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5 Reasons Target is a Top-Notch Retailer to Copy

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Tell me if this scenario sounds familiar to you. You go into Target for three mundane items that should only cost you maybe ten bucks: Silly things like shampoo, shaving cream, and a birthday card. However, an hour later you walk out a hundred dollars lighter and the proud owner of two new shirts, new bed sheets, that DVD of your favorite show that you forgot you never got for Christmas, and a new trash can for your kitchen. What is it about this store that turns us into crazed shoppers piling things into our carts without giving it a second thought?

I’m sure there are some psychological reasons regarding increased dopamine levels when we get that taste of “shopper’s high.” However, I’m in the mood to point fingers at someone else besides myself and I think Target is to blame. They seem to know their stuff about prying open wallets farther than we hoped because of their awesome business techniques. Let’s take a look-see at what they’re doing right.

Reasons Why Target is Awesome:

  1. They logically display their products to make finding the item you’re looking for quick and painless, which means no salespeople need to walk around. You want the latest CD from your favorite band? Head on over to Electronics and peruse the CD racks. Need laundry detergent? Head on over to the Grocery section and there are shelves filled from top to bottom with every brand imaginable (more on that point later). You’d have to actually use more effort to not find what you’re looking for than to use that effort to find it.
  2. They have competitive prices that, while maybe not the lowest in town, are certainly cheaper than other retail stores. They run weekly sales that are too good to pass up depending on what the product is. Plus, their dollar section provides entertainment no matter if you have five dollars or twenty dollars in your pocket. Target has something for every customer to look at and possibly purchase!
  3. Their locations are convenient because they stick to major roads when they build. Instead of building out in the middle of a cornfield that is five or six roads off a major intersection, Target sticks to where customers can easily find them. All you have to do is look for that giant red bull’s eye and you’ve found them.
  4. The flow inside Target stores makes it difficult to just run in and run out, which is great for them but bad for our wallets. Ladies, how many times have you walked past the Women’s department in order to get to the shoe section without something catching your eye? Whether it’s a sale on sweaters or a cute shirt, the way you walk through their stores to get somewhere makes you want to stop and browse.
  5. Unlike other stores, Target doesn’t just have one brand of an item, but they’ll have all the major brands to choose from. Using an earlier mentioned example of laundry detergent, they literally have every single brand imaginable lining their shelves. Unlike their competition that may only have two or three brands, Target wants you to find exactly the brand you love using.

BONUS! Their Sunday ads are bright and exciting and get people to pay attention to their sale on laundry detergent because of their artsy-yet-relatable photo shoots. Target’s Sunday newspaper ad is a must-read for many people, not only because of the deals they’re offering but also because of their fun approach that makes it enjoyable to read the entire ad from cover to cover. They’re clean and streamlined and not cluttered.

What You Can Apply:

  • Make sure it’s easy to find the products your customers are looking for. Clean and simple displays go a lot further than displays with a lot of bells and whistles on them.
  • You don’t have to be the cheapest in town, but make sure other things make up for the slightly higher price customers are paying. Having a clean and properly lit store will go a lot further with your customers than paying the absolute lowest price but feeling like they’re shopping in a dark and dingy basement.
  • Build where your customers are, not necessarily only where the rent or land is cheapest. If customers can’t find your location, then what’s the point of being in business? If there’s an existing store that attracts people and is not a direct competitor, then let them draw people to your store as a result of visiting their store.
  • No matter how big or small your store is, it’s important to make sure it’s maneuverable for customers to walk around without knocking over displays. Aisles and designated walkways are a great way to give clues to customers where they should be walking.
  • Give your customers variety with the product offerings you have. Too many choices will leave people overwhelmed, but not enough choices and they’ll go somewhere else that allows them to comparison shop. Some people go for the cheapest with the fewest product options, while others go for the most expensive because they feel that you get what you pay for. Satisfy all these theories and you’ll be golden!
  • Bright and eye-catching advertisements will not only show off your products, but they’ll also keep your customer interested in what you’ve got. Keep your ads clean and uncluttered so that people can easily read your information or clearly see your products. Don’t worry if your logo isn’t 4” x 6” on every page; if you’ve done a good job with your ad, people will actively search for which company this ad belongs to.

What Target is doing isn’t rocket science, but to a small business it can sure seem like it. Hopefully, these tips can help you become more successful and get customers to open up their wallets a bit more than they were planning on. Good luck!

Can you think of anything else that Target gets right? Maybe something they need to improve on? What’s the most you’ve spent at Target without planning on it? Please share in the comments below!


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Amy Swanson

Amy Swanson is a part of the marketing/content department at Quality Logo Products and regularly contributes to their promotional products blog. She is a self-professed newspaper nerd, business buff, and TV enthusiast who cites 'Parks and Recreation' as one of her favorites. But don’t ask her to put in a good word with Ron Swanson – she unfortunately can’t help you there.

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Comments

  1. Excellent post, Amy! All of your points are spot on. I never really thought of it, but you are so right that the flow of the store makes it difficult to just run in and run out. That must be why it’s impossible for me to enter that store without spending at least 50 bucks! Whether I’m on the way to the Electronics section or headed over to the groceries, the clothing is always conveniently on my way and I just can’t resist! I’m headed out to Target tonight, so I’ve pretty much already accepted my fate.

    You’ve offered a lot of great tips for how small business can adopt Target’s practices. Nice work!

    • Haha, it’s really sad that even walking past the grocery section still gets me in trouble. Target just seems to have everything!!

      Thanks so much for the comment, and good for you on accepting Target’s practices. I think that’s the first step in a better relationship with them 😉

  2. My wife and I are TOTAL Target fan boys (and girl).

    Not a week goes by that we don’t shop there.

    … Surprisingly, their stores in the city (downtown Chicago at least) are just as inviting and fun as their stores in the suburbs. There is just something about Target that feels like home when you find yourself in the otherwise dense and chaotic urban jungle that is the city.

    I love you Target! 🙂

    • You’re right about Target feeling “homey” inside them, no matter where you are. Not at all what you’d expect given the tall ceilings and tile floors, but they do have a comforting feel about them.

      I’ve been to the Target in downtown Minneapolis/St. Paul before and even that one for it being 2 or 3 stories tall still felt nice and homey inside it too. Could have been because it was 20 degrees outside and snowing, but I choose to think it was store design that made it comforting. 😉

      Thanks for the great comment, Bret! Target fans unite!!

  3. That Target Dollar Spot is dangerous. Without fail, I’ll walk into the store and say, “Oh look, the Dollar Spot!” as though I’ve never seen it before and spend like 15 minutes browsing in there instead of doing my regular shopping.

    I think another great thing about Target is that they have pretty good-quality store brands. I believe several of their clothing lines are store-brand? Like Merona, for instance. Also their generic food brand — Market Pantry, I think — is usually good. I tend to stay away from generic brands at other stores, but I like Target’s offerings. Plus, Target stores always seem to be clean, which is big in my book! 🙂

    • That darn dollar section gets me every time too, Rachel! I’ve found things in that section that I just can’t live without and therefore can justify the silliness of spending my money there on candy and notebooks instead of laundry detergent or shampoo.

      You make an excellent point about their store brands being top-notch. I think every piece of clothing I have from Target is Merona and their Market Pantry items are so tasty that I don’t really even check out the brand-name items next to them. I had never thought about those before, thanks!

  4. I, too, also love Target. I mean, how could you not?

    One of my other favorite things about them is that even though every store has a slightly different layout, there are always similarities. Like, you know that if you walk into shoes, you’re near women’s clothing; if you walk past the pharmacy, you’ll soon be by beauty products. So in addition to making it easy for your clients to find products, make sure that your products are placed by related products.

    I like to put it like this: I worked at a Target full(ish) time for about a year and a half. And it’s still my favorite store. The most I’ve spent without planning about $140. I’ve spent more, but I definitely planned those purchases. You’re so crafty, Target!

    • Anyone who has worked retail and still enjoys going into that store after they’ve left says a lot about the company as a whole. The store I used to work at I never go into anymore, I still like flipping through their catalog, but I have no desire to go back. Target definitely gets even more points in my book, Mandy!

      Thanks so much for the comment 🙂

  5. Man, I love this place. I swear I can’t get out of there without spending $100. Actually now that I think about it… I should probably hate them for that. But I just can’t… I just can’t.

    • Hahaha, I know exactly what you mean! In theory I should hate spending money that should be going to other things instead of a new pair of shoes or new bookends, but I don’t. I love wandering through Targets and seeing what catches my eye. Pretty sure that sums of being addicted, right? I can quit anytime I want though! 😉

      Thanks for stopping by, Jeff!

  6. Hi Amy, I couldn’t agree with you more–there’s something about Target that hinders me from spending within my means 🙂 It’s true that the principles they stand for are very much applicable to our own businesses, competitive pricing and strategically positioning our products are sure fire ways to get noticed and patronized. Thanks for sharing this engrossing read!

  7. Going to target with a shopping list is a true test of resilience 🙂 I always end up buying more than what I urgently need, it’s hard to set priorities when you’re here. Thanks for the engaging share!

  8. Wow, Target is a really good place to go to. These are some really good reasons you mentioned! Way to go for laying out this really great option for those who don’t know about it and came across your website just now!

  9. These recommendations can definitely be applied by any business that needs a push to generate more customers. Thanks for sharing!

  10. We do not have Target here in India yet, but back in the US i would spend hours in them! Their red and white color theme, the way of presenting their items, their weekly/monthly and holiday sales indeed make me very nostalgic when i think of them. Hopefully, the FDI retail policy in my country will allow Targets and Walmarts to come in my country. Would love to see that happen! Thanks for the informative share.

  11. taget has always been my go-to retail therapy store, the finds are just too great to ignore. Thanks for giving us some thoughts to ponder on, they do have several strengths that we can emulate as business owners

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