Target Snaps Up Mobile Shopping Innovation with Image Recognition App


Whoever tries to hack into Target’s data next is going to have a lot more to dig through. The retailer’s new app, In a Snap, aims at improving its foothold in the mobile shopping space by allowing users to take pictures of Target products in print (magazines, catalogs and newspapers) and then simply click to buy.

The free app, which uses advanced image recognition technology, allows consumers to have their product shipped or held for them at a local store—all part of Target’s big push to ramp up e-commerce and click-and-collect efforts as it continues to feel the pressure from Amazon, Walmart, and fast-fashion retailers. In a Snap joins Target’s other app, Cartwheel, which serves as a coupon-serving shopping companion. 

“It’s a single-purpose app that will appeal to Millennials and college students or anyone not averse to downloading an app,” Target spokesman Eddie Baeb told the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

The app’s launch is timed to Target advertising running in Real Simple and Domino magazines, part of the brand’s back to school campaign for college-aged consumers with a new registry and web video series, Best Year Ever, that features YouTube stars helping students with dorm room makeovers.[more]

Target’s new image-recognition app comes just as Amazon is debuting its Firefly feature, which was announced last month when Jeff Bezos revealed the Amazon Fire Phone.

Firefly claims to recognize 100 million items with a direct link to purchase them—an evolved iteration of its current “Flow” feature on its iPhone and iPad app. Amazon also released its Dash grocery-purchasing device earlier this year, which is also likely to eat into Target’s grocery business. 

Still, simply launching an app doesn’t give a brand (or its customers) instant e-commerce or m-commerce savvy, especially when there are plenty of other branded apps that are doing similar things, including IKEA and Lowe’s, as shoppers seek a compelling reason to try out and adopt a new behavior. “They need buzz that makes customers want to snap these products in the first place,” Leon Nicholas, SVP at Kantar Retail, told the Star Tribune

But the same goes for Amazon: “It’s easy for technology to wow us, but it only matters as much as it is useful to the consumer,” ComScore VP of marketing and insight Andrew Lipsman told the AP. “There are plenty of examples of really cool technology, but if it doesn’t become engrained in regular behavior, it is not going to represent a seachange in e-commerce.”

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