Target Black Friday Ad 2018

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 tech-savvy 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-in-store 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.

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