Target testing in-store initiatives, making changes fast

Target (NYSE:TGT) is trying to put the last few years behind it fast, moving ahead with executive, strategic and now in-store changes at a rapid clip as new management tries to regain the cache and profitability of the chain's past.

The retailer is testing in-store initiatives in Minneapolis-area stores, rolling out successful programs, and killing the ones that aren't, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Examples of some early successes include merchandising strategies borrowed from other retail channels. Mannequins, traditionally considered to be more for department stores than discount locations, began appearing in apparel in advance of the holiday season. New back-lit shelves in beauty better highlight products and give the department the higher-end look of a specialty retailer, and mobile electronics have moved from behind counters to the top, so shoppers can touch and experience the items before buying.  

Now, the retailer is testing new layouts in the home department offering an experience closer to that of a furniture or department store with lifestyle vignettes.

And those $1 bins near the entrance of the store may soon be history as management re-imagines that area as well, according to reports. At Target's Quarry and Eden Prairie, Minnesota stores, a new front-of-the-store display features a curated assortment of items picked from a variety of departments. It's a work in progress, though. Shoppers were confused by the departmental walls and the concept is being reconfigured.

Shoppers will soon see child shopping carts and iPads are replacing bar code scanners throughout the store for price checks. The selection of merchandise targeted to Latino shoppers is being expanded in some Texas stores, an initiative the retailer is watching closely.  

Not everything Target has tested has worked. According to the Star Tribune, attempts to incorporate digital price tags were unsuccessful and won't be rolled out to stores.

Target recently laid off roughly 550 employees as it closed down Canadian operations and shifted Target Canada President Mark Schindele to a U.S.-based position as senior VP of retail properties.

The failed international expansion into Canada, the data breach of 2013 and a myriad of merchandising mishaps during former CEO Gregg Steinhafel's tenure hit the retailer hard. But new initiatives by new management, and the willingness to test new programs, prove the retailer is determined to get back on track, fast.  

For more:
-See this Minneapolis Star Tribune article
-See this Retailing Today story

Related stories:
Target fires head of Canadian operations 
Target names former Tesco exec as new CIO
Target expands TargetExpress
First TargetExpress opens in Minnesota
Target to open 9 small-format stores

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