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The Washington Post reports that Target, hoping to reduce the risk of contracting Covid-19 in its stores during a crowded holiday season, will use a new reservation system for customers.

According to the story, "During the holidays, shoppers can visit to see if there is a line outside their local store and reserve a spot. They’ll be notified when it’s their turn to shop."

The Post writes that "retailers have adopted a range of protocols to minimize crowds, long lines and repeat shopping trips during the pandemic. Most large retailers offer curbside pickup and contactless checkout to accommodate social distancing, and many have scrapped such Black Friday traditions as Thanksgiving Day openings and 'doorbuster' deals to fill their stores. But shopping by appointment is uncommon among retailers."

CEO Brian Cornell said yesterday that he anticipated that the reservation system will likely only be used during the holidays, but that other pandemic-induced measures, such as "contact-free shopping, are here to stay."

KC's View:

I would think this last statement is true, unless, of course, Target finds that the reservation system to be a positive contributor to its bottom line.

If I made a reservation at Target and waited for my turn to enter, it seems to me that I might be more inclined to do more of my holiday shopping there - after all, I've already made a commitment to and investment in the Target store experience.  That might translate to non-holiday periods.

I wonder if this is something that could be adapted by other retailers.  For example, retailers that are concerned about being overwhelmed by holiday crowds could actually set aside early morning or late night hours as reservations-only periods, and maybe even could make those times available only to best customers (as defined by their loyalty marketing system).

This is one of those areas in which using data smartly could make a real difference - not just engendering loyalty, but showing loyalty to best customers.