Target Taps Facebook, Embraces Mobile And Search

Target worked with Facebook to create a mobile application called Cartwheel that allows consumers to save money. The app enables consumers to change product lists daily and features elements of gaming and sharing. The more you share and shop, the more items unlock to create ways to save.

Since the launch, the amount of users has grown more than two times the total forecast. Unlike most apps that get downloaded and used once, more than 80% of Cartwheel users engage with the application weekly. "We see mobile as the future of retail," said David Peterson, senior group manager of digital vendor marketing at Target, who discussed the app, on-site search and advertising at the MediaPost Search Insider Summit during the keynote Tuesday.

Peterson said Facebook was a valuable partner in understanding how a mobile app works and what doesn't, similar to the way HookLogic helps it deliver site visitors on-site ads. Helping consumers search and find products through apps will become natural for retail.

Janel Laravie, founder of Chacka Marketing, called the app "ingenious" for its social sharing aspects. "Not only do you give the consumer a tool that empowers them in stores, but it has a social sharing element that lets you see products that friends use, discounts they take on, and it opens additional savings for every friends using it," she said.

Users log in through their Facebook account and can choose to share or not. The app provides information on how much the user saves per shopping trip, takes it through the year and alerts users when items go on sale. The app does not support traditional advertising. It supports native ads.

Mobile media and devices continue to change Target's business. The company has embraced showrooming -- the use of mobile search while standing in a retail store -- and consumers have embraced Target. Everything the retailer does now comes with a digital strategy. Digital will influence about half of store sales this year. "We don't look at online and in-store sales as separate," Peterson said.

Consumers shopping online and in stores at Target are more affluent and younger, and have children. Consumers research throughout the path to purchase. They use multiple devices.

Search is the glue holding everything together, Peterson said. "Some 82% pull out their mobile phone in the store and conduct a search," he explains. About half of the company's 2 billion online visits will come from mobile devices. Some 50% of consumers use mobile as their primary Internet access, and 75% use mobile for shopping.

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