The Co.Labs and Target Retail Accelerator challenged entrants to design and build an app that would extend the Target customer experience into new areas, leveraging mobile software—native or web-based—to produce new and pro-social effects in their community, family, school, or social network. Our celebrity judges have selected their finalists, who each received $10,000 seed money and a Target mentor for the next stage—competing for a $75,000 buyout grand prize. Here we're breaking down each of the finalists: The goal of their apps, the use cases, the clever twists, the potential roadblocks, and (of course) the reasons they advanced to the next round. Keep your fingers crossed for the entrants, who get judged this week; we'll announce the grand prize winner on June 27th.
There were several submissions that solved problems around shopping lists, but TargetShare took a unique tack by focusing on the problems around food shopping. Namely, that food shopping requires too much friction to digitize the process easily. First, you have to decide what you'll make; itemize the recipes for that day or week; produce a shopping list, and then (presumably) enter it into some kind of app. TargetShare removes all these steps, adding zero overhead to the food shopping process and saving a bunch of data entry in the process. Team TargetShare is comprised of Jinal Dalal, Ashutosh Pardeshi, and Vallbhi Parikh.
Instead of merely allowing you to digitize your shopping list—which can be an onerous process—TargetShare has shopping lists pre-loaded, based on popular recipes. Select a recipe and the requisite items are loaded into your shopping list. The idea here is not just to make it easier to shop, but also ensure that Target can be a comprehensive source for your recipe items, saving you from an extra trip to a different supermarket just to find one last ingredient.
Let's say you have friends coming over for dessert. You can open the TargetShare app, browse or search for recipes of interest (say, chocolate cake) and then decide whether you want to build your own shopping list in the app—say, cribbed from Epicurious—or select from one of the recipes that other users have preloaded. Then you hit up your local Target store, open the app to find which aisles contain the items you need, and you're off and running.
One of the smartest features in this app is that the items in these shopping lists are labeled with their location inside the store, making it much easier to find the things on the list. This is even more convenient than it seems at first blush, because one major obstacle to trying new recipes is sourcing the ingredients and then actually finding them in the store. TargetShare makes it zero-risk to try out new menu items with your family; who doesn't love variety?
Our judges summarized the concept of this app as "goal-based shopping," a term that reflects a thoughtful segmentation of shopping experiences. While far from comprehensive, we could think of several general categories for shopping use cases. Besides goal-based shopping—where you have a project in mind, and you're checking off items as a means to and end—the judges also discussed the "run-in, run-out" shopping scenario, where the customer is after one or two targeted items; another is the "stock up" scenario, where the customer is erring on over-buying to be sure they can meet or exceed an unknown demand later (say, buying Solo cups for a party). However you slice these shopping scenarios, there are mobile app concepts that can improve them all.
This is one app that could hit the ground running fairly easily, with the exception of one feature: The in-store location of items on the shopping lists. While a major time-saver, Target doesn't have that information accessible in their API, and different Target stores are often laid out differently to accommodate the local traffic (for example, "City Target" stores have a different floor plan than suburban Target stores, which have space to sprawl). Still, if Target could accumulate this data somehow—either by adding an endpoint to its API or by crowdsourcing the location of ingredients in individual stores—this app would be ready to roll as a full-featured food shopping time-saver. Another obstacle for this team is their dearth of mockups and wireframes; they submitted fewer visual comps than most other teams who made it this far, meaning they'll have more work to do designing views for the final app.
[Image: Flickr user Jay Reed]