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Target becomes latest retailer to introduce new in-store tech in push for online sales

Department store giant Target is using a new digital fitting technology to help create better clothing sizing, in an attempt to compete with multichannel retailers. 

Target’s new managing director, Dene Rogers also confirmed the company may follow the lead of JB Hi-Fi and other smaller retailers, and look into importing product directly from manufacturers so shoppers can save on GST – a move experts say is becoming more prominent among larger players.

“To be a successful retailer you have to adapt and change,” he told The Australian. “You have to be competitive online and provide the best in-store experience for shoppers.”

Rogers’ comments come as the company starts to push more money into its multi-channel offering over the coming months.

Rogers confirmed late last week Target was introducing a new piece of technology to help reduce the rate of return for online-only purchases, which continues to grow as online sales take off. The company will spend $1 million to undertake a sizing study with help of a body scanner, which will be placed in stores so users will be able to find out their best size.

“The Target-tested fit will mean the garment’s proportion will sit very nicely on the body. The study will provide us with a consistent and accurate measurement of different sizes and shape,” he says.

This comes just weeks after Sportsgirl introduced its own technology into stores that allow users to send pictures of themselves wearing a particular outfit, and follows the launch of virtual stores by Sportsgirl and Woolworths where customers can buy products through QR codes.

Forrester Research analyst Steven Noble says the digitisation of retail – a topic on which Forrester has written an entire report – comes as stores attempt to update themselves for the new age in multi-channel shopping.

“These businesses are heavily investing in the online experience, and it’s an important opportunity for organisations to enhance and upgrade their presence,” he says.

While Target says the scanning technology is an attempt to help people find better clothes in-store, it also is a direct link to online sales, with Rogers saying the company expects more sales both in-store and online thanks to the new technology.

"As a retailer we have to provide them with the best experience both online and in-store,” he says.

Noble says this type of technology – along with examples such as Sportsgirl and Woolworths – show how larger retailers are beginning to use their clout and cash and invest in technology.

“The digitisation of the in-store experience is a trend we’ve noticed, and it’s not so much about competing with the online offering as it is enhancing the in-store experience altogether.”

The other change comes as Rogers suggests the company may investigate ways to import product in order to avoid GST – JB Hi-Fi and Harvey Norman have already introduced similar ventures.

“If this becomes an established practice,” Noble says, “it gives more visibility to the importance that comes in undercutting the threshold, and therefore probably gives more ammunition to the retailers which would like to see that reduced.”

“Right now, the retailers doing this have several motives, but one is to not miss out on the action that Australian consumers have been accessing for a while. They want a piece of it.”

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