New Target Stores Focus on Customer Needs, Improve Experience

Blog Post
November 17, 2017

I need to tell you about how excited I am—as a marketer and a customer—that Target just unveiled its first of many redesigned stores.

(I also have to give Target props for partnering with two of my other favorite brands: Casper, the mattress company, and Magnolia, owned by Chip and Joanna Gaines. But that’s a story for another day.) 

It’s immediately apparent that Target is focused on exactly the right things with its “next-generation” stores: customers and their needs. 

In particular, Target appears to be addressing the needs of a very specific, underserved customer segment that we discovered in our own research with Strategynbudget conscious, time-constrained, younger families. This segment represents as much as 38% of the total market for retail, and brick and mortar stores like Target have a unique opportunity to address some of this segment’s needs in their shopping experience.

And as a member of this segment myself, I cannot wait to check out one of these new stores. I expect to be wowed by the following improvements to my customer experience. 

Quick, easy trips

The most obvious way Target’s focus on the needs of this underserved segment comes to life is with two separate entrances: “one for time-starved shoppers who only need to pick up a few items, and the other for people who want to leisurely browse the store.”

The things you’re most likely to need as a busy, working mom, for example (grab-and-go food, wine!), are all located in proximity to each other, close to the entrance, with convenient self-checkout lines. This makes that stop after work to grab something relatively healthy for dinner as painless as possible.

Another way the new Target stores are catering to the needs of this customer segment is with convenient parking spots, close to the entrance, where Target employees will deliver online orders directly to your vehicle (think Applebee’s Carside To Go). Again, score for the young, time-constrained family—you don’t even have to get your kids in and out of their car seats or wake the sleeping baby.

Target parking for more convenient customer experience

Target's version of the drive thru. Credit: Target

Browsing that makes more sense

For those that want to “leisurely browse the store” (while drinking a Starbuck’s coffee and spending about $300 more than they intended to), the displays have also been redesigned around customer needs. 

It’s easy to see Target using the Jobs-to-be-Done approach here. The company notes that they’re creating “Elevated, cross-merchandise product presentations will amplify Target’s exclusive style assortment across apparel and accessories, home, jewelry and beauty, encouraging guests to browse.” What that translates to is products that make sense to be together will be together—instead of in different departments. If I want to find inspiration for a new fashion look…Presto! I can find clothing, accessories, jewelry, cosmetics, etc. displayed in one spot. If I want to give my living room a facelift, I can see furniture displayed with textiles (think throw pillows and curtains) and accessories (lamps and coffee table trays) all arranged close by.


Apparel, accessories, jewelry and beauty products displayed together. Credit: Target

This approach of arranging merchandise according to customer job instead of by category is both more convenient for the customer (it helps them more easily complete their jobs), and it’s also beneficial for Target (it does, in fact, encourage more browsing in areas the customer is already considering a purchase).

Sales people that focus on helping

One of the things we suggested in our research on how brick and mortar stores can better serve customers was providing sales people that actually help customers rather than just push products. Target is working on that, too. The company says store team members in all stores will be equipped with new technology that will allow them to search inventory, take payment from a mobile-point-of-sale system and arrange delivery—all from the sales floor.

If you’re having trouble finding something, your friendly Target associate can help you figure out if it’s in stock, or locate it in another store and have it delivered to your home. You don’t even need to go through the checkout line.

Bonus experience!

Another of our suggestions to better serve this underserved segment was to provide accommodations for children. As a final bonus for the young, busy family, many Target locations will also offer private nursing rooms. Talk about solving a customer need. Moms of young children thank you, Target.

Private room for nursing mothers. Credit: Target

Target plans to roll out this new store experience to 1,000 stores by 2020…but I certainly hope I don’t have to wait that long to grab my cart and coffee and go exploring.