Predictions for Target’s Top Holiday Categories

Kevin Lamb

November 22, 2021

Target joins the rest of the retailing world this week in the massive sale event that comprises the Black Friday and Cyber Monday weekend. Here we take a deep dive into what to expect from Target’s ecommerce offering for this year’s Turkey 5 sales.

Target sets itself apart

While this may not be unique to the holiday season, brands and customers will quickly notice something about Target.com as they browse the catalog that is distinct from the nation’s other ecommerce giants, Walmart.com, eBay, and Amazon. While their competitors tout titles like “The Everything Store,” “Low Price Leader,” and “Every Day Low Prices,” Target is not that.

A curated catalog

Target has a curated catalog of both brands and sellers. There are less than 300 sellers currently allowed to sell on Target.com. Target also does not have a buy box. This means that when you order a product, there is only a single, trustworthy seller designated to get you that product on time. If that seller does not meet shipping and listing standards of quality, that seller can and will be removed from the platform.

Target has sought to create a catalog of brands and products that they think represent the best products in their categories. When a category gets too saturated, they don’t add more products of that type. For example, if you look for true wireless headphones on Amazon, you will get roughly 10,000 brands (that might be hyperbole, but also might not be far from the truth). On Target, you will find around 10 brands to choose from. Target’s goal is to reduce the assortment for you beforehand and offer you what they feel are the best products for their customers.

Premium products

You will find low prices on Target, just like you will at Walmart. But you will also find luxury items, like this $153 hair brush and products from premium brands like Luxottica. While Target addresses a broad customer segment and does offer great products like this $17 Norelco trimmer, you can also go all out and buy this $148 trimmer from BaByliss. Target offers a range to allow shoppers to choose what budget and what quality they prefer.

Logistics constraints

Given the massive growth of ecommerce recently, it’s no surprise that all online retailers are struggling to keep up from a logistics standpoint. One area where Target is not unique is that they are spreading out deals in an effort to get shoppers to buy early and space out sales that used to be confined to a single weekend. The hope is that this will relieve some of the strain on fulfilling the huge amount of orders that come in from a single day shopping bonanza.

Target Holiday Deals,Early deals should help relieve the strain on sellers who rely on popular shipping carriers to fulfill orders

Early Deals on Target should help relieve the strain on sellers who rely on UPS, Fedex, and USPS to fulfill orders

Top Categories

A survey of Target’s deals shows a huge emphasis on Electronics and Electronics appliances this year. As of 11/19, the top 8 of the first 10 promotions on their homepage fall into that category. This is part of Target’s own push to establish themselves as a premium electronics retailer with brands like Beats, Samsung, and the Instant Pot (which is frequently a Black Friday top seller on just about every marketplace). Their strategy is working—Target’s hard lines grew 32% in 2020, while apparel, one of Target’s stronger categories, had very little growth year on year.

We anticipate Target's strongest category this year will be in home furnishings and decor, specifically because of the strategies we outlined above. Compared to Amazon, Walmart, and Wayfair, Target provides a curated selection of beautiful home decor that has grown leaps and bounds over the years. Consumers seeking a simple and trustworthy home goods experience will flock to Target. It also helps that Chip and Joanna Gaines have basically given Target their stamp of approval, and exclusive rights to their brand, Hearth and Hand.

Hearth & Hand at Target

Target in summary

Target has grown its ecommerce arm quite a bit over the last two years and has become a formidable contender for market share, moving up to 6th place in the U.S., just behind Best Buy, and surpassing Home Depot, Kroger, Costco, and Wayfair. We see first hand the efforts of category managers at Target to seek out the best brands and ways to improve the ecommerce platform for sellers. Target is on the move and Amazon, Walmart, and Ebay will need to be agile or risk losing their slice of the ecommerce pie.

Want to learn more about selling with Target or accelerating your growth on marketplaces? Let’s get talking.

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Aug 4, 2022

How Disjointed Sellers Take Away Brand Control on Ecommerce Marketplaces

A top issue we see with brands struggling on ecommerce marketplaces is a loss of brand control due to disjointed sellers—those that aren't following your brand policies and guidelines when selling your products online. Disjointed sellers can be gray market, unauthorized, and rogue sellers, as well as 3P and other sellers that are noncompliant with your branding, pricing, and other forms of representation online.

It can be very easy for brands to lose control of their ecommerce strategy when they can’t get a handle on disjointed sellers. Typically, these brands are either stuck in a game of whack-a-mole or just ignoring the warning signs of bigger issues and hoping for the best. But, when disjointed selling isn't handled right, the consequences can be devastating to profitability. A loss of brand control doesn’t happen overnight, and the factors that contribute to it are long-standing. 

Erode Consumer Trust

Before the advent of ecommerce, brands favored a wide distribution. It was the easiest way to get products to as many distributors as possible. But wide distribution, when left unchecked, leads to leaky distribution—allowing your excess products to end up in the hands of unwanted sellers.

So brands that continue to operate with a wide distribution strategy are losing brand control and are damaging their brand equity and product performance. Why? You’re unable to monitor your products’ pricing, performance, or quality. You can’t dictate how you’re represented by each seller, creating an inconsistent and false representation of your brand to your new and existing consumers. These issues often lead to poor reviews and erode opportunities to build trust with future customers.

Wear Away Brand Equity

In today’s ecommerce landscape, marketplaces and digital platforms connect people and sellers to make online shopping simple and seamless. They also provide customers complete price transparency. Google, for instance, allows consumers to access any of your products on virtually every ecommerce channel and retail location and posts them side-by-side for you to comparison shop.

Now, everyone from your D2C distributors to large marketplace sellers, legitimate 3P sellers, and rogue and unauthorized sellers are on a level playing field—they’re all presented to the searching consumer, and that consumer has the purchase power.

Disjointed sellers have just as much power and authority to represent your brand as you do, without the same quality, pricing strategy, and customer focus as you.

Cause Competition and Price Matching Issues 

In most shopping scenarios, consumers will choose to purchase a product from whichever seller offers the lowest price. Marketplaces like Amazon and Walmart know this, and optimize their product selection based on all retail offers to serve consumers the lowest price for the same item.

This means that as one seller drops the price of your product, the next will follow, and then the next, etc. Everyone gains access to the product at or below MSRP. This opens the door for unauthorized sellers to purchase inventory during promotions or at discounted prices and then turn around and sell the same product slightly below competing sellers’ prices—for profit.  

As customers search for your product, they notice the cheaper price and purchase from the unauthorized seller, rather than paying the price you’ve established with your retail teams. Simultaneously, as Amazon monitors their product listing against other available channels, they notice they don’t have the lowest price. So Amazon, and other marketplaces, in service of the consumer, drop their price to match the lower price offered by an unauthorized seller. To stay competitive, your other channels follow suit. The cycle, also know as the profitability death spiral, continues to drive down the price of your product, grinding away your margins and profitability.

This doesn’t sound like much of a problem if your brand isn’t actively selling on ecommerce marketplaces, right? Unfortunately, it causes big issues for your brick-and-mortar sales, too. Large retail chains like Best Buy and Macy’s noticed this potential loss of sales from ecommerce and needed to defend and protect their profit. Retailers started telling brands that, in order to keep their products in-store (which accounts for 80% of most brands’ sales) they would need to lower their prices to match online prices. Which led to the concept of price matching. If a customer could prove the price of a product was lower somewhere else, Best Buy would match the lower price and charge the brand for the difference.

As other brick-and-mortar retailers jumped on the trend, brands started to see large losses in their margins.

Gain Ecommerce Control with Pattern

The danger that disjointed sellers pose to brands is enormous—without a way to control all of a brand’s distribution points on ecommerce, your brand spins farther and farther down the profitability death spiral. Using custom technology and data-driven insights, Pattern can identify disjointed and unauthorized sellers for your brand and develop a custom strategy tailored to your specific needs to address these big issues as soon as possible. Then, Pattern partners with the econtrol law firm, VORYs, to enforce take downs and save brands who find themselves caught on any stage of the death spiral.

With the right resources and expert help, we’ve helped hundreds of brands to regain their footing and control on ecommerce, win the buy box, and grow their sales. 

Contact us today to regain your brand control.

Aug 4, 2022

Ecommerce Innovators Podcast - Achieving Growth Through Technology

Join us for Ecommerce Innovators, a podcast that brings together the brightest minds in the industry to explore innovative strategies and trends in global ecommerce. We'll analyze what top brands are doing to accelerate their online success and you’ll hear from top executives who are changing the game for their organizations. Our host is John LeBaron, Chief Revenue Officer at Pattern—the premier partner for global ecommerce acceleration.

Listen on Spotify

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In our conversation with John Wessel, CTO and SVP of Product & Digital at Fresh Water Systems, he talks about digital transformation, innovation, and growth. Hear about the many hats John’s wears, how the company has transformed since the 90s to stay cutting edge, the pharmacy part of the business, aligning and prioritizing multiple channels, and competing with Amazon.

Ecommerce Innovators Episode Synopsis

As we interviewed John Wessel, here are some things we learned:

Content leads to search ranking. For Fresh Water Systems’ ecommerce site, around 70% of their traffic is to the blog. The secret for content is “well-researched, well-written, long form content that is informative”. John explained that they have an SEO team who writes 5000+ word posts that are researched and documented. People read these blogs and comment, which drives more traffic to the blogs.

Ecommerce is changing the shopping game. John shared an interesting story about a plumber who orders parts every Friday night online, from wherever he can get the best price. He doesn’t have relationships with one supplier or an auto-renew subscription for his parts. Instead, he finds the best price just for the parts he needs every week. John thinks the trend of price shopping will continue, especially as ecommerce grows.

Invest in customer engagement, but don’t invest a lot of time into emails. How many advertising emails do you actually read? Companies often spend a lot of time doing A/B tests and crafting the “perfect” email. However, John pointed out that almost no one reads emails anymore. Instead, invest your time into different brand touchpoints you will have with your customer. You can still send emails, but make sure you dedicate less time to the process.

Listen to the full episode for free on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.

Aug 3, 2022

How Pattern Took Sylvania Beyond Amazon to Achieve Double Digit Growth

As the leading automotive supplier and long-time brick-and-mortar brand of high performance lighting products, Sylvania was facing challenges to increase profitability on ecommerce.  Exclusively available on Amazon and direct to consumer, Sylvania built a strong seller network, with huge market share, but was having issues with compliance and optimizing ecommerce.

As the top ecommerce accelerator, partnering with Pattern provides the expertise and deep marketplace knowledge to identify additional marketplace opportunities for brands, and the strategic teams to effectively launch on global marketplaces. Partnering with Pattern was critical for Sylvania to grow its profitability on and beyond Amazon.  

Pattern Develops and Launches a Custom Marketplace Playbook

By effectively evaluating the opportunity for new customer growth, increasing profitability, and outperforming competitors, Pattern’s marketplace experts and brand managers went above and beyond to help Sylvania diversify its ecommerce portfolio.  

In addition to creating an eBay storefront, Sylvania expanded its products to Target+ and Walmart.com. In some instances, like on Walmart, Sylvania was already available on the marketplace but changed its strategy from a 1P seller model, which has its own challenges and roadblocks, to a 3P partner seller model–naming Pattern as its partner.

Whether it was launching on new marketplaces or shifting its seller strategy to achieve greater marketplace success, Sylvania benefited from Pattern’s relationships with and deep understanding of how to succeed on marketplaces.  

In addition, as an ecommerce accelerator, Pattern invests in Sylvania’s product and manages the brand’s entire ecommerce journey on each marketplace. This partnership takes the stress and fear out of launching somewhere new so the brand does not need to understand the nuances, best practices, and details of each individual marketplace.

Sylvania Sales Jump Almost 100%

Not only did Pattern help Sylvania with their simple goal to increase its availability on marketplaces beyond Amazon, the ecommerce accelerator helped the automotive supplier achieve: 

Exponential Sales Growth:

  • 97% sales revenue growth YoY from November 2018 to November 2019

  • 151% unit sales growth YoY from November 2018 to November 2019

Flawless Marketplace Growth:

  • Sylvania has expanded to Amazon, eBay, Target+ and Walmart, all with Pattern’s strategic marketplace expertise and knowledge

  • Target+ is difficult to get approved to sell on, but Pattern’s marketplaces team and its resources was the necessary advantage to get Sylvania listed

    • Pattern managed the administrative and compliance logistics to get products approved, listed, and optimized to match other marketplaces

    • Pattern is also working with Target to redefine categories so they better match Sylvania’s products 

  • Pattern’s customer service team helped Sylvania’s eBay business achieve 100% positive customer feedback

Pattern has the resources necessary for a brand to take control on existing and launch on new marketplaces.

"Pattern is truly an extension of our brand. They know what they are doing when it comes to everything needed for a brand to succeed on marketplaces.”

- Chris Mitchell, Sylvania OmniChannel Analytics Manager

Contact us today to build your game plan for and take control of your marketplace strategy.