Still Playing Catch-Up Online, Target Tests Next-Day Deliveries For Pantry, Household Items

Image courtesy of Mike Mozart

After years of not doing much as online competitors like Amazon and Walmart.com made it easier to buy things like paper towels, detergent, and condiments without leaving your house, Target is finally testing a program that will give some of its customers the ability to get one-day shipping on household items.

The pilot program is called Target Restock, and it’s currently being tested by Target employees. The retailer plans to expand that test to its home market of Minneapolis this summer.

So what is Target Restock?

According to the company, when it launches, folks in the test area who have a Target REDcard will be able to visit a dedicated website where they’ll be able to select from an array of household goods — basically the things in your kitchen, bathroom, and laundry room that don’t need refrigeration — pack them into virtual boxes and have them delivered the next day for a flat, yet-to-be-disclosed fee.

That sounds an awful lot like Amazon Prime Pantry, which was launched three years ago, with one big difference: Prime Pantry does not promise next-day delivery. For example, a Pantry order placed today (Monday) won’t arrive until Thursday; next-day delivery is possible, but at an increased charge. Target will be able to do that for Restock users because it’s not shipping these products from a centralized warehouse, but from a Target store in the same market as the customer.

Amazon may not have its own supermarkets yet, but it’s exploring various options for physical retail stores because it realizes that these local outlets may be key to keeping costs low for more perishable items. The online giant is also testing a version of its AmazonFresh service where customers come pick up their grocery orders at a location that looks like an Amazon-branded gas station.

Walmart has been working on a few different ways to combine online ordering with its vast network of bricks-and-mortar stores. A program that lets customers order groceries on Walmart.com and then pick them up at the store is now in a handful of markets around the country. The retailer also recently began offering discounts for online orders that were picked up in the store.