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“There’s a reason they are used often at apparel stores,” said Sean Naughton, an analyst with Piper Jaffray & Co. “A mannequin is very helpful to the consumer to see an entire outfit put together.”
And typically, those outfits on mannequins outsell other items in the store, he added. But discount big-box stores haven’t used them much in the past because they require an extra investment and more coordination and labor to change the outfits.
Target began remodeling many parts of its stores a few years ago when it added an expanded grocery selection in what the retailer called its PFresh remodels. It lowered shelf heights in the shoe department so you could see more of the entire assortment and took jewelry out of the cases, Naughton said.
“Now this is the next evolution of that,” he said.
Amy Koo, an analyst with Kantar Retail, noted that many of Target’s upgrades are aimed at making stores more engaging and interactive to bring more value to the store. Case in point: the revamped electronics department. That area, which was reset at the Quarry store in October, is now being tested in 23 stores and will be rolled out to at least another 20 stores this year. Part of the remodeling includes adding chairs for customers to sit on while they explore Target.com.
Being able to hold a tablet or phone in your hands and tool around with it is one of the reasons customers go to the store in the first place.
“Why else would you go to the store?” Koo said. “Otherwise, I can just buy it online.”
She added that Target is also stepping up the training of employees so they are more knowledgeable about products in the revamped electronics and baby departments. That also enhances the in-store experience, she said.
The baby section, expanded to nearly 30 stores this spring, is going into 200 more locations this summer. Besides the bright lighting and lower displays, customers have also welcomed changes such as separating baby clothes by gender, Mayer said.
Amber Brookman of St. Paul usually shops at a Target closer to her home, but she sometimes stops by the Quarry store on her way home from work because she likes the new baby section. She said she it feels less cluttered, but that it also seems to have a wider selection.
“Everything is lower to the ground,” she added.
Next month, the Quarry store will begin testing another enhancement. It will replace the price scanners found throughout the store with iPads to allow customers to find out more information about products and to pull up the weekly ads, Mayer said.
It’s too early to say whether the iPad strategy will be coming to other stores in the near future. It depends, of course, on how well the test goes.
Kavita Kumar • 612-673-4113