2018 Will Be Very Tech-En­hanced Hol­i­day

WWD Digital Daily - - News - BY SHARON EDELSON

Re­tail­ers of all stripes are try­ing to make hol­i­day shop­ping less daunt­ing.

Now, it’s all about the ex­pe­ri­ence.

If price was the weapon of choice of re­tail­ers in past hol­i­day sea­sons, that changed last year as brick-and-mor­tar re­tail­ers duked it out over de­liv­ery. It seems phys­i­cal re­tail­ers need to have three core com­pe­ten­cies en­ter­ing the crit­i­cal sea­son. In ad­di­tion to hav­ing sharp prices and fast-and-free de­liv­ery, re­tail­ers are stress­ing con­ve­nience and ex­pe­ri­ence in their stores. The likes of Wal-Mart, Tar­get and Kohl’s are get­ting in­creas­ingly tech­savvy to make the shop­ping ex­pe­ri­ence as seam­less as pos­si­ble.

Kohl’s wants to make hol­i­day shop­ping more re­ward­ing for cus­tomers.

The re­tailer to­day launched a pre-Black Fri­day event with the of­fer of $15 in Kohl’s Cash for ev­ery $50 spent.

Kohl’s is pi­lot­ing an el­e­vated loyalty pro­gram for top shop­pers that com­bines the ex­ist­ing Kohl’s Cash and Yes2You, a points sys­tem, into Kohl’s Re­wards with Kohl’s Cash used ex­clu­sively for pay­outs.

The Menom­i­nee Falls, Wisc.-based re­tailer is test­ing Kohl’s Ser­vice Cen­ter, a new con­cept that brings all ser­vice el­e­ments to the front of the store, in­clud­ing self-check­out, buy-on­line-pick-up-in­store and pick-up lock­ers, along with a big­ger im­pulse zone filled with top sellers to tempt con­sumers who only visit the store to pick up on­line or­ders.

Kohl’s is launch­ing a smart cart op­tion for the hol­i­days, as well, with an in­cen­tive of $5 Kohl’s Cash in ex­change for pick­ing up an on­line or­der in a store.

“The in­cen­tives we put in place are work­ing. We have a solid plan and on top of that an op­por­tu­nity for tail­winds,” Michelle Gass, chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer of Kohl’s, told WWD.

“Bon-Ton is longer around,” Gass added. “That cus­tomer — there’s a lot of over­lap with the Kohl’s cus­tomer. The brand is gone. Bon-Ton is a sig­nif­i­cant op­por­tu­nity and we’re in­vest­ing in those mar­kets. There’s still an op­por­tu­nity with Sears’ clo­sures as well for cer­tain prod­uct cat­e­gories.”

Tar­get Corp. to­day also in­tro­duced mo­bile tech­nol­ogy that al­lows con­sumers to skip the line and check out with a Tar­get team mem­ber from any­where in the store for greater ease dur­ing the fre­netic hol­i­day sea­son.

Us­ing spe­cially equipped hand­held de­vices, team mem­bers scan items in a con­sumer’s bas­ket or shop­ping cart and ac­cept pay­ment by credit card on the spot. Dur­ing peak shop­ping events such as Black Fri­day, team mem­bers will be lo­cated in the busiest parts of the store, such as elec­tron­ics.

The check­out tech­nol­ogy was built by Tar­get’s team, which last year in­tro­duced tech­nol­ogy that al­lows con­sumers to place tar­get.com or­ders di­rectly from the sales floor and have the pur­chases shipped to their doorstep.

Tar­get un­veiled its Black Fri­day ad with its pre­view sale and its low­est prices of the year, shop­pable to­day. Stores will open at 5 p.m. on Thanks­giv­ing and op­er­ate through 1 a.m. on Nov. 23. Doors will open again at 7 a.m. on Nov. 23. Sav­ings will con­tinue through­out the hol­i­day sea­son with Week­end Deals, Nov. 10 to Dec. 15.

Cus­tomers who want to score Black Fri­day deals but pre­fer not to face the crowds at the stores can use Tar­get’s

Or­der Pickup ser­vice for se­lect items on Thanks­giv­ing and Black Fri­day. Drive Up, a free same-day ser­vice where guests place or­ders through the Tar­get app and items are brought to their cars, will be avail­able on Black Fri­day for the first time.

Re­tail­ers are throw­ing perks in the cus­tomer’s way to lure them into stores. Tar­get is of­fer­ing 20 per­cent off a fu­ture hol­i­day shop­ping trip in ex­change for spend­ing $50 on Black Fri­day deals in-store or on­line or via the wal­let fea­ture of the Tar­get app in stores on Nov. 23.

Tar­get will of­fer lo­cal­ized store maps in the re­tailer’s app. These maps clearly iden­tify where spe­cific Black Fri­day deals are lo­cated within each Tar­get store, al­low­ing guests to ef­fec­tively plan their shop­ping trip. Guests can ac­cess a map for their lo­cal Tar­get store be­gin­ning Nov. 18.

Mark Trit­ton, ex­ec­u­tive vice pres­i­dent and chief mer­chan­dis­ing of­fi­cer, Tar­get, stressed con­ve­nience, cit­ing “un­matched easy ways to shop, in­clud­ing new mo­bile tech­nol­ogy. Guests will save time and money, and ex­pe­ri­ence the joy of the sea­son.”

Wal­mart Corp. is also try­ing to elim­i­nate some pain points of shop­ping dur­ing the hol­i­days. The Ben­tonville, Ark.-based be­he­moth on Wed­nes­day said it’s giv­ing sales as­so­ciates new tools, in­clud­ing the abil­ity to check con­sumers out wher­ever they are in the store, al­low­ing them to avoid long check­out lines — the bane of the Christ­mas shop­pers’ ex­is­tence — and check­out with sales as­so­ciates.

“We’re launch­ing a new ser­vice, Check Out With Me — to by­pass check­out lines and check­out with sales as­so­ciates,” said Steve Brat­spies, chief mer­chan­dis­ing of­fi­cer.

Wal­mart has been ag­gres­sively over­haul­ing many as­pects of its busi­ness in or­der to com­pete with Amazon, in­clud­ing en­hance­ments to its app such as adding dig­i­tal maps that give the lo­ca­tion of prod­ucts down to the ex­act aisle. It also launched a fully re­designed wal­mart.com ear­lier this year.

“Hol­i­day shop­ping on wal­mart.com is a new ex­pe­ri­ence,” said Scott Hil­ton, chief rev­enue of­fi­cer. “There’s ev­ery­thing from con­tent to gift guides to a new deals hub to monthly blitzes from ED1 by Ellen De­generes.”

The re­tail gi­ant is also mak­ing more mar­ket­place items el­i­gi­ble for free ship­ping and des­ig­nated scores of third-party prod­ucts, on top of the mil­lions of Wal­mart items. It will be eas­ier for con­sumers to re­turn prod­ucts pur­chased from third-party sellers on wal­mart.com’s mar­ket­place when the com­pany in mid-Novem­ber ac­cepts re­turn of those items at its stores.

Tar­get’s 2018 Black Fri­day Ad.

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