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The Wall Street Journal reports on Target's continuing timidity when it comes to online and digital offerings, as the profit-challenged retailer scales back its ambitions even as competitors (Amazon, Walmart, Kroger, for example) "invest heavily to diversify their online offerings."

The Journal writes, "The Minneapolis-based retailer has revamped some e-commerce projects, eliminating an in-house startup and implementing new initiatives to save on shipping costs. It has also cut ties with digital partners like Curbside in favor of developing its own programs, and walked away from prospective deals, including an Arizona grocery-store chain (Sprouts) and online service Boxed.com, according to people familiar with the talks."

After outsourcing its online operations to Amazon and then ending that relationship, Target "built a new infrastructure for its website after experiencing technical problems during busy shopping times.

"Target has begun to centralize decision-making for digital projects. Earlier this year, it eliminated an in-house startup that was developing a marketplace for third-party sellers. The platform, internally called Goldfish, was to feature products from outside sellers and function separately from Target.com, according to people familiar with the project. Such marketplaces account for a substantial portion of the merchandise now sold on Amazon.com and walmart.com."

The timidity and indecision has had an impact: "Its online business generated about $3 billion last year, accounting for 4.4% of total sales. Digital sales grew 27% in 2016, falling short of Target’s goal of 40% growth."
KC's View:
Sure, Target is said to be playing with the idea of a curbside pickup program, but it just seems like it is being timid at a time when bold action and progressive thinking isn't just called for, but an absolute requirement for survival. Compare its approach to the Amazon's approach for more than 20 years, and what Walmart is doing in terms of major investment and culture change. With every day that passes, it is going to be harder to catch up. Soon, it may be impossible. (And that's probably when Edward Lampert will offer to buy Target and return it to past glory.)