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Amazon and Target’s Retail Rumble

22 May 2017

From Boston Magazine:

It didn’t take more than a few minutes of wandering around the sparkling new Target store in Central Square for it to dawn on me: Somehow, contained in this 21,000-square-foot expanse, is everything that most people, on most days, could ever need. There’s trail mix, school binders, blazers, smartphones, basketballs, Star Wars toys, bedding, toilet paper, Beats by Dre headphones, and at least half a dozen passable button-down shirts. Given the current retail climate, it felt like a store engineered specifically to keep me from buying things on the Internet—an act of war, so to speak, against Target’s archrival, Amazon. Which, it turns out, is exactly the case.

Practically overnight, Boston has become one of the most important national battlegrounds as Amazon and Target vie for retail supremacy. This year, Amazon announced the local launch of its one-hour Prime delivery service, by way of a fulfillment center in the heart of Boston. Need diapers, a digital food thermometer, and a desk lamp before noon? Jump online, enter your order, and wait for your doorbell to ring. And Amazon’s onslaught doesn’t stop there: The city is speckled with the company’s storage lockers, the suburbs are home to some of Amazon’s first brick-and-mortar bookshops, and company executives are scouring Boston for larger office space. Rumor has it that Amazon has been toying with the idea of buying out BJ’s, the Framingham-based wholesaler, in a deal that would not only be a significant move for the company, but also a massive local real estate play.

For its part, Target is no less enamored of Boston, a so-called “priority area” to grow new stores and help the company shore up sales and its stock price—both of which are plummeting while Amazon’s numbers soar. As a result, the company is embracing cities and opening small-format stores like the ones in Central Square and on Boston University’s campus, hoping to make itself irresistible to college students, tech-savvy professionals, and youngish urbanites with money to spend. A Target spokesperson tells me that they are constantly scouting real estate in Boston and have plans to open a new location in Roslindale, which will be the fourth new Target to hit Boston within the past two years.

It is, to say the least, a risky bet for Target. Many once-prominent American retailers have become extinct, or, like JCPenney and Sears, are slowly getting stomped to death by Amazon’s on-demand delivery services. “We’ve never seen a period like this, where stores were in so much trouble,” says Harvard Business School historian Nancy Koehn. “Amazon has wreaked its havoc.”

Link to the rest at Boston Magazine

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9 Comments to “Amazon and Target’s Retail Rumble”

  1. Our local Target needs to do better. We last went there over a year ago. I had checked their online site to see if the particular TV we wanted was in stock. It said yes. We went. They said no. Checked in the back:no. Store was messy. And while it had a lot of stuff, the clothing was rather low quality and the selection of items limited. I didn’t find a table tray that wasn’t wobbly crap. I forget what I looked for in the edibles area while there, but they didn’t have what I looked for, either.

    So, we ended buying the TV at Best Buy (not the original model we wanted, but our second choice).

    But my irritation at the misinformation telling me it was in stock at that particular store (the TV)–causing me a wasted trip– means I do not trust the info on their site re the BM store stock. And my experience at the store (hard to find an associate to assist, messy, low quality stock) means I have not returned.

  2. Talk about trying to ‘make’ news, there is no rumble … maybe a whimper from some areas.

    Target had best pull its head out of its collective hindquarters because there’s a reason I haven’t shopped there in years. And somehow I don’t see ‘small-format stores’ with an even more limited selection as being useful to most of us.

  3. Eh. I shop at both, so does my wife. Yeah, their online inventory web pages don’t work. Don’t care. When I go to my local Target it’s hardly deserted. Nothing to see here.

  4. I had to laugh when I read:

    Practically overnight, Boston has become one of the most important national battlegrounds as Amazon and Target vie for retail supremacy.

    I lived in Boston for a couple of years and this so perfectly reflects Boston’s vision of themselves as the center of the universe.

    • Ha! Everyone knows California is the Center of the Universe.

      Even the Bostonians. And the Manhattanites. Alhough they will never admit it. 🙂

  5. Anyone wanna take bets on who wins? 🙂

    Oh, wait… too late.

  6. A Target went up in a nearby city. I’ve been there a few times. Dark, with eye-searing megawatt pinlights to cause eyestrain, too-loud screechy teengirl “music” on the PA system, and pretty much the same inventory as Wal-Mart except 25% or so more expensive. I couldn’t see the point and didn’t go back.

    Something called “Best Buy” went up not too far from there. I went in their *once*. Dark with pinlights, like Target. And hearing-damage-level metal pounding from the PA system. I’ve never been back there, either.

    Too-loud “music” on the PA system is akin to authors using their blogs to air their political views. The people who agree with your taste were coming anyway. The ones who don’t will leave and not come back.

    • @ TRX

      Gotta agree with you wholeheartedly about too-loud “music” on store PA systems. I HATE that. It might attract the Clearasil Crowd, but it drives Baby Boomers like me away.

      And, of course, the stores that cater to the CC’s (e.g., Hollister, Forever 21) I don’t even enter. No reason to. They have nothing I want to buy.

  7. Al the Great and Powerful

    “Somehow, contained in this 21,000-square-foot expanse, is everything that most people, on most days, could ever need. There’s trail mix, school binders, blazers, smartphones, basketballs, Star Wars toys, bedding, toilet paper, Beats by Dre headphones, and at least half a dozen passable button-down shirts. Given the current retail climate, it felt like a store engineered specifically to keep me from buying things on the Internet—an act of war, so to speak, against Target’s archrival, Amazon. ”

    What this moron is describing is a Department Store. A place that sells products of all sorts. In no way does that possibly equate to “… a store engineered specifically to keep me from buying things on the Internet…”

    Send the firemen home, there isn’t even smoke here, let alone fire.

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