Target adds more safety features ahead of the holidays

Mike Mozart/Flicker

AUTHOR Ben Unglesbee@Ben_Unglesbee PUBLISHED Oct. 22, 2020 retail dive

Dive Brief:

  • Target is adding a slew of new features to its stores and digital platforms aimed at making consumers feel safe.

  • Among them is the mobile payment option in the Target app, Wallet, which customers can now use for contactless self-checkout in stores, according to a press release. The retailer is also adding 1,000 MyCheckout devices to stores, allowing customers to check out with employee assistance anywhere in a store. 

  • Additionally, customers can visit the Target website to see if there is a line due to metered occupancy. Shoppers can reserve a spot in line digitally and will be notified from the company via text when they can enter. Other efforts include a doubling of parking spaces for Target's Drive Up service and a new checkout system for Drive Up that eliminates the need to scan barcodes.

Dive Insight: Target's latest set of safety features is an acknowledgment of what's on customers' minds going into the holiday shopping season as COVID-19 cases spike around the country and health officials warn of the trend headed into the fall.

Some of the most important protocols for slowing and preventing the spread of the new coronavirus have been in place at Target for months: mask requirements, occupancy limits, and extra sanitization of carts and the store, among others. Target is also planning to devote staffing to sanitization and handing out masks to customers who need them going into the holiday season. Those protocols, many of them pioneered by grocers and mass merchants, have already become commonplace in retail as the industry tries to balance business and consumer needs with safety in the face a pandemic that has killed more than 200,000.  More contactless options offer consumers an added measure of distance, while the line notification adds another a layer of convenience and control for customers. Its same-day options, which have exploded this year amid the pandemic, also offer customers a way to stay out of stores while getting to see merchandise before it gets to their door. Target has said it plans to double staffing for its Drive Up and Pick Up options for the holiday season. 

Target's attention to safety concerns is also good business. PwC recently reported that 65% of surveyed consumers said they were concerned about catching COVID-19. And 66% of surveyed consumers said they are more likely to visit stores with strict health precautions in place like those at Target, according to a study from the International Council of Shopping Centers. "As we've navigated the pandemic, that focus has evolved to ensure we're also creating the safest place for our guests to shop," Target CEO Brian Cornell said in a press release. "As we approach the holidays, guests can feel confident in choosing Target — a safe experience, incredible value, and a differentiated assortment that will help them celebrate the joy of the season." Target has also said it will close for Thanksgiving for the first time in years, and spread Black Friday deals throughout the season, both of which are aimed at reducing exposure for employees and customers during the busy holiday season

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