Target on Tuesday announced the expansion of its Drive Up service throughout the South and Southeast. The curbside pickup is now available in 270 stores at select Target stores in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma and South Carolina and Texas, the company said in a blog post.
Customers can place an order through the Target app by choosing Drive Up fulfillment. They will receive a notification that their order is ready (usually within one to two hours, according to the blog post), and will have the order loaded into their cars "within two minutes" of arriving.
The retailer is working to expand the program further, to nearly 1,000 stores nationwide after "overwhelmingly positive guest reviews from the Minneapolis-area pilot launched last fall," according to the statement.
Like much larger rival Walmart, Target is leveraging its existing brick-and-mortar footprint to expand a convenience play that isn't easily matched by Amazon in most areas of the country. In 2016, Target abandoned a two-year-old curbside pickup effort through a third party startup, but last year announced a new curbside pilot developed in house.
Having so many stores is an advantage at a time when click-and-collect services are increasingly appealing to many U.S. consumers along with swift delivery. According to a new report from Coresight Research found that 51% of online shoppers mostly use store pickup, while 45% mainly depend on home delivery.
"As much as last-mile delivery is viewed as a top priority for retailers, curbside and click and collect are just as critical in rounding out fulfillment options crucial to success," Sylvain Perrier, president and CEO of digital solutions firm Mercatus, wrote in an email to Retail Dive. "Grocery retailers must catch up to meet consumers' demands by delivering greater convenience, speed and simplicity for shoppers all around."
Target also said that it’s continuing the rapid national roll-out of same-day shopping and delivery services through Shipt, which it acquired at the end of last year for $550 million. The retailer earlier this week announced that it is also expanding a new service at select urban stores where in-store customers can choose to have their purchases delivered to their homes within two hours. Next month, Target will also begin an expansion of next-day delivery consumer goods replenishment program, Target Restock, to more than two dozen markets to reach three-fourths of the U.S. population by the end of the year.
For years — even as Amazon continually evolved its own convenience play, first with free two-day delivery for Prime members, then same-day delivery in some cities with Prime Now — many retailers had been loathe to encourage delivery and pickup services on the theory that they undermine impulse purchases. But Target, Walmart and others, including many grocery chains, have come to realize the imperative of meeting shoppers' expectations for convenience. In fact, expect more to develop services like Drive Up in the next year or so, according to Steve Bielawski, senior vice president of sales and marketing at order management firm OrderDynamics.
"This a solid move to make it even more convenient for its big customer base: parents, often with children in tow. Although it misses the impulse buy or upsell opportunity of in-store shopping, Target is doing the right thing for the customer," he told Retail Dive in an email. "As we all know, customer focus in retail means offering services that will keep them coming back. This is definitely a breakout year in the U.S. for omnichannel services. We expect to see quite a bit more innovation, like Drive Up, from more retailers throughout the year and well into 2019."