As smartphones proliferate, integration with mobile devices will be a key part of the offline retail experience. While many businesses offer a simple store locator, Target’s iPhone and Android apps and mobile Web site tie much deeper into their stores.
Among the key features:
- Weekly deals. Browse through the current week’s specials by category.
- Product availability. Scan a bar code or enter a product and it will tell you whether the item is available online or in stores. If it’s in store, availability is displayed along with the aisle that it’s located in. No more wandering through the store trying to find something. (In all of the times I’ve tried it, it hasn’t been wrong.)
- Payment.* If you have Target gift cards, you can enter the information and store it on your phone. When you’re ready to pay, pull up the bar code on the screen and show it to the cashier.
- Gift registry.* Look up a gift registry and find item locations.
- Store locator.
*Not available on the Android app.
Target has long been among the most innovative retailers. Four years ago, it offered an MP3 player gift card at Christmas. It has also offered a standalone gift find finder app that suggested Christmas gifts.
In the future, I’d expect to see integration with previous in-store purchases and tighter integration between the mobile apps and the Target Web site.