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Aug 19 2011

StarTribune - For Target.com, online reboot is 'only the first step'

 

The company hopes the new website, which features social media and streamlined checkout, will drive more digital sales.

By Thomas Lee

Target Corp. said it will relaunch its website sometime next week, in time for the key holiday shopping season.

The overhaul, more than two years in the making, is a crucial piece of the Minneapolis-based retailer's strategy to drive more sales from digital platforms like mobile phones and tablets as it seeks to gain ground on top online retailer Amazon.com.

The redesigned website is "only the first step towards creating a more robust multichannel experience," Kathryn Tesija, Target's executive vice president for merchandising, told analysts in New York this week.

In her presentation, Tesija said the Target.com site would be "more visually appealing" and customized to each user's profile. The site will feature expert product reviews, user-generated video and photos and a streamlined checkout and account management features. Tesija also said the site will incorporate social media tools like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

SapientNitro, one of the world's largest integrated marketing and technology services firms, was Target's lead partner and primary systems integrator for the project. (SapientNitro also worked on the April relaunch of StarTribune.com.) It's unknown how much Target.com contributes to the company's overall sales because Target doesn't break out its online results. As Target lost customers to Wal-Mart and other deep-discounters during the recent recession, investing in its online site has become a necessary business strategy in what has become a $200 billion e-commerce industry.

Earlier this year, Target ended its relationship with Amazon, which had been filling orders, handling customer service and providing e-commerce technology for Target.com since 2001. In recent years, the Internet giant has become a tough competitor to traditional retailers like Target and Best Buy.

Taking the website in-house will offer Target more flexibility, the company has said.

www.startribune.com

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