The gift concierge service that uses artificial intelligence is part of 1-800-Flowers’ technology and service strategy.
The chain follows the lead of such retailers as Staples and Wal-Mart.
Target Corp. plans to offer holiday shoppers the chance to make purchases on the web and then pick up items inside the chain’s nearly 1,800 U.S. stores. The program kicks off for “select items” in the Minneapolis area this fall, with Target planning to expand the program “chainwide” in time for the holidays, a spokesman says.
Target, No. 18 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, gave no more immediate details about the program. The chain follows the lead of such retailers as Staples Inc. (No. 2), Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (No. 4) and Gap Inc. (No. 19) in offering the service to web customers.
Target this year has taken other steps designed to make the chain more attractive for online shoppers. In spring, for instance, Target announced the launch of the Target Technology Innovation Center. The San Francisco-based operation houses workers who will work on technology and data products for mobile commerce and e-commerce initiatives. Target followed the lead of such chains as Wal-Mart and Staples in opening a center at least partly devoted to web shopping.
Around the same time, Target said it was testing Cartwheel, a discount service accessible via Facebook, in an attempt to drive shoppers into its stores.
According to the Top 500 Guide, Target.com, launched in 1999, attracts some 26.9 million monthly unique visitors.
While the holiday shopping season is fast approaching, “we have to assume they’ve been working on the technology for a while, the technology is in place, and now it’s just a matter of rolling it out,” says Paula Rosenblum, managing partner of research and advisory firm Retail Systems Research LLC.
Still, the chain faces challenges in trying to roll out the service now, she says. That includes getting its workforce up to speed. Like other retailers, Target will hire seasonal help for the holidays, and that means “training everyone on multiple new things,” she says.