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Target exec: Mobile is not optional for us

June 10, 2010

Nathan Maehren, mobile channel manager at Target

Nathan Maehren, mobile channel manager at Target

NEW YORK – A Target executive talked about how and why the retail giant uses mobile bar codes in all of its 1,740 stores in the United States, during his presentation at the Mobile Marketing Forum.

Target uses mobile bar codes to address three business objectives. It wants to differentiate the customer experience, drive awareness and influence sales.

“Through the use of mobile coupons we are able to meet customers’ needs such as self service, which ultimately leads to customer satisfaction,” said Nathan Maehren, mobile channel manager at Target, St. Paul, MN.

“We have been able to enhance the shopping experience for customers,” he said.

Target first launched its nationwide mobile couponing initiative in March. It lets consumers redeem discount offers by scanning a 2D bar code at the point of sale.

The retail giant claims that this was the first program of its kind available across the entire United States.

Target believes that mobile couponing will be a competitive advantage for its brand (see story).

Target customers are using their mobile phones to research and purchase products and services, per Mr. Maehren.

Moms are 42 percent more likely to download mobile content than other mobile phone users.

Target is using bar codes to help consumers find information on products, prices, sales, ratings/reviews and availability.

target-2Bar codes also let Target customers interact with content such as video. Target customers are using bar codes to complete tasks such as adding items to a Gift Registry.

Additionally, bar codes allow Target customers to share with others through social tools such as Facebook, email, text and bookmarking.

Target’s mobile coupon program is an opt-in initiative that delivers multiple offers monthly via a single bar code.

Consumers are able to save a physical gift card on their mobile device and redeem their balance in-store.

Target Baby and Club Wedd use mobile bar codes to let customers update registries and checkout.

The company uses multiple mobile platforms such as the mobile Web, applications and SMS alerts.

Analytics guide Target. The company hypothesizes and prototypes. It measures and evolves programs based on findings.

Feedback from customers is critical because it drives improvement.

Are 2D bar codes right for your brand?

Target said that it depends.

“Needs guide every decision,” Mr. Maehren said. “We use mobile to provide the needs of the anywhere Web.

“Mobile lets us unleash new capabilities in the retail environment,” he said. “For us mobile is not optional.”

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Giselle Tsirulnik is senior editor at Mobile Commerce Daily and Mobile Marketer. Reach her at

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