Target is doubling down on a key advantage as it gears up for a holiday-shopping battle with Amazon

  • Target has its sights set on Amazon this holiday season.
  • Reuters reported that the company plans to fulfill 90% of all orders through its store inventory this year.
  • "Our stores are at the center of our digital growth," CEO Brian Cornell told CNBC earlier this month.

Target has placed a bullseye on Amazon this holiday season.

The retail chain isn't just removing the order minimum on the majority of its online purchases for the holidays. Target is also planning to expand its digital-order-fulfillment capabilities within its stores.

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8 insider facts about shopping at Target
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8 insider facts about shopping at Target

Target has a state-of-the-art forensics program to catch shoplifters, among other things

Apparently CSI: Target is a thing.

The retail chain runs two forensic labs, one in Minneapolis and the other in Las Vegas. On its website, Target said its investigators solve cases through "video and image analysis, latent fingerprint and computer forensics."

In a 2008 article profiling the Target Forensic Services team, Forbes reported that 70% of the lab's time is spent looking into fraud, theft, and personal cases.

But Target investigators have also assisted law enforcement agencies on a number of armed robbery, kidnapping, and homicide cases, according to Minnesota Public Radio.

People who said they've worked at Target before took to Reddit to note that the stores tend to have state-of-the-art camera surveillance.

"The resolution on those things was insane," one Reddit poster wrote.

"I worked at Target in the early nineties and it was insane then," another Reddit user added. "Twenty years later and I wouldn't be surprised if they weigh me as I enter and as I leave to determine if I'm shoplifting."

Be nice to employees — it might pay off.

Sometimes, it pays to be nice.

Business Insider's Kate Taylor previously reported on a viral blog started by Target employee Tom Grennell.

He wrote about working during a special sale when his Target store was giving out a 10% discount on all purchases. The only catch? Shoppers had to ask for the discount.

"I have a coupon to scan if anyone asks for it. I scan it if people don't ask for it if they're nice to me," Grennell wrote. "I don't scan it if they're rude. Power is a new sensation. Power is a good sensation."

You can't necessarily spot a clearance item by its price tag.

The website Truth or Fiction threw cold water on the idea that prices ending in certain numbers indicate clearance items at Target.

"The ending digit of a clearance price is determined by several factors including the original retail price and the applied percentage discount," former Target PR rep Evan Lapiska told Truth or Fiction. "It is not possible to determine the final markdown or timing of the price change from the item's current price."

The website also debunked the idea that Target's mark downs run on a weekly schedule.

Target cashiers are motivated to do a speedy checkout.

Target cashiers are reportedly under pressure to check you out as quickly as possible.

Former Target cashier and Quora user Ashley Zurita wrote that, "Target has a system where they time you on how fast you get a customer through check out."

She said that employees go through weekly evaluations, during which they're given either a red, yellow, or green designation.

"If you get the color red, it means you are moving way too slow and not meeting the standards for checking people out through the line fast enough," Zurita wrote. "You can also be yellow, which means you are still not getting the customer checked out fast enough and you need to improve your time. Then there is green. If you get the green color you are doing a good job and keeping a fast pace checking out customers."

She said that failing to achieve green more than twice in a row can cause a Target cashier to be moved to a stocking role.

You can use Target to get rid of gift cards.

Got gift cards that you'd just like to get rid of?

At participating Target stores, you can swap out unwanted gift cards from brands like Bed, Bath, and Beyond; Costco; Sam's Club; Nordstrom; and more. Just head over to the store's mobile phone counter.

Buzzfeed reported that you "won't get 100% of the card's value — you might even get less than online offers," however.

Employees see some pretty strange stuff on the job.

One Target employee told Cosmopolitan about a shopper who angrily knocked over a soap display after employees complied with local laws by refusing to sell her alcohol after 9 p.m.

Another employee described watching a group of teenagers drag some bean bag chairs into the middle of an aisle and proceed to eat snow, according to Cosmopolitan.

And a third Target employee recalled a customer who returned three full bags of groceries because "her kids didn't like" her purchases, Cosmopolitan reported.

Target employees say the rules around uniforms are pretty lax.

Target employees aren't given uniforms. Instead, according to the blog Tough Nickel, they must wear khaki pants or skirts and completely red shirts. 

Former Target employee and Quora user Brian Walsh wrote that the chain doesn't "... care about the shade of red. Some of my coworkers had shirts that were closer to maroon."

To be sure the person you're approaching for help is an employee and not a shopper, look for a name tag first.

Employees get 20% off on fruits and vegetables.

Target employees get a 10% discount on store and online purchases.

But they get a significantly larger discount on other items.

Target employee and Quora user Nelson Brown wrote, "Your team member discount card gives an additional 20% off on fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables, and any 'Simply Balanced' store brand products. Makes the prices for those products a lot more competitive."

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According to Reuters, Target currently fulfills 50% of all digital orders through its physical stores, although that number jumped to 70% during the 2017 holiday season. This year, the goal is to fulfill 90% of all online orders with store inventory.

"Our stores are at the center of our digital growth," CEO Brian Cornell told CNBC earlier this month. "They are fulfilling the majority of our online orders. They are center to everything we are doing at Target."

Target's overhaul of its fulfillment strategy has set the stage for a holiday battle with Amazon. And unlike Amazon, Target can rely on its own existing store infrastructure to expand its fulfillment capabilities. It's an advantage that Walmart also shares.

But unlike Walmart, which is sticking to its strategy of offering associates more hours during busier times of the year, Target is following Amazon's lead and boosting its workforce during the holiday rush. This year, Amazon plans to hire 100,000 seasonal employees to work in its fulfillment centers. And Reuters reported that Target will hire 120,000 seasonal workers. 7,500 of those temporary team members will be assigned to "pack boxes in warehouses."

Target's plans for boosting its store fulfillment align with CB Insights analyst Natan Reddy's recent presentation on "Reimagining the Physical Store," which listed Target as one of the retailers transforming its stores into fulfillment centers. According to Reddy, Target will achieve this transition by paring down its inventory "to make space for digital fulfillment."

Target's move to e-commerce is likely the ticket to success in a new era for retail. Business Insider's Mary Hanbury reported that the company, along with competitors like Walmart, Target,Nordstrom, and Kohl's, saw "strong earnings results in the most recent quarter after launching new initiatives to blend e-commerce and in-store shopping."

Currently, a Target shopper can buy products through the retailer's mobile app, drive over to one of the approximately 1,000 stores that provide drive-up services, and have their purchases delivered to their car.

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