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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 Is Launching a New Program to Donate Unsold Products, After Reports That Millions Were Being Destroyed

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Amazon wants its third-party sellers to make better use of their unsold or unwanted products that often get dumped — by giving them away to charity.

Amazon is launching a new donations program, called Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) Donations, for third-party sellers that store their inventory in Amazon’s warehouses in the U.S. and UK, CNBC has learned. Starting on September 1, the donation program will become the default option for all sellers when they choose to dispose of their unsold or unwanted products stored in Amazon warehouses across those two countries. Sellers can opt out of the program, if they want.

The donations will be distributed to a network of U.S. nonprofits through a group called Good360 and UK charities such as Newlife and Barnardo’s. After this story was published, Amazon announced the program via a blog post on Wednesday afternoon.

The new donations program is designed to reduce the amount of inventory that must be dumped from Amazon’s warehouses, helping the environment and putting otherwise wasted products to some use. Recent reports found that Amazon routinely discards unsold inventory, with one French TV documentary estimating Amazon to have destroyed over 3 million products in France last year. Given that Amazon generates the bulk of its sales in the U.S., the number of destroyed inventory in its U.S. warehouses is likely much larger than those found in other countries.

“This program will reduce the number of products sent to landfills and instead help those in need,” Amazon wrote in the email to sellers announcing the launch.

Sellers who spoke to CNBC said the new program makes it cheaper to donate their unwanted inventory. Amazon charges 50 cents to return unsold inventory to sellers, much more than the 15 cents charged for disposal. Sellers destroy their inventory for a variety of reasons, including returns that are no longer usable or for safety issues.

In an email statement to CNBC, Amazon’s spokesperson confirmed the launch of the new program, adding it’s “working hard” to bring the number of destroyed products to zero.

“At Amazon, the vast majority of returned products are resold to other customers or liquidators, returned to suppliers, or donated to charitable organizations, depending on their condition,” Amazon said.

By: Eugene Kim

Source: https://www.cnbc.com/

 

Walmart And Target Are A Step Ahead Of Amazon

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Traditional brick and mortar retailers Walmart and Target are a step ahead of Amazon in the delivery battleground: while Amazon is offering 1-day delivery Walmart and Target are already moving to same-day.

That’s according to retail equity analyst John Zolidis.

“It may be tempting to think that Amazon investing $800 million to move its Prime offer of 2-day shipping to 1-day delivery will put incremental pressure on large retailers,” he says.  “However, this move is not a surprise.  We spoke with Wal-Mart (WMT) CEO Doug McMillon about this in October last year. He told us that same-day delivery, not 1-day delivery, was going to be the real battleground.”

McMillon is right. As was discussed in a previous piece here something has changed in the retailing industry in recent years.

Instead of fading away into the archives of history, brick and mortar retailing has come back to complement and support on-line retailing. Shoppers are placing orders online and are picking up merchandise at neighborhood stores, saving time and avoiding shipping fees.

That’s especially the case for groceries, where speed of delivery is a crucial factor in maintaining freshness.

The merging of online retailing with traditional retailing has provided an advantage to retailers with extensive neighborhood store presence like Walmart and Target. “Both WMT and Target (TGT) are already at a huge advantage over AMZN in this respect — because both retailers already have product stored within a short driving distance of the vast majority of the U.S. population in their respective 1,000’s of stores,” notes Zolidis. “Further, both retailers are offering not just delivery (Target already has same-day delivery via Shipt) but various options for BOPIS (buy online pickup in store).

Amazon, Walmart, and Target Shares YTD

Amazon, Walmart, and Target Shares YTD

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Then there are pick up points to enhance convenience. “WMT now has pickup towers in-store and are installing these across the chain, and it has established drive-through pick-up grocery lanes and is continuing to add these at a rapid pace,” adds Zolidis.  “Target is offering similar services and installing dedicated counters for customers to more conveniently grab items on the way home from work or after picking up kids from school. Target will also bring pre-ordered items out to your car in the parking lot.”

The strategy has been paying off. The two retailers have reported a rebound in both online sales and retail sales in recent quarters.

Simply put, Walmart and Target have changed the game in the retailing industry. And they have brought Amazon back into the world of the neighborhood store it once sought to eliminate by acquiring traditional retailers like Whole Foods — and by planning to open more grocery stores around the country to cater to markets not served by Whole Foods, as recently announced.

That’s why Zolidis thinks that investors would be making a mistake selling Walmarts and Target’s shares at this point.

“In our opinion,” he concludes, “it would be a mistake to sell large retailers on this announcement (WMT & TGT) as they have anticipated this for some time and are already rolling-out corresponding services.”

My recent book The Ten Golden Rules Of Leadership is published  by AMACOM, and can be found here. 

I’m Professor and Chair of the Department of Economics at LIU Post in New York. I also teach at Columbia University.

Source: Walmart And Target Are A Step Ahead Of Amazon

Amazon Shares Drop After Q3 Sales Fall Short And Holiday Outlook Disappoints – Andria Cheng

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Amazon.com AMZN +7.24%, facing growing competition on all fronts led by Walmart, reported disappointing third-quarter sales, sending its shares lower in after-hours trading. Sales in the quarter ended Sept. 30 rose 29% to $56.6 billion, compared with the consensus Wall Street estimate of sales rising above $57 billion. Sales would have risen 30% without the negative impact of a stronger dollar that hurt translated overseas sales by $260 million……

Read more: https://www.forbes.com/sites/andriacheng/2018/10/25/amazon-shares-drop-after-q3-sales-fall-short-and-holiday-outlook-may-disappoint/#202775e83048

 

 

 

 

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