Find a Beauty Expert at Your Local Target!

Generic beauty-products2Target is one of our go-to stores when we are in need of practically anything you can think of-a hair brush, a summer dress, groceries, a plasma tv, makeup, face cleansers and much more. Recently, an article in the Chicago Tribune reported that Target would soon be expanding its “beauty concierge” within the Chicago area. The company’s goal is to expand this program from 28 to 44 stores. The uniqueness of this program is that associates are dressed in black aprons equipped with iPads, as well as mirrors and product samples to provide shoppers with guidance and expertise when they are browsing through the aisles of the beauty section looking for beauty products. According to this article, Chicago was selected as the test market for this program due to its shopping population. Specific locations Target is hoping to expand this program include Cicero, Vernon Hills and West Schaumburg while shutting the program in other locations such as Palatine, Bedford Park, Joliet, Villa Park, Oswego, Plainfield, North Aurora and Romeoville. Further, Target is also expected to expand its program into three additional markets: Los Angeles/Orange County, Minneapolis and Washington, D.C

The implementation of Target’s Beauty Concierge program is part of a trend in the beauty industry in which department stores and specialty retailers are helping and giving customers the opportunity to try their products before buying them. Since the skin care market grew 10 percent in 2012, Target is anticipating this program to boost sales. This new personalized beauty service is allowing Target not only to compete with stores such as Walgreens, who offers most of these products, but also to beauty retailers such as Sephora and Ulta Beauty. Hana Ben-Shabat, a partner at a global management consulting group commented on Target’s strategy by saying that at the end of the day fashion is a product and department stores are competing with beauty retailers and vice versa.

Operation managers at Target are certainly trying to keep up with the industry by coming up with these unique strategies. I think that the implementation of this new service can be a great success in very populated Target stores across the city, for example in downtown Chicago.  As this program matures, I think Target will gain a competitive advantage over other popular department stores such as Wal-Mart, Walgreens and CVS. The success of this program will largely be dependent on the type of associates that are being hired and the level of training they receive. Customers nowadays are always looking for advice when they are shopping for products, especially make up because not everyone is a beauty expert. Having someone to help you choose which specific foundation matches your skin, which mascara would help your lashes stand out, or which lipstick would look nice with an outfit, is certainly a service customers will appreciate. In my perspective, operation managers should place great emphasis on the increase of sales from beauty products to ensure that this project is being managed efficiently and can perhaps be used as a basis to provide a reasonable forecast to other Target stores across the nation.

What is your opinion? Do you think this program would attract more customers?,0,7813736.story

Don’t Have Enough Cash For a Washing Machine? SEARS Can Help!

Many people nowadays don’t have enough cash on hand to make large purchases such as a washing machine or a refrigerator. For example, a newly married couple may find it difficult to purchase all the items they need for their new home all at once. Although most people would turn to credit cards to make such purchases, others are a bit intimated to do so. As a result, Sears Holding Corp. has recently launched a “lease-to-own” service, which will allow customers to purchase these items without credit. What this means is that instead of using a credit card as it is most commonly seen, people will be able to pay for the items they purchase over time whether it be electronics, furniture and/or mattresses. How is Sears doing this? The company partnered with WhyNotLeaseIt, a New Hampshire-based leasing service that allows customers to make monthly or bimonthly payments until the item they purchased is completely paid off.

This new service Sears is rolling out will be available by the end of May and will be an alternative to its current layaway service, which does not allow customers to take their items home until they are fully paid off. By using this service people will not have to wait and hope they qualify for a Sears credit card or wait weeks until they finish paying it off using the layaway service.

Sears is hoping that the introduction of this new service will help them boost their customer base after years of sluggish sales.

At the top of the list of the ten operations management decisions is the “design of goods and services”. The introduction of this new leasing service certainly falls under this category. However, the success from this service will also be dependent on other strategies that operations managers will have to think about. For example, should they consider a different layout strategy to make the items they offer more attractive? Perhaps placing signs throughout the store will make this leasing service more attractive to customers. Further, it is important to note that these big-ticket items also require constant maintenance, hence operations managers need to maintain inventory in the best condition to prevent any loss in value or have them end up on the “clearance” section. Managing quality also comes into play with the introduction of the leasing service. Operations managers need to decide whether they will be leasing the items they currently carry or will introduce new items that are better quality but more pricy because customers may decide that it is worth it to get an item of better quality since they wont have to worry about the cost right away.

Do you think the introduction of this new service will give Sears some competitive advantage?  What other OM decisions will Sears have to take as a result of the implementation of this program?

Continue reading “Don’t Have Enough Cash For a Washing Machine? SEARS Can Help!”