing for holiday gifts

Target recently revealed a unique partnership with online 3D printing service and marketplace Shapeways. Customers become the designers: they start by logging onto the Shapeways website and browse through an assortment of 120-plus rings, charms and ornaments. Customers can choose from a range of materials including steel and bronze and can include special messages or monograms on many of the charm options. 3-D printers sculpt the customized creations layer by layer and are then sent to the customers’ doorstep of choice. This authentic and modern offering attempts to set Target apart from other discount retailers like Walmart.

E-commerce initiatives and data security

In an effort to streamline online shopping processes, Target announced it will offer free shipping on all purchases. “No one likes being surprised with shipping charges when they go to check out, so a standing free shipping offer for the holidays just makes sense,” said new CEO Brian Cornell. The retailer also updated their POS terminals and is making a move toward complying with EMV cards, which allows chip-based payments rather than by swiping a magnetic stripe. Bolstering their data security efforts will help to gain customers’ trust back in the future.

Exclusive collections

TOMS for Target, a partnership with the charitable shoe company famous for their initiative of giving a pair of shoes to someone in need for every pair purchased, features over 50 items, all under $50, according to their company blog, A Bullseye View. In addition to the massively popular classic TOMS slip-ons, the licensed collection consists of home goods, accessories and apparel. Every purchase culminates in a blanket donation through the American or Canadian Red Cross, a week of meals through Feeding America or Food Banks Canada or a pair of shoes to a child in need. The altruistic cooperative is an extremely smart move for the retailer in healing its tarnished image.

Pop up shop

Recently named to Time Out’s top 15 New York shops list, STORY is a retail concept space that “completely reinvents itself” every four to eight weeks “to bring to light a new theme, trend or issue”, according to their website. The current theme? Home for the Holidays, starring curated items hand-picked from Target HQ. The 2,000 square foot store was transformed to look like a home that is equal parts ski house and mountain retreat. Each room of the space is categorized by present receivers, making for a living gift guide of sorts. This uncommon shopping experience puts Target in a category completely unique to other New York-located competitors.

The holiday season is certainly the most competitive time of the year for retailers as each vies for a share of consumers’ wallets. After having last holiday season defined by the disastrous data breach, Target is making a concerted effort to bring customers one-of-a-kind gifts and seamless online and instore shopping experiences. If the company will return to its previous stature remains to be seen, but the journey back is assuredly jolly.

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