Shoppers are expected to turn to online shopping at unprecedented levels this holiday season, but not just to buy for their own family. Retailers are starting to use the technology to encourage shoppers to buy in store at a larger number of locations and get their purchases at lower prices.
“We’re putting together a lot of data to see how the shopper experiences are evolving and what the key drivers are,” said Michael Mankin, chief executive of Retail Systems Group, which operates the technology behind the loyalty program.
The program allows shoppers to sign up for specific stores at a time and purchase online at any one of them without going through the website. For instance, shoppers can sign up to go to a Target store to buy a T-shirt and buy a different, lower-priced shirt from the site at the same time.
Target and other retailers have been testing similar programs for several years, but the technology is now entering more sophisticated stages. On Dec. 8, the company introduced a new loyalty system called Target Advantage, which allows shoppers to earn points by going to Target stores and doing specific tasks, like buying things and collecting points when they shop.
Target plans to take advantage of that market opportunity, too, by offering customers different programs like Homecoming and Kids First, the companies said, they are also planning on offering a lot more online coupons on websites like https://www.raise.com/coupons/target. Target’s loyalty program began accepting applications last week for Kids First, a program for families in which kids earn points for participating in an assortment of activities and also get a discount on some items. Homecoming, which has been available in the U.S. since 2010, lets families earn points by going to Target and buying things like home dcor and gift cards.
Shoppers can find a full list of deals and offers on Target’s website, and they’ll be automatically collected by the loyalty programs when shoppers sign up for them. Each program is built around specific themes: Homecoming’s is about fashion, while Kids First offers things like kitchen toys, children’s games and educational materials. The goal is to get consumers to use the rewards programs on a regular basis, and the programs are designed to encourage that kind of behavior.
When consumers shop online at Target, they’re not just using an application to shop — they’re interacting with the actual Target website, creating a real-world shopper experience.
But what about when a store’s website isn’t part of a loyalty program? And what about a program that doesn’t include a physical location? These are the kinds of situations that prompted Target to add a Target Rewards Hub to its app earlier this year. Using a combination of GPS tracking, customer data, and social media data, the Target Rewards Hub identifies and tracks the locations of locations where consumers can redeem rewards points on the Target.com website. If Target’s rewards programs and the mobile app work together, customers will be able to earn points and rewards points will be earned and redeemed at locations where consumers like to shop.