This week Target announced the pilot launch of the parent-centric service Diaper Duty. And while the name might suggest that a Target representative will come to help take care of baby's smelly surprise, it's actually a subscription service that the retailer said lightens a different load — the daily stress of new parenting.
Diaper Duty will of course sell diapers in bulk, but also other baby-care items including formula, wipes and training pants. Parents can choose from 150 eligible subscription items and choose to have those products delivered to their doorstep in four- to- 12-week installments.
The latest move from the Minneapolis-based retailer comes after a string of anti-showrooming and anti-Amazon tactical offerings, like recently announcing that its price-matching policy — which includes matching the online prices offered by Amazon — would be permanent.
Amazon has pioneered the "subscribe and save" model, with its own version of Diaper Duty called Amazon Mom. According to Chris Petersen, president of Integrated Marketing Solutions, Target and other big-box retailers are late to the subscription game.
"The whole subscription model is an enormous opportunity that has been a game changer," Peterson said. "It generates standing orders for regular sales as well as traffic to the website to update profiles and adjust both items and quantities. Signing up a young mother for regular delivery of needed items generates a whole lot more loyalty than spot purchases based on price."
Peterson's sentiments reflect Target's ultimate goal for the service — to build a bigger base of loyal customers and drive them in-store to make more purchases.
"[T]hink of all the extra space you'll have in that red shopping cart... for clothes, home décor – and, oh yeah, the baby," a Target blog post announcing the new service states.
According to Doug Stephens, retail analyst and author of the book The Retail Revival, getting into the home once (if not more) per week is a huge advantage for any retailer.
"Once you're scheduled to deliver the things the baby needs, cross-selling that consumer into other products to add to their delivery becomes much easier," Stephens said. "The more trusted you can become, the more likely the consumer will be to stick with you across all channels — including stores. And trust, very often is largely a matter of frequency and familiarity."
Target's choice to go after families (moms in particular) is also part of a larger strategic move. Moms control the majority of family spending, and they represent Target's core demographic.
"Catching this demographic is extremely important for a couple reasons," said Micah Solomon, customer service speaker and consultant. "One of the best ways to build customer loyalty is to become a backdrop for their relationship with each other. And parents' relationship with their children is one of the most important. Since Target sells so much that will be relevant as the child (and family) age, this is the time to enmesh themselves in the family's life."
However, the verdict is still out as to whether Target's Diaper Duty will generate any loyalty that carries over to building store traffic, Peterson said, adding that Target will need to be far more nimble in making the experience seamless to achieve a sales boost — that is if the name Diaper Duty doesn't stand in its way.
"Target's name is far more limited and less compelling than 'Amazon Mom,' which can apply to any time-starved mother looking to subscribe for deliveries of regularly needed household items," he said.
Solomon shared an equal disdain for the Diaper Duty moniker.
"Sounds like a cloth diaper service mixed with a potty-mouthed pun."