By Jeremy Greenberg, Founder & CEO of SellerCloud

Target has made some big strides as of late to solidify its place as a worldwide retailer to be reckoned with. Though Walmart and Amazon continue to dominate, Target has done well to leverage the blend of its physical and virtual marketplaces in an effort to become what CEO Brian Cornell claims to be “America’s easiest place to shop.”

Target’s commitment to consistent location renovations (currently on pace for 300+ stores a year over the past 3 years) and strategic store placements (an estimated 75% of Americans live within 10 miles of a Target location) has cemented the chain’s brick-and-mortar presence.

At the same time Target’s ecommerce offerings have been bolstered by both the rollout of Target Plus – its curated  third-party marketplace – and a continuously improving range of fulfillment options. Woven through it all is a steadfast aim to cultivate a positive consumer experience that surpasses that of all other competitors – both large and small.

As an e-commerce retailer, diversification is always a sound business strategy. If you are looking to spread your eggs into some new baskets, Target is making a strong case that your products have a chance to succeed in both their stores and their marketplace.

Target’s Widespread Physical Presence is a Fulfillment Dream

One of the ways Amazon and Walmart have risen to the top of online retail customer satisfaction is with their speedy fulfillment practices. Amazon Prime subscribers can get a package delivered to their door in two days or less (within hours in some cases). Walmart’s NextDay and TwoDay shipping services get products into customer’s hands quickly as well (provided the order reaches the $35 minimum threshold).

To compete, Target has built its own stable of fulfillment options designed to contend with the e-commerce giants:

  • Shipt is Target’s same-day delivery partner. The service relies on personal shoppers to physically fulfill your order from a local Target and bring the merchandise to you. If there are any issues, your Shipt shopper can reach out to you directly with any questions or substitution options.
  • In-store pickup isn’t a Target-exclusive offering. That said, Target has made it a priority to make their version excessively customer-friendly. Not only are most items ready for retrieval within an hour, but an increasing number of stores are offering curbside pickup options.
  • Delivery From Store is offered in select cities as a way to enjoy the convenience of Target shopping without the hassle of cross-city travel. Most products are available for a flat $7 delivery fee – far less than a round-trip Uber ride.
  • RedCard can be looked at as Target’s answer to Amazon Prime. Offered in credit and debit varieties, Target’s RedCard holders enjoy a host of online order fulfillment benefits including free two-day delivery on orders of $35 or more as well as a service that offers next-day delivery of a box-load of household products for $2.99 a box (take that, Prime Pantry). Add to that a 5% discount on most purchases and an additional 30-day return window and it’s hard to argue with the program’s allure and value.

The reason Target can offer the majority of these competitive services boils down to a single factor – the ubiquity of Target locations across the United States.

Target stores have evolved into more than just retail locations; they are truly the lifeblood of Target’s e-commerce infrastructure. Rather than stockpiling a massive warehousing network like Amazon, Target is expanding its brick-and-mortar stores to serve double-duty as their e-commerce inventory and fulfillment centers. This decision has spared Target a lot of the typical growing pains that come with an aggressive e-commerce expansion.

Whether the shoppers are toting shopping baskets or scrolling the Target app, the majority of transactions wind up involving the customers’ local Target stores in some way. For each purchase, it is highly likely that either the customer, the inventory, or some aspect of the fulfillment process will pass through a local Target location. Furthermore, should something go wrong with any Target transaction, the customer’s local store is equipped to serve as the solution provider.

Using Target locations as the lynchpin of both physical and e-commerce sales ensures that both sides of the business remain intertwined at the store level. Moreover, the way Target has woven e-commerce and brick-and-mortar into their long-term growth plans has made it easier for the entire Target brand to maintain a unified focus and appeal to both retail and online shoppers alike. 

All of this, in turn, makes it easier for Target to cultivate a unified strategy at the macro level. Target’s core philosophy remains to provide customers with both a selection of quality products and a level of overall convenience – regardless of whether the customers are online or in-store. The successful implementation of this strategy is largely due to the way Target has continued to keep the retail stores the center of it all.

The Allure of Becoming a B2B or B2C Partner with Target

Another crucial benefit of Target’s hybridization of e-commerce and retail is that rather than online merchandise simply sitting on warehouse shelves waiting to be ordered, much of Target’s merchandise is sitting on store shelves. This means it can just as easily be picked up and added to an actual shopping cart as it can a virtual one. 

This is a boon for sellers looking for strong marketplaces to delve into. Becoming a first-party (1P B2B) partner with Target can open the door to the company’s interwoven retail and e-commerce business model (and the wide range of customers that come with it). 

SellerCloud’s comprehensive ecommerce growth platform has long supported 1P B2B transactions with Target, but for those operating at the B2C level as third-party (3P) sellers, our addition of Target marketplace functionality provides another way to access the retail chain’s customer base. While you may not see the benefit of your products appearing in Target store aisles, you do get the benefit of being a part of a fast-growing, well-curated online marketplace. If successful, it may even lay the groundwork for transforming your third-party business into a first-party sales funnel.

For more on how SellerCloud can help you sell, ship, track, and manage your inventory, contact us directly for a free demo. See how our diverse retail chain integrations, including Target, can help you take your e-commerce business to the next level.