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target grocery deliveryTarget has unleashed a number of new programs aimed at bringing its online and digital experiences up to speed with market leaders, like Amazon.

For instance, this fall, it’s speeding up shipping times that come close to matching Amazon. And, today, the retailer announced its testing delivery through a pilot program with Instacart, with customers near its Minneapolis headquarters able to receive groceries in as little as an hour.

“Our goal is to make grocery shopping easier and more convenient,” said Jason Goldberger, president of Target.com and mobile. “Our team is constantly listening to guests’ needs and looking for new ways to help them shop Target wherever, whenever and however they want.”

Target’s partnership with Instacart underscores the pressure retailers are under to start offering delivery services.

Customers are increasingly able to choose from a variety of on-demand services. The most visible example has been Amazon, which has been aggressively rolling out its Prime Now service, which offers two-hour delivery on some grocery items. But last week, Google also announced a huge expansion of its Express shipping service to 25 million residents in the Midwest, not including Minneapolis.

target Beacon-HeaderIn the case of Target, customers will be able to buy groceries and a small selection of household, health and beauty, pet and baby products, such as diapers and formula. The service will be offered from 9 am to 10 pm daily, and will cost as little as $3.99 for a two-hour scheduled delivery with a purchase of $35 or more. There is a $10 order minimum on all orders.

In addition to entering the grocery delivery business, Target has made a number of moves recently that rival Amazon.

It’s dropped its online shopping requirement to $25 to qualify for free shipping, and it will soon roll out a program, which will get items to customers within two to three days, compared to its previous wait of seven to 10 days. To improve its times, Target is shipping items directly from its stores, rather than far-flung warehouses, which means products will travel less distance to get to customers.

As of recently, the company has focused on its mobile and online efforts as part of its turnaround. Its found that a customer, who shops across both physical and digital stores, is more valuable because they shop more frequently. Under its new CEO Brian Cornell, Target has been promoting four areas — apparel, kids, baby and wellness.

The Instacart pilot will initially be available to select Minneapolis neighborhoods and some suburbs. Customers will have to go to Instacart.com or the Instacart app to shop at Target. In a blog post this morning, both companies said they were committed to exploring plans to expand into additional areas and markets.

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