“We pressure tested the hell out of our site and picked apart every part of the experience to ensure it worked flawlessly with our apps,” said Goldberger, who noted that despite the brand's preparations, it still experienced a site outage (and very public fiasco that followed) in the heat of a highly anticipated promotion with designer Lilly Pulitzer.
“Guests had stayed up all night to get their hands on the most coveted sundresses in the world, and nothing was working,” Goldberger recalled. “Guests using our app couldn’t get through to the bottom to make a sale. Any way you cut it, it was a big disappointment.”
Goldberger said the brand partially missed the target on #LillyForTarget because it didn’t rely on real-time data or properly anticipate the tidal wave of consumers who would flood its mobile apps and site. Using six-month-old data as a proxy for present behavior wasn’t sufficient, but in some respects Target has had bigger fish to fry – a 2013 customer data breach
But Target has bounced back and is exploring more ways to personalize app experiences to strengthen their value to customers.
“Understanding what guests aren’t doing in-store is really important,” said Alan Wizemann, VP of product for mobile and Target.com. “We’re finding out how to use the context from all of our applications and sites [to determine] what people are doing at home [when they’re not shopping].”
Target develops a range of hyperspecialized apps including its flagship store app, Cartwheel, which provides savings for in-store shoppers, and Target Registry, for special occasions like wedding and baby registries. Since the retailer has seen mobile conversions increase 50%, a big initiative beyond native apps is tailoring content experiences for mobile web with device specificities, Wizemann said.
Still, Goldberger claimed the retailer is not channel-obsessed, mobile or not, given consumer fragmentation’s impact on publishers and retailers.
“HBO stopped releasing morning-after viewing numbers because they change by the end of the week, [just like] millions of people are reading The New York Times without actually reading The New York Times,” he said. “The New York Times is a fast track to Facebook. Readers or shoppers won’t remember which channel they visited you on – the content and brand behind it matter far more than the vehicle.”