Commenting after Target’s womenswear ambassador, Jessica Mauboy, officially opened its refitted store in Chatswood, Sydney on Friday last week, outgoing Target managing director, Stuart Machin, said, “Each of the stores we revamp outperform our fleet. Our sales and margin densities are always higher in these stores than our older stores, and our customer numbers go up.”
He noted that although the Target brand is 90 years old and iconic, it had lacked the investment it needed.
“The average age of refit in our stores has been 15 years,” he told Inside Retail Weeekly at the Chatswood opening last week. “It’s only in the past two years that we have been investing in our stores. So over time, the brand got a bit outdated.”
The Chatswood store, which is 30 years old, is Target’s first next generation store in New South Wales following the launch of the concept in select Melbourne stores late last year.
“We wanted to create an environment that is down to earth,” said Machin. “It had to be true to our brand, which is all about affordable fashion. It has mum very much at its heart. It’s a bit more feminine and has things like an instore café, children’s play area and state-of-the-art fitting rooms where there is room to change, not little cubicles. There’s lots of room for mums to navigate prams. We wanted to make it for mum easy to get around.”
Indeed, the store has long, wide aisles, a simpler layout and feels larger than it did in its previous format. Its use of signage makes it much easier to understand the product offering and what’s on offer, and to find the different departments from the entrance.
The store’s new features include free Wi-Fi, a parent’s room, upgraded, larger more modern and stylish change rooms, an on-site clothing alteration service, a digital photo kiosk for quick printing and a T-shirt printing station where customers can come in with their own designs and create their own fashion. Also proving popular are its styling experts, who help customers shop the latest trends and find what suits them.
In line with a trend for retailers to turn themselves into “a destination” through the use of food, the new store features an instore café, which serves a selection of sweet and savoury foods as well as Target’s award-winning Victorian roasted coffee and other drinks. Alongside the café, Target sells its own range of cookies, savoury biscuits, nuts, popcorn and confectionery – all made with natural ingredients – under its private label, The Fabulous Food Company.
Machin said the store took about 10 weeks to refit and continued trading while the upgrade was underway. “It was a challenging refit because the store is below ground level and has lots of pillars.”
He added that Target has put more mannequins in the store to show off its products, and these fit its Every Body campaign, which recognises that Australians come in all shapes and sizes.
“Our mannequins are not the typical size six or size eight,” explained Machin. “We will have mannequins up to size 20. We are a very down to earth brand. We are very middle Australia and we have to recognise the diversity of the country in all aspects.”
The new format also benefits from Target’s new app for mobile devices. Not only did it boost Target’s online business by 45 per cent in the last six months of 2015, it allows shoppers to scan prices instore and instantly tap into more information without having to talk to a salesperson. They can view product ratings, reviews, colour options and assess the availability of the product at other locations.
Learning on the job
Target, which has more than 300 stores in Australia, has already launched next generation stores in Chadstone, Eastland and Werribee in Victoria; Springfield Central, Earlville and Cairns in Queensland; Joondalup in Western Australia; and Murray Bridge in South Australia.
However, as Machin observed, not all its refits are alike.
“We are learning as we go. About 80 per cent of what we do in the new stores is the same, but we also take on feedback from our team members and customers on what’s working and what’s not,” he explained.
“There are some new things in the Chatswood store. For example, we have better visual merchandising. We are using updated pieces of equipment, which hold more volume. We’ve also moved our Click n Collect service, which allows shoppers to pick up their online shopping orders instore, so that it’s right by the entrance, after some customers said they did not want to que at tills. And we will keep evolving.”
Machin did not reveal which Target stores were next in line for a revamp, saying this decision would be made in coming months. However, in its half-year report, released in February, parent Wesfarmers noted that Target’s customer experience would be enhanced by the expected rollout of a further seven new format stores in the six months to 30 June 2016.
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