Target Starts Accepting Phone Gift Cards, Courtesy Of Virtual Barcodes

Target said Monday (Feb. 8) it will start accepting gift cards—but only its own, for now—displayed from customers' mobile phones. The chain will redeem the cards via associates scanning the barcodes at checkout, a process that some retailers have avoided because of a high number of scanning errors.

Target issued a statement claiming that it "is the first major retailer with the ability to scan mobile barcodes in all of its stores. Guests may access their Target Mobile GiftCards to add value at store registers, and check GiftCard balances at any time via the mobile site. In addition, Target Mobile GiftCard functionality allows guests to save multiple GiftCards to their account and label each one for easy reference." This approach may prove to be a good move for Target, but it will almost certainly give a lot of cover to executives who want to try mobile gift card scanning. Unanswerable Question Of The Day: Is it better for the associate to hold the consumer's phone during the scan—risking liability if, for example, a high-priced iPhone is dropped and shattered—or for the consumer to hold the phone—making a consistent scan much more difficult?