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target shippingTarget is gearing up to launch a new program this fall that intends on speeding up shipping times that comes close to matching Amazon’s speed and reliability.

Through a program called “available to promise,” Target says it will be able to ship items to customers within two to three days, compared to its previous wait of seven to 10 days.

As part of the program, customers will also be given a specific arrival date for their order rather than a range. “This service is designed to offer guests greater specificity on when they can expect to receive their order,” a spokeswoman said.

photo credit: CarlMalamud via Flickr.
photo credit: CarlMalamud via Flickr.

Target’s shipping window can be as little as three to five days when a customer places an order of $25 or more. In those cases, shipping is also free. But generally, it’s struggled along with other brick-and-mortar retailers in providing specific arrival times for packages. Not only were some of the companies’ warehouses and fulfillment centers designed initially to distribute inventory to their own stores — not the end customer — but it hasn’t had the processes in place to focus on speed.

As a result, it has been difficult to compete with Amazon, which has built a network from the ground up to focus on speed and reliability. Customers, who pay $99 a year for Amazon Prime, routinely get packages within two days if not faster.

To improve its times, Target has started shipping items from their stores and its warehouses, which means products will automatically be closer to its customers. Target is already shipping digital orders from about 140 stores, but by the end of this year, it estimates it will be doing that from more than 450 locations (out of its 1,800 stores).

The new shipping program, which will be competing for Amazon’s most loyal customers, was discussed last week as part of the company’s second-quarter earnings.

“We believe that available to promise which will roll-out this fall will give our guest the confidence that they know where the product is and when it will arrive for them either in a store for them to pick up or being available directly to their home,” said Target’s CEO Brian Cornell, during a call with analysts, according to SeekingAlpha. “We want to give them the confidence that when they order they know it’s available to promise and we’re going to have it there for them when they need it.”

Earlier this year, the Minneapolis-based retailer said digital sales were a priority since customers, who shop in-person and online, make purchases three times as often as a person who only shops in the store. It hopes to boost digital sales by 40 percent in the coming years.

Target is still falling short of that goal, reporting that online online sales grew by 30 percent in the second quarter. Still, it is that growth that is helping to the company report overall revenue growth of 2.4 percent.

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