US retail group the Target Corporation is looking to stimulate engagement and generosity among its customers, offering them mobile apps that enrich the shopping experience, whether in-store or online.

Open Innovation: Target Seeks to Connect Customers with Communities in their Hour of Need

What does the future of retail at a bricks-and-mortar store look like? Probably a sales space able to unite  customers around rich mobile shopping experiences. And what better tools for creating a community of people than open innovation and crowdfunding? This is exactly what the TargetCares app is offering. TargetCares was a finalist in the recent Co.Labs & Target Retail Accelerator challenge launched by US-based retail group Target Corporation in collaboration with the magazine Fast Company.  The basic aim of the TargetCares app is to transform the customers of the Target Corporation into shopper-philanthropists, by using gamification to unite the community of shoppers and encourage and enable them to make donations to communities affected by disasters or to individuals in need.

Linking customers and community when need arises

For example if a school is struck by some natural disaster, the administrators and teachers can use the app to draw up a list of items they need to rebuild or simply to continue running the school. The lists are then published via the app and other users can purchase the articles needed at Target stores, at the same time ensuring that donations are not duplicated. Donors will be awarded badges attesting to their philanthropic gestures, which in turn will make them eligible to receive special coupons. They can also post their badges on Facebook in order to raise awareness among their friends.

Crowdfunding local arts projects

The Target challenge judges seem to have been particularly drawn to crowdfunding projects. The purpose of the challenge was to come up with mobile apps that enrich a customer’s shopping experience in a useful, instructive and/or entertaining way. In the same vein as TargetCares, the Matisse app, also a challenge finalist, invites teachers to list upcoming school arts projects and events for which materials are needed.  The teachers can then highlight their projects via social media in order to find backers who will buy the necessary materials via the app as a way of supporting the project in question. Once the project has the funding it needs, the Target distribution centre will ship the goods to the teachers. Last but not least, teachers can post photos of student projects online to encourage their colleagues to replicate and emulate the projects.


By Ruolin Yang