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How a mobile-first approach changed the way shoppers interact with Target | Thoughtworks

A mobile-first approach to creating an engaging shopper experience

Target is an iconic Australian retailer dedicated to making fashion, style and quality affordable for the whole family. Recently named Australia’s favourite online apparel retailer (StarTrack Online Retailers 2015 report), they wanted to use mobile as a way to connect Target’s multiple channels to their customers, and create a more engaging shopping experience.

Target chose Thoughtworks to bring this vision to life and launch at peak trading, as well as help them build long-term capabilities designed to improve customer experience. 

Thoughtworks User Experience Designers engaged with almost 3000 customers to discover opportunities and narrow down the scope for the mobile application. Rather than traditional research techniques that are focused on demographics, the team focused on ethnographic methods, which helped go beyond the relationship of customers with the store, to understand how Target fits into the broader context of their lives. As a part of the service design mapping, Thoughtworks involved Target’s store team members, call centre staff, marketers, and merchandising leads to ensure a holistic understanding of the customer.

Rapid prototyping was used to turn customer insights into tangible assets, so the team could test new features with real customers. As customers behave differently to how they say they will behave, contextual observation of in-store and online shopping habits helped capture moments of delight, which allowed the team to quickly validate assumptions and define the feature set for the app.

Having a vision to create the best mobile shopping experience that bridges between Target’s multiple channels and their customers, Thoughtworks decided to focus on building highly experiential native apps rather than mobile web. This decision allowed the team create a more interactive experience that encourages regular usage, provides the ability to access native features such as camera, make it available for team members to access the product catalogue offline, as well as better reporting. The iOS app was released in 5 months, ahead of the 2015 holiday season, and an Android version was released in 3 months.

Rather than focusing on features, Thoughtworks delivered a world-class digital product that goes beyond just transactions. It focuses on building an ecosystem of experiences, which makes users feel that the sum is greater than its parts.

For us, it’s the inspiration feed on the home screen, seeing all offers in one place, and things like the exclusive personalised offers, such as early access to the Jean Paul Gaultier collection. It’s the overall unique experience that customers come back for.
Peter Mitchley-Hughes
General Manager E-Commerce, Digital Marketing and Loyalty, Target Australia

With a big focus on inspiration, a great feature that Target customers absolutely love is the integrated Instagram feed that replaces the traditional way of browsing products online. The shoppable feed allows customers purchase a complete look and keep up with the latest fashion trends. Another popular feature is the built-in product barcode scanner so customers and team members can both see pricing, colour and stock availability while in-store. 

Released with limited marketing investment to promote the apps, Target saw a rapid increase in iOS downloads (270K* in just 4 months), as customer acquisition was built into the product. Today, the app consistently remains one of the best rated, and most downloaded apparel apps for iOS and Android.

Since launch Target continuously added new features and improved existing functionality, which led to a 68% increase in repeat usage. In addition to delivering a world-class app, Target teams are now in a position to develop and deploy rapidly enough to test new ideas with their engaged customer base, and ensure continuous improvement to Target’s customer experience. 

(*App Annie Market Insights - February 2016)

The Target app is the cornerstone of our connected retail strategy as it allows customers to interact with Target in ways that they never have before.
Peter Mitchley-Hughes
General Manager E-Commerce, Digital Marketing and Loyalty, Target Australia

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