TARGET.COM REDESIGNS ITS WEB SITE

Byline: Valerie Seckler

NEW YORK — Aiming to maximize its holiday business, Target Corp. on Friday launched a redesigned version of its flagship Web site, at Target.com, that features fresh navigation and product selection tools and new visual elements.
The revamped e-tail destination offers nearly 15,000 items across the key categories carried by Target’s nearly 900 discount stores: apparel, gifts, toys, and home decor. That’s an eightfold increase over the previous assortment at the e-commerce site, which added apparel just this July.
The apparel offer has been expanded from basics to include trendy items and seasonal styles under Target-owned brands, and now includes classic pieces from Cherokee and Merona as well as trendier takes from Utility and Xhilaration, the store’s junior collections. A range of leather jackets and cashmere sweaters were added for the relaunch, for example.
The home page incorporates more images of the products available at target.com, and in larger depictions than the Web site’s earlier entry. And although the new home page doesn’t exactly break new ground in the realm of virtual aesthetics, a lot more eye-grabbing color has been splashed across that landing pad, which could lure more of its visitors to start shopping and purchasing at the e-commerce destination.
“The redesign of our Web site provides us with greater flexibility in how we present our merchandise online,” said Cathy David, general manager of Target.com. “Whether positioning Target’s off-line brands or showcasing items unique to Target.com, we can display items in a manner that communicates our brand and makes sense to our guests through surprise, juxtaposition, integration.”
For example, new home pages for each department now showcase the Web site’s hottest items and offer recommendations of complementary products. Those goods have been highlighted in an attempt to streamline the online shopping experience, making it one more closely mirroring the clean, crisp, clear-cut merchandise displays commonly found at the chain’s brick-and-mortar stores.
Not surprisingly, with the Web site’s makeover timed to coincide with holiday shopping, Target.com’s new gift search tool is prominently located atop the home page, alongside the gift registries and gift card buttons. Just below those tools, Target.com has placed links to various parts of the Web site — shop, company, community giving, guest services, My Target and shopping cart — as well as various merchandise categories. The latter include Halloween, holiday, baby, clothes, electronics, health & beauty, home, jewelry, sporting goods and toys.
Mid-screen is where the Target.com makeover most sets itself apart from its former version: the heart of the page is now occupied by four product images, plus an entry to the Club Wedd wedding gift registry, and a product search engine. On Friday, those items in the Web site’s “front window” were: a metallic poo-chi, priced at $24.99; an urban scooter, for $59.99; a Michael Graves chess and checker set, also $59.99; and an Olympus Digital camera, $299.99.
Although its former Web site was less than visually compelling, the customer traffic at Target.com has nonetheless placed it among the top 10 e-commerce destinations mounted by apparel merchants this year, according to Web ratings agency Media Metrix. In September, for instance, Target.com had 1.6 million unique visitors, compared with Kmart-controlled BlueLight.com, which had 2.1 million users, and Walmart.com, which pulled 1.4 million. Walmart.com, as noted, went dark on Oct. 1 in an effort to relaunch an improved version by Nov. 1 of the Web site, which has been plagued with problems.
“With the redesign and the new capabilities it offers to our online guests,” David concluded, “Target.com is poised to take the online holiday season head on.”

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