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Amazon Almost Killed Target. Then, Target Did the Impossible

In 2017, everyone was laughing at Target.

Sales had continued to slide. Stores were in disrepair. And company leaders were struggling to adapt to the changing behavior of consumers–many of whom were shopping more and more with online retailers like Amazon.

As fellow retailers Macy’s, J.C. Penney, and Gap collectively shuttered hundreds of stores because of similar struggles, analysts said Target should do the same.

But Target executives, led by CEO Brian Cornell, had a different idea. The key to revitalizing Target, they said, was to go on the offensive.

So, in March 2017, Target made a huge announcement: It planned to invest over $7 billion in a turnaround strategy that would include:

  • remodeling existing stores (and opening smaller ones in urban areas);
  • introducing new, private label brands; and,
  • enhancing its digital shopping experience.

Wall Street thought the plan was a disaster. On the day of the announcement, Target suffered its largest stock plunge in almost a decade.

But fast-forward to today, and Target is thriving. First-quarter results for 2019 beat analysts’ expectations. The store’s private-label lines are exploding. And as comparable store sales continue to rise, the stock price is trading at an all-time high.

How did Target do it?

A close look at the company’s brilliant turnaround strategy reveals some major lessons for businesses of any size.

Here are some highlights:

Think long term.

When Target announced its turnaround plan, Cornell expected backlash. He knew investors would hate the idea of stuttering profits for the foreseeable future.

But he held fast to his plan. “We’re investing in our business with a long-term view of years and decades, not months and quarters,” Cornell said at the time.

Cornell knew this reset was necessary because so many Target stores had fallen into disrepair over the years. And while the company was making efforts in e-commerce, it simply didn’t have the infrastructure to deliver.

Contrast that with today. Target has remodeled hundreds of stores, and it has built a hundred “mini-stores” in urban areas like New York and on college campuses (with plans to open dozens more of these every year for the foreseeable future). The company also invested heavily in its e-commerce operations to great benefit. (More on this in a minute.)

By focusing on the long-term health of the company instead of short-term financial performance, Cornell took a page out of Jeff Bezos’s playbook–and it clearly worked.

Leverage your strengths.

Target’s e-commerce infrastructure needed a complete revamp. But could the company really compete with Amazon and Walmart, which were years ahead of the curve?

It could–by doing things a little differently.

Target execs knew that as popular as e-commerce has become, the majority of retail shopping still takes place in physical stores–especially when it comes to clothing.

So Target chose to focus on a model that would maximize its strengths. Known as “ship-to-store,” Target’s e-commerce platform turns physical stores into mini warehouses for online customers. That makes it possible for customers to order a product online, and then pick it up in a store on the same day.

Ship-to-store reduces Target’s shipping and handling costs, and takes advantage of already existing space in physical stores. And if a customer decides to do some shopping while already there at Target, the benefit is two-fold.

Fill a gap.

Consumers had once affectionately referred to Target as “Tarzhay,” an ode to products and style that were affordable yet a step above those offered by competitors like Walmart. Over time, though, Target had created too many labels that were clear misses.

“Tarzhay” had lost its cachet.

But nobody had stepped up to fill that gap of stylish, exclusive clothing for lower prices. So, in an effort to rebuild its reputation, Target doubled down on its exclusive brands. The company has launched 20 private-label lines over the past three years, including brands for modern furniture, kids’ clothes, electronics, and home goods.

The investment paid off: Six of Target’s private-labels each do more than a billion dollars in annual sales. These labels, together with other brands sold exclusively at Target,  contribute nearly a third of the company’s overall revenue (and an even greater percentage of profits).

In addition, Target has worked hard to fill gaps left by unsuccessful competitors. For example, when stores like Toys “R” Us and the Sports Authority went bankrupt, Target saw this as opportunity: market share begging to be gobbled up.

Yes, Target has definitely gotten its groove back. It did so by bucking analysts’ advice, and instead returning to basics:

Thinking long-term. Leveraging strengths. Filling gaps.

I guess Target got the last laugh after all.

By: Justin Bariso Author, EQ Applied

Source: Amazon Almost Killed Target. Then, Target Did the Impossible

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Amazon’s Rising Shipping Costs Eat Into Profits

It turns out that one-day shipping is an expensive endeavor. Amazon reported worse-than-expected profits in its latest quarter, thanks in part to an aggressive effort to slash delivery times down to one day for items ordered on its site.

The e-commerce giant said on Thursday that profits during its second quarter rose 3.6% to $2.6 billion from the same period a year ago. That equates to $5.22 per share, which fell far short of the $5.57 per share that Wall Street analysts had anticipated.

Amazon’s shipping costs surged by 36% to over $8 billion in the last quarter. That is a sharp uptick when compared with the previous three quarters, when shipping costs had risen by around 20%. Amazon has stepped up its investment in its shipping capabilities after promising in April that it would make one-day shipping the new normal for members of Amazon Prime, rather than the two-day shipping that it has long offered.

The company said that it is making progress on the initiative and that free one-day shipping is now available to Prime members on more than 10 million items. “Customers are responding to Prime’s move to one-day delivery—we’ve received a lot of positive feedback and seen accelerating sales growth,” said Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos in a statement.

Bezos has made an Amazon Prime membership, which carries a price tag of $119 a year, a staple in over 100 million households across the country. A big part of the draw is free shipping on millions of items. Amazon has sought to stay ahead of the curve here as retailers like Walmart and Target pile on with free shipping offers of their own, which typically require a minimum order size but don’t charge an annual fee.

It’s also a play to satisfy its most impatient customers. Amazon noted on a call with analysts and investors on Thursday that it hopes one-day shipping will cut down on the number of customers who end up leaving Amazon and buying an item elsewhere because it isn’t available for delivery fast enough.

Amazon also saw a rise in marketing costs during the quarter, as well as an uptick in compensation costs as it continues to grow its workforce. Overall costs rose 21% in the quarter.

Sales increased 20% to $63.4 billion, topping analyst estimates of $62.5 billion. However, investors seemed to focus on the disappointing bottom line. Shares of Amazon slid 2% in after-hours trading on Thursday.

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I am a staff writer at Forbes covering retail. I’m particularly interested in entrepreneurs who are finding success in a tough and changing landscape. I have been at Forbes since 2013, first on the markets and investing team and most recently on the billionaires team. In the course of my reporting, I have interviewed the father of Indian gambling, the first female billionaire to enter the space race and the immigrant founder of one of the nation’s most secretive financial upstarts. My work has also appeared in Money Magazine and CNNMoney.com. Tips or story ideas? Email me at ldebter@forbes.com.

 

Source: Amazon’s Rising Shipping Costs Eat Into Profits

DoorDash And Amazon Won’t Change Tipping Policy After Instacart Controversy; If You’re Worried, Carry Cash

The tipping controversy that prompted Instacart to reverse a compensation plan to its contract workers isn’t likely to go away: Rivals DoorDash and Amazon Flex are continuing to adjust driver pay based on how much they get tipped, saying doing so ensures a minimum payout. The practice, which has its roots in the way brick-and-mortar restaurants pay waitstaff, has been adapted to suit the needs of app-based delivery companies…………

Source: DoorDash And Amazon Won’t Change Tipping Policy After Instacart Controversy; If You’re Worried, Carry Cash

Why Jeff Bezos’ Divorce Could be Bullish for Amazon Shares

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News of Amazon chief Jeff Bezos and wife MacKenzie Bezos divorcing sparked questions about how the split could affect the world’s most valuable company’s stock. While there were questions, there wasn’t panic. Investors are in wait-and-see mode. The news, which came Wednesday via a tweet from Jeff Bezos, barely moved Amazon’s share price. It closed Friday at $1,640.56……..

Source: Why Jeff Bezos’ Divorce Could be Bullish for Amazon Shares

Banned From Amazon: The Shoppers Who Make Too Many Returns – Khadeeja Safdar & Laura Stevens

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The e-commerce giant bans shoppers from the site for infractions such as returning too many items, sometimes without telling them what they did wrong. Amazon has cultivated an image as a customer-friendly company in part by making it easy for shoppers to send back items they don’t want. The site’s lax return policies have conditioned consumers to expect the same treatment from other retailers, adding to pressure on brick-and-mortar chains. But shoppers are finding out there are some customers Amazon has determined aren’t worth keeping………….

Read more: https://www.wsj.com/articles/banned-from-amazon-the-shoppers-who-make-too-many-returns-1526981401?mod=djmc_pkt_ff&tier_1=21128300&tier_2=dcm&tier_3=21128300&tier_4=0&tier_5=4508749

 

 

 

 

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