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Target test takes aim at Amazon

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MINNEAPOLIS — Target Corp. is testing a household essentials delivery service that is said to have cheaper shipping and shorter delivery times than those available to Amazon.com Inc.’s Prime Pantry customers.

The service, called Target Restock, launched late last month as a pilot in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area for the retailer’s RedCard holders. Target said customers who place an order Monday through Thursday before 2 p.m. can expect delivery by the next day.

“Target Restock is all about making the Target Run easier — and helping our guests save time in their busy lives,” said chief information and digital officer Mike McNamara. “We look forward to seeing how guests in our hometown market respond to this new offering.”

Target last spring announced that it would use about 1,000 stores for direct shipping in a bid to match Amazon’s free, two-day delivery available to its Prime customers. Target is positioning its stores as local distribution hubs — housing goods ordered online in backroom storage areas until they can either be picked up by shoppers or shipped to their homes.

Target Restock aims to make the delivery option more attractive by promising a streamlined checkout and next-day delivery on thousands of items. Target loyalty card holders can log on to a new website (target.com/restock) to shop and fill a virtual shopping box with items weighing up to 45 pounds, which would be delivered for a $4.99 fee.

The company said it would test the Restock program using various delivery providers, beginning with United Parcel Service Inc.

Target isn’t the only retailer leveraging its brick-and-mortar footprint to bolster e-commerce fulfillment and thereby reconnect with shoppers who have been drawn away by Amazon. Walmart recently announced it would offer its store employees additional pay to deliver packages on their commutes to and from work. The program would allow Walmart to reduce its reliance on FedEx Corp. and UPS to handle home delivery. Walmart also uses Uber and Lyft drivers and Instacart’s app to let individuals sign up for shopping and delivery assignments.

The search for cheaper last-minute delivery is also driving investment in autonomous cars and drones.


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