Will Target click with Canadian shoppers the second time around?
That’s the question retail and marketing experts are wondering as the U.S. retailer opens up online sales to Canadians – six months after it closed its last department store here.
Here’s what Target Canada stores should have looked like
“Always with companies it’s very important to explore. And this is something which is very unusual,” said David Soberman, a marketing professor at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management.
“You’ve just made an effort to launch a bricks and mortar network, it didn’t work, can you now still create a viable online presence?”
Canada could be a test for the U.S. retailer to glean information about differences between online and bricks-and-mortar shoppers, Soberman said. Web-centric shoppers wouldn’t have been as exposed to the shoddy store execution that plagued Target Canada’s 133 locations before they were shut down, he said.
“We always think they’re the same people, but it could be that they’re quite different audiences,” Soberman said. “There’s always going to be some overlap, but it’s an interesting question” – and one Target may be seeking some answers on.
“It is part of a test and we will have more details to share in the near future,” Jamie Bastian, a Target spokesperson said in an emailed statement.
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Some social media postings following a report about the low-key launch suggest Soberman may have a point.
“Sweet. Maybe I’ll check it out! Never had a Target here so never shopped there before. All I hear is good things about it,” Simcoe, Ontario’s Janice O’Malley commented on Global News’ Facebook page.
Yet many Canadians aren’t willing to easily look passed their previous disappoints with the U.S. retailer, which met unprecedented fanfare when it arrived in Canada in early 2013.
“If [their] shopping site is anything like the stores, the site is probably half empty and horribly disorganized,” Saskatchewan resident Dale Steckler said.
MORE: Here’s what Target Canada stores should have looked like
Some expressed anger about the 17,000 workers hired by Target who were let go en masse in March and April as the retailer shuttered its network of Canadian department stores.
“I won’t ever support [Target] after what it did to our workers,” Brenda Naylor commented.
Others complained about high shipping costs. “The shipping is crazy. $33.53 for 1 box of up and up diapers plus duty. It works out to just over $71 for a box,” a commenter by the name of Steph Pollard said.
It could also just be a low-cost way to snag some incremental sales, U of T’s Soberman suggested.
“There’s going to be some people who have had very good experiences with Target in the U.S. and this will be an option in their shopping,” he said. “But the number is going to be quite limited.”
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—; With a file from