The retailer on Wednesday said it will open a 21,000-square-foot unit on 29th Street and Second Avenue in Manhattan’s Kips Bay neighborhood. Target is on its way to operating eight of the smaller stores in Manhattan, including existing units in TriBeCa and Herald Square, locations in the East Village and Lower East Side, bowing this summer, and Hell’s Kitchen, the Upper East Side and Kips Bay in 2019.
Target isn’t discriminating against the outer boroughs. Flexible-format units will bow in 2019 in Jackson Heights and Astoria, Queens; Midwood, Brooklyn, and Staten Island. Some of the biggest examples of the concept with 37,000 to 47,000 square feet of space, will be located in the boroughs, where the retailer planted its flag in areas such as Forest Hills, Queens and Bensonhurst in Brooklyn during an earlier round of development.
Target is on track to operate 130 small-format stores by the end of 2019 that offer elevated shopping experiences and assortments tailored to the needs and preferences of the community. Flexible-format units have become one of Target’s main growth vehicles, eclipsing the expansion of full-line stores.
New initiatives designed to enhance the in-store and digital beauty shopping experiences were also revealed on Wednesday, and Target said it has lowered the delivery fee for next-day household essential delivery service Restock, which recently rolled out nationally.
Now being tested at 10 stores, with a rollout to more units slated for later this year, Target Beauty Studio lets customers virtually try on makeup using augmented reality via digital screens in the select beauty departments and online, desktop and mobile. Target’s AR solution uses real-time facial mapping technology. Customers can upload a photo of themselves or choose a model with similar skin tone and features as a canvas on which to play and experiment with makeup and try products — without the mess.
With beauty concierges helping consumers at beauty departments at Target stores, the retailer wanted to offer a similar benefit over to the Internet. Wednesday it revealed it will launch Beauty Chat text-to-get beauty advice services and target.com beauty chat. Shoppers browsing target.com cosmetics or skin-care pages will see a chat icon pop up when the service is available. Clicking on the icon and typing a question prompts a beauty concierge to provide an answer in real-time. The “soon-to-launch” text-to-get beauty advice service, which is enabled by texting “BeautyChat” to “Target,” will be another way to get advice.
Beauty concierges and other dedicated associates assigned to a department — electronics is another — receive specialized training and are required to have more than a working knowledge of the products they’re selling. As the U.S. economy improves, retailers such as Target will be increasingly challenged in hiring associates. “Over the past year and a half, we’ve invested hundreds of thousands of paid training hours to develop our team members’ product knowledge and service skills and provide continuous learning programs,” said Stephanie Lundquist, chief human resources officer. Kips Bay will be fully staffed with 75 employees when it opens. Farther downtown, the East Village store is bowing on July 21, and Target on May 21 to 23 will hold a job fair at Stuyvesant Town to find candidates.
The retailer moved to an $11 minimum hourly wage in October and pledged to increase hourly pay to $15 by the end of 2020. Lundquist said Target is “now taking the next step by moving to a $12 minimum hourly wage, starting with existing team members. [For some] team members, the $12 per hour will be their second significant wage increase in a six-month time frame. For all team members, a $12 minimum wage will be higher than the state-level minimum wage offered in all 50 states.”
News about Target Restock, the next-day delivery service for household essentials that recently rolled out nationally, was a message to competitors Amazon and Walmart that the retailer isn’t giving up. Target delivery costs for Restock were reduced from $4.99 to $2.99, and it’s now free for Redcard purchases, the retailer’s loyalty program. More than 75 percent of U.S. households can now order household products from Target Restock online as late as 7 p.m. to receive their boxes the next day.
Restock is the first e-commerce fulfillment service to expand nationwide. The retailer’s Drive-Up curbside pickup service and Shipt for same-day delivery are poised to rollout soon. Target last year paid $550 million to acquire Shipt.