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这家零售商曾经沦为行业笑柄,如今又有了挑战沃尔玛的底气

王波非(Phil Wahba) 2019年08月26日

2017年,这家举步维艰的超级连锁店让投资者备感担心。如今,更加有魅力的卖场和更加顺畅的电商体验让塔吉特重新有了吸引力。

打包和邮寄:在明尼苏达州伯恩斯维尔的塔吉特门店中有待配送的订单。让各大店面接受在线订单的举措有助于公司从电子商务业务中赚取更多的利润。图片来源:Photograph by Simone Lueck for Fortune

房间比步入式衣帽间没有大多少。这对于塔吉特的首席执行官布莱恩·康奈尔以及一群共享这一空间的高管和幕僚来说十分拥挤。粗狂的空气循环让房间显得更为憋闷。室内的有线电视网没有信号,因此屋里的人无法在电视上看到华尔街的那些话痨们对于塔吉特股价歇斯底里的焦虑。

这个房间位于曼哈顿的帕克大道,前身是教堂的一个“温室”,后来改为了一个活动室,但这个不怎么舒适的空间并不适合用于这个令人不安的时刻。当时是2017年2月28日,高管们正等着在塔吉特的年度投资者会议上讲话。一个小时前,塔吉特按下了新闻发布的“发送”键,宣布了这家举步维艰的巨型零售商孤注一掷的重振计划。

在新闻稿中,塔吉特向世人宣布,公司将通过牺牲短期利润来获取比沃尔玛和亚马逊更有竞争力的价格。公司还将撤销和替换一些最知名的品牌,对其电商业务进行彻底改造,为32万庞大的员工群加薪,而且,最令那些小心翼翼的投资者感到不安的是,公司将对上千家店面进行大范围的翻修。总成本:三年内70亿美元。

康奈尔和他的团队坚信,他们实施的这个计划是正确的,能够逆转其严重的销售额滑坡。然而,当其公关团队成员最终支好iPad观看CNBC时,很明显,支持这一计划的人寥寥无几。一位困惑的新闻播报员认为,该新闻稿一定是写错了:实体零售商会在亚马逊引领的电子商务时代耗费数十亿美元来装修店面?股价在盘前交易时就出现了下跌:股价在当天开盘后继续下探了14%,因为投资者认为这个计划会影响塔吉特数年内的利润。

当塔吉特的高管团队最终离开这个拥挤的温室,与其投资者面对面接触时,场面可谓是令人百感交集。康奈尔回忆道:“那天早上我完成自己的任务之后,最后一个问题是:‘布莱恩,你觉得你在这个位置上还能够待多长时间?’”

投资者有着众多质疑的原因。塔吉特的业绩已经在滑坡,可比销售额连续4个季度出现下滑。而对于康奈尔在2014年就任时誓要启动的电子商务,其增速还不到他所承诺的一半。一些以价格取胜的自有品牌虽然为这家连锁店赢得了好评,但这些品牌已经过于陈旧,难以吸引新的客户。分析师们开始担心,这家连锁店就像传统的百货店那样,正在逐渐与市场脱节。在2016年惨淡的假日季,塔吉特的销售额出现下滑,而沃尔玛则一路飙升,也让世人对塔吉特的衰败感到扼腕不已。

在康奈尔团队看来,这些问题起源于同一个病根:塔吉特店面本身更适合于公司1962年创建之时而不是21世纪的零售业态。由于年久失修,很多店面看起来都已经破旧不堪,很少有店面配备支持电子商务的基础设施。(我们也并不是没有看到过,来店面拿在线订购货物的客户在收银台打发时间,而店面雇员则在货架上四处搜罗客户订购的物品。)假日季的溃败成为了最后一根稻草,也让高管们觉得是时候对店面进行大刀阔斧地整修。康奈尔说,不管塔吉特有多么想恢复增长,“在打造这些能力之前,电商这条路是行不通的。”

The room was no bigger than a walk-in closet, a tight fit for Target CEO Brian Cornell and the team of executives and support staff who were sharing it. Sketchy air circulation made the room feel even more claustrophobic. And its cable-TV feed didn’t work—which meant the gang couldn’t tune in to see just how badly Wall Street talking heads were freaking out about Target’s stock.

The chamber, a “greenroom” at a former church turned event space on Manhattan’s Park Avenue, was an uncomfortable place to share an uncomfortable moment. It was Feb. 28, 2017; the executives were waiting to address Target’s annual investor meeting. About an hour earlier, Target had pressed the “Send” button on a news release announcing a make-or-break revival plan for the massive but struggling big-box retailer.

In the release, Target told the world it would sacrifice short-term profitability to make its prices more competitive with those of Walmart and Amazon. It would junk and replace some of its best-known brands. It would overhaul its e-commerce and raise wages for a large cohort of its 320,000 employees. And—most unnerving of all to cautious investors—it would undertake hundreds of extensive store renovations. Total price tag: $7 billion over three years.

Cornell and his leadership team were convinced that they had the right plan to reverse Target’s severe sales skid. But when their PR crew finally rigged up an iPad to stream CNBC, it became clear that few others agreed. A bemused anchor surmised that there must be a typo in the press release: What brick-and-mortar retailer would spend billions on stores in the Amazon era? Shares were down in premarket: They would go on to fall 14% that day, as investors concluded that Target’s profits would take a hit for years.

And when the Target crew finally escaped the stuffy greenroom and faced their investors in person, the reception didn’t get any more sympathetic. “I finish out that morning,” Cornell recalls, “and the final question is, ‘Brian, how long do you think you’ll be in this job?’ ”

Investors had plenty of reason to be skeptical. Target was already reeling, suffering four straight quarters of comparable-sales declines. E-commerce, which Cornell had vowed to jump-start when he became CEO in 2014, was growing at barely half the pace he had promised. Some of the hip-on-a-budget store brands that had earned the chain the mock-highbrow “Tarzhay” moniker had grown too stale to lure new shoppers. Analysts had begun to fear that the chain was slipping into irrelevance, as traditional department stores had done. And a dismal 2016 holiday season, in which Target’s sales declined while Walmart’s soared, put an exclamation point on Target’s woes.

The way Cornell’s team saw it, these problems shared a common root: Target stores themselves had been better suited to retail in 1962, when the chain was founded, than they were in the 21st century. Many looked shabby after years of insufficient upkeep; few had the infrastructure to support e-commerce well. (It wasn’t unheard-of for customers picking up online orders to find themselves killing time at cash registers while employees ran around the store collecting their items off shelves.) The holiday debacle was the final straw, convincing the C-suite that it was time to bring out the heavy artillery and fix its stores. No matter how badly Target needed to grow again, Cornell says, “we couldn’t go down that path until we built some of those capabilities.”

处于尴尬局面的首席执行官:布莱恩·康奈尔,拍摄于明尼那波利斯一家塔吉特商店的家居部。他在2017年宣布的店面重新装修计划引发了股东的强烈质疑。图片来源:Photograph by Simone Lueck for Fortune

店面的改善对于零售商的重振来说至关重要,这一理念听起来是一个很简单的常识。但塔吉特股东在2月那天的惊慌心里说明,眼下盛行的投资者强烈意愿恰恰与高管的想法背道而驰。像梅西和彭尼这样的百货店以及像Gap和Bed Bath & Beyond这样的专业连锁店共计已经关闭了数百家店面,为的是通过线上业务的增长来弥补实体销售额的下滑。此举受到了其股东的支持,因为电子商务成本通常对利润没有多大的影响。

作为对比,塔吉特看到了加大投资以回归零售初衷的潜力,即专注于店面和商品。到2020年年底,塔吉特的1800家店面中将有1000家店面完成翻修。公司在几十个高端城市周边还设立了规模稍小的全新店面。购物者可见的明显变化包括更加靓丽的服装展示(想象一下用“运动范”的模特来取代货架上一堆堆的衣物),光线更好、更整洁的结账区域。同样重要的是,店面后台设有支持电子商务的空间,有助于塔吉特通过数字销售赚取更多的利润。

结果如何?在公司实施了令股东担惊害怕的投资方案两年半之后,塔吉特的业绩出现了可圈可点的改观。公司迎来了连续8个季度的可比销售增长,其第一季度总销售额达到了174亿美元,较2017年同期增长8.7%。按零售行业标准来说,这个增速可谓是十分显著,公司的“可比”增速超过了包括梅西、科尔士百货和沃尔玛在内的大多数竞争对手。尽管运营利润率在初期略有减少,未达到70亿美元的计划目标,但总营收仍然十分稳健,而且最近开始再次增长。

对塔吉特未来同样重要的是:其产品再次受到了人们的追捧。塔吉特自2016年推出的两个品牌已经斩获了超过10亿美元的年销售额,而且公司已经在泳装、玩具和男性服装领域赢得了巨大的市场份额。穆迪的一位分析师查理·欧西称,这一切态势显示,塔吉特已经恢复了其长时间缺席的发展活力,“康奈尔和他的团队所做的就是重现Tarzhay的辉煌。”

The idea that store improvements would be crucial to a retailer’s revival may sound like simple common sense. But the alarmed reaction from Target shareholders on that February day indicated just how strongly the prevailing winds had been blowing the opposite way. Department stores like Macy’s and J.C. Penney and specialty chains like Gap and Bed Bath & Beyond have collectively closed hundreds of stores, seeking growth online to make up for declining brick-and-mortar traffic—moves their shareholders have backed because e-commerce expenses are typically less of a drain on profit.

Target, in contrast, saw the potential in doubling down on what makes a retailer a retailer: stores and merchandise. By the end of 2020, Target will have remodeled 1,000 of its 1,800 stores; it’s also rolling out smaller, brand-new locations in dozens of higher-end city neighborhoods. Changes visible to shoppers include fancier presentation of apparel (think mannequins sporting “looks,” instead of stacks of shirts on shelves) and better-lit, sleeker checkout areas. Just as important, behind the scenes, is the retooling of backroom space to facilitate e-commerce—which helps Target earn more on its digital sales.

The outcome? Two and a half years after its big bet spooked shareholders, Target is posting ticker-tape-parade-worthy results. The company has notched eight straight quarters of comparable sales increases. Target’s total first-quarter sales hit $17.4 billion, 8.7% higher than the same quarter in 2017. That’s phenomenal growth by retail standards, and the “comp” growth rate has outpaced that of most of Target’s rivals, including Macy’s, Kohl’s, and Walmart. And while operating profit margins initially shrank slightly under the $7 billion plan, total earnings remained steady and recently began to tick up again.

Just as important to Target’s future: Its products are buzz worthy once more. Two of the brands Target has launched since 2016 already reap $1 billion or more in annual sales, and it has won substantial market share in areas like swimwear, toys, and men’s clothing. All the momentum suggests that Target has recovered its long-absent swagger, says Charlie O’Shea, an analyst at Moody’s: “What Cornell and this team have done is to bring it back to Tarzhay.”

****

当然,塔吉特高管深知自己并不能高兴得太早。2015年9月,在康奈尔担任公司首席执行官刚刚超过一年之时,他在明尼那波利斯的塔吉特中心举行的全公司员工大会上,受到了员工们的长时间起立鼓掌致敬。他的脸上挂着满意的微笑,上方是一个超大电视屏幕,显示的图表中画着上个年度塔吉特股价的上升以及沃尔玛股价的下跌。

康奈尔此前曾经在百事集团供职多年,是塔吉特首位非公司内部产生的首席执行官,而且是临危受命,其中包括大规模的数据泄露以及加拿大扩张的惨败。借助多项引人注目的举措,他在上任初期着实火了一把。康奈尔将塔吉特年营收40亿美元的药品业务销售给了CVS Health。公司推出了“创新实验室”,旨在加速塔吉特的科技更新换代。新Cat & Jack儿童服装线品牌在年轻母亲中大受欢迎,很快成长为一项20亿美元的业务。

但这些成功掩盖了一些更深层次的结构性问题。塔吉特在零售行业价格战中不敌沃尔玛和其他竞争对手,尤其是在服装行业,其一些老品牌不像以前那么有吸引力,消费者转而选择竞争对手更加便宜的产品。塔吉特在文化战中亦处于不利地位:在公司宣传允许跨性别购物者和雇员可以按照其喜好使用厕所之后,像达拉斯这样的相对保守的市场爆发了抵制运动,影响了其销售业绩。

繁荣的背后还存在着更大的问题。塔吉特希望通过利用“从店面发货”这种操作方式来推动其电商业务,也就是使用店面库存来满足线上订单。但公司的库存管理实在是太差,以至于首席运营官约翰·穆里根不得不叫停一个早期试点项目。塔吉特一直以来都未能妥善解决热门产品的缺货问题,如果店面缺货,公司就难以发货或邀请客户来店取货。

康奈尔的翻修计划正是要解决这类平庸的执行问题。但与其他零售商不同的是,塔吉特面临着来自于投资者的阻碍:虽然华尔街希望各实体巨头采取更多的举措与亚马逊抗衡,但却经常在零售商为此投资之时抛售它们的股票。(2015年,沃尔玛在宣布开展大规模的电子商务投资、提升员工薪资之后,便立即遭遇了25年来最严重的股价下跌。)

康奈尔70亿美元的装修费用声明会让公司股价一路飘红,这一点很少有人质疑。然而这一成本比塔吉特过去两年中净利润的总和还要高,明显在短期内难以获得回报。塔吉特的股价自康奈尔参加那次集会之后便一直在下跌。在2017年6月触底时,其股价的跌幅已经超过了三分之一。

Of course, Target executives know what it’s like to celebrate prematurely. In September 2015, a little over a year after he became CEO, Cornell had basked in a standing ovation during a companywide staff meeting at the Target Center arena in Minneapolis. He was grinning with satisfaction as he stood below a Jumbotron that displayed a graphic showing Target’s shares rising—and Walmart’s stock falling—over the preceding year.

Cornell, a PepsiCo veteran who was Target’s first CEO from outside the company, had taken the job during a particularly bad spell, one that included a massive data breach and a catastrophic expansion into Canada. His early days were a hit, however, thanks to several splashy moves. Cornell sold Target’s $4-billion-a-year pharmacy business to CVS Health. The company launched “innovation labs” meant to quicken Target’s tech metabolism. And the new Cat & Jack children’s apparel brand was a runaway hit with young mothers, quickly becoming a $2 billion business.

But those successes masked some deeper structural problems. Target was being outflanked by Walmart and others in retail’s price wars—particularly in apparel, where most of its older brands no longer had enough appeal to draw customers away from cheaper rivals. Target also stumbled in the culture wars: After the company spoke out about allowing transgender shoppers and employees to use the restrooms of their choice, boycotts in relatively conservative markets like Dallas ate into its sales.

Bigger headaches lurked behind the scenes. Target wanted to bolster its e-commerce with “ship from store” operations, using store inventory to fill online orders. But inventory management was so bad that chief operating officer John Mulligan had to pause an early pilot project. Target had long struggled with being out of stock on popular items—and it’s hard to ship an item, or invite a customer to retrieve one, if you don’t have it in the store.

This was exactly the kind of lackluster execution that Cornell’s renovation plan was designed to fix. But like other retailers, Target faced a bind with investors: Wall Street wanted brick-and-mortar giants to do more to counter Amazon but often dumped shares when a retailer committed money to do so. (In 2015, Walmart announced plans for big e-commerce investments and higher wages—and immediately suffered its biggest share drop in 25 years.)

Little wonder that Cornell’s $7 billion announcement turned stock charts red. The price tag was greater than Target’s net profit for the two previous years put together, with no obvious payoff in sight. Target’s shares had already been sliding since Cornell stood under that Jumbotron; by the time the stock bottomed out in June 2017, it was down more than a third.

****

当康奈尔参观纽约州韦斯特伯里的新塔吉特店面时,他提到了公司有意重新设计行动计划。店面的货架更低,减少了杂乱感,并改善了视线,这样,购物者便可以在店里看得更远。新鲜食品区的木质“种植者箱子”为百货店的走廊平添了高档农贸市场的气氛。打着明亮灯光的展示柜将人们的目光吸引至“带走即食”的零食。其设计初衷便是让韦斯特伯里的塔吉特成为顾客们想去而不是不得不去的地方。康奈尔说:“客流量是塔吉特健康度最重要的衡量指标。”

如今,每一家大型零售店都在寻找一个切入点,让店面消费和在线购物之间能够相得益彰。对于很多零售商来说,数字业务仅仅是分流了店面业务,尤其是那些零售商忽视店面体验的领域。Kantar的分析师劳拉·肯尼迪在评价该行业时表示:“每个人都希望能够像一家科技公司那样运作,但它们随后意识到:‘我们是零售商,必须找到更好的方式把货卖出去。’”

在这一精神的鼓舞下,康奈尔希望塔吉特专注于其核心业务,并优先实施那些能够迅速带来回报的动议。他解散了公司内部寻找“异想天开”科技的企业团队,例如通过电子手段降低生产柜中老化苹果的价格,这种举措与塔吉特的新模式格格不入。新塔吉特店面将减少花哨的内容,并变得更加专注。康奈尔说:“有时候你不得不以量为代价。”但此举会让它回到从前,成为那个顾客们愿意闲逛并探索的零售店。

要实现这一点,塔吉特必须让沉闷的店面鲜活起来。公司在实施大多数店面的翻修时采用了渐进式、“店面装修,敬请见谅”的方式,因此公司无需直接关闭店面,减少了对现金流的影响。地板上铺的油毡被拆除了,摆上了靓丽的百货展示柜。模特亦是如此。在任职初期,康奈尔曾经告诫经理们要按照百货店的规矩行事,使用模特来展示其服饰。他回忆道,问题在于:“店员不知道该怎么使用这些模特。”事实证明,那些在折扣零售有着丰富经验的员工不知道如何最大化利用这些类人的销售道具。塔吉特花了数千万美元聘请了大量的“视觉陈列师”,这样,模特就能够发挥最大的效用,而且还可以带来其他收益。像Goodfellow & Co男装产品线的服装品牌随后发展壮大,原因在于服装的展示颇为吸引眼球,而且搭配了建议的配饰,而不是像彭尼或西尔斯百货那样把衣物叠着堆放在货架上。

包括Universal Thread女装、Threshold(家居)和Heyday(电子产品)在内的自有品牌是塔吉特的秘密武器。他们与其他公司生产的塔吉特独享产品一道,贡献了30%的营收,以及很大一部分利润。分析师欧西解释说,像尿布和清洁剂这类低价产品可以带来人流,但一旦顾客到了店面之后,“你就得向他们兜售Cat & Jack这种自有品牌,因为它的利润更高。”

总的来说,康奈尔2017年的计划包括推出超过24个品牌,并取消一些品牌。康奈尔一年前从诺德斯特龙挖过来的主要商户马克·特瑞登长期以来一直认为,强有力的品牌可以让那些失去新鲜感的顾客成为回头客,并吸引更年轻的顾客。不管出于什么原因,塔吉特似乎开始重新获得年龄优势。Prosper Insights & Analytics称,塔吉特顾客的平均年龄为42.5岁,家庭收入77610美元,而沃尔玛的平均年龄为46岁 ,家庭收入64202美元。

塔吉特缩短了新品牌的上市时长,此举有助于公司占据先机,将其他步伐较慢的零售商甩在脑后。在玩具和体育用品领域,塔吉特将Gymboree、Sports Authority和玩具反斗城等破产竞争对手的用户揽入怀中。三年前,L Brands授权品牌维多利亚秘密宣布,公司基本上将退出女性泳装市场。在9个月后,塔吉特宣布推出其自有泳装品牌,这位零售商表示,公司目前在美国女性泳装销量方面名列前茅。塔吉特还重启了短期合作,其中包括艾萨克·米兹拉伊、莉莉·普利策和温亚德·万斯等设计师。虽然此举对营收的贡献不大,但却能够带来客流量。

管理所有这些动议将对工人提出新的要求。为此,塔吉特提升了雇员的薪资,并承诺其最低时薪在明年年底之前升至15美元,部分原因在于一般性工作涉及的内容变得越来越多。塔吉特正在培训员工,向他们重点传授商品门类领域的专长,尤其是服饰和美容产品,而不是做一个“普通员工”。这一方式与经典的百货店模式相呼应,而考虑到塔吉特成立之初便是明尼苏达百货店的连锁店,这个转变十分耐人寻味。GlobalData Retail的董事总经理尼尔·桑德斯表示:“塔吉特变成了一个现代化的百货店。”

As he tours a renovated Target store in Westbury, N.Y., Cornell points out signs of the redesign plan in action. The location has lower shelves, which reduce the sense of clutter and improve sight lines so shoppers can see farther into the store. Wood “grower bins” in the fresh food area give the grocery aisles an upscale, farmers’-market flair. And brightly lit display cases draw the eye to “grab and go” snacks. It’s all designed to make the Westbury location a place shoppers want to go rather than have to go. “Foot traffic is the most important barometer of Target’s health,” Cornell says.

Today, every big retailer seeks the sweet spot at which in-store and online shopping feed business to each other. At many retailers, digital business simply cannibalizes in-store business, especially when those retailers neglect the in-store experience. “Everybody wanted to act more like a tech company,” Kantar analyst Laura Kennedy says of the industry. “Then they realized: ‘We are retailers and have to figure out how to sell stuff better.’ ”

In that spirit, Cornell wanted Target to focus on its core business and prioritize initiatives that would pay off quickly. He dismantled the team of in-house entrepreneurs mandated with finding “moonshot” tech—electronically lowering the price of an apple as it aged in a produce bin didn’t fit Target’s new mold. The new Target would be less flashy and more focused. “Sometimes you have to turn down the volume,” Cornell says. But it would return to being a retailer where shoppers wanted to browse and explore.

Making that happen required Target to spruce up dreary stores. The company has executed most of its renovations on a gradual, “pardon our appearance” basis, so it hasn’t had to close locations outright—thus reducing harm to cash flow. Linoleum floors are out; slick display cases for groceries are in. So are mannequins. Early in his tenure, Cornell instructed managers to take a page from the department-store playbook and use mannequins to present apparel. The problem: “We didn’t know what to do with them,” he recalls. People with backgrounds in discount retail, it turns out, weren’t sure how to optimize the humanoid sales props. Target spent tens of millions of dollars to hire an army of “visual merchandisers” so that, among other things, the mannequins could have maximum impact. Clothing brands like the Goodfellow & Co men’s line have consequently thrived because the clothing is presented in an appealing way, with items paired to suggest outfits rather than folded and stacked in high piles, as they often are at rivals like J.C. Penney or Sears.

Store brands, including the Universal Thread women’s clothing line, Threshold (home), and Heyday (electronics), are Target’s secret sauce. Along with only-at-Target exclusives made by other companies, they generate about 30% of sales and a disproportionate share of profits. Low prices on staples like diapers and detergent may fill parking lots, explains analyst O’Shea, but once you have shoppers on your property, “you sell them Cat & Jack, which is higher margin.”

In all, Cornell’s 2017 plan has included the launch of more than two dozen brands and the jettisoning of others. Mark Tritton, the chief merchant Cornell had poached from Nordstrom a year earlier, has long argued that strong brands would lure back bored shoppers and win younger ones. Whatever the reason, Target appears to be regaining a demographic edge. According to Prosper Insights & Analytics, the average Target shopper is 42.5 years old with a household income of $77,610, compared with 46 years and $64,202 for Walmart.

Target has also shortened the time it takes to bring new brands to market, helping the company more quickly capitalize on other retailers’ woes. In toys and sporting goods, Target picked up customers from bankrupt rivals like Gymboree, the Sports Authority, and Toys “R” Us. Three years ago, the L Brands franchise Victoria’s Secret announced it would largely exit women’s swimwear. Within nine months, Target had launched its own swimwear brand; the retailer says it’s now the top U.S. seller of women’s bathing suits. Target has also revitalized short-term collaborations that have included such designers as Isaac Mizrahi, Lilly Pulitzer, and Vineyard Vines—which don’t yield much revenue but do get people into stores.

Managing all these initiatives puts new demands on workers. Target has raised employees’ pay, pledging its lowest hourly wage will jump to $15 by late next year, in part because of how much more involved the typical job has become. Target is training workers to have expertise in particular merchandise categories, notably apparel and beauty products, rather than be a “general athlete.” That approach echoes the classic department-store model—an interesting twist, given that Target was originally founded as an offshoot of a Minnesota department-store chain. “What Target has become is the modern department store,” says Neil Saunders, managing director of GlobalData Retail.

不断增长的百货业务:塔吉特表示,在其店面购买食品或饮料的购物者每次到店的消费额是那些不购买食品或饮料人群的两倍。图片来源:Photograph by Simone Lueck for Fortune

塔吉特很晚才推出自有的电商平台,在这一领域,其步伐远落后于沃尔玛和亚马逊。eMarketer称,塔吉特去年的线上销售额增长了36%,但仅有50亿美元,与美国排名前十的电子零售商相距甚远。2017年,塔吉特收购了两家送货科技初创企业,让公司拥有了同日送达的能力。但塔吉特并没有与这些巨头正面对抗,而是致力于打造店面与线上购物者之间的紧密协作。

塔吉特的长期计划是尽量降低从昂贵的配送中心发货的订单数量。首席运营官穆里根称,当你从店面向线上客户发货时,成本要比在配送中心处理和发货低40%。如果客户直接来店面拿货,公司能够节省90%的成本,这对于低利润业务来说是个不小的数目。(如果客户能够在店面购买其他物品就更好了。)这也是现代化仓储室如此重要的原因。而且在这一方面,塔吉特计划的成效正在逐渐显现出来:店面发货如今占据在线销售的80%,这意味着线上营收正在创造更多的利润。

塔吉特规模较小的城区店面展现了所有塔吉特的零售方式。如今这类城区店面已经有了100家,较2017年的30家有所增长。但其影响力超过了其体量:穆里根说,尽管一般的郊区塔吉特店面每平方英尺销售额为300美元,但城市店面的销售额几乎是这个数字的3倍。更为重要的是,它们让塔吉特进入了一个沃尔玛的竞争真空地带,并在更加富有的城区创建了电子商务配送中心。供应城市店面的物流更加复杂:例如,塔吉特在曼哈顿哈罗德广场的新门店不会保留多少额外库存,而是每天补货5次,但大型郊区店面每周可能才补货5次。然而,穆里根正在逐步适应这种从其城市店面向其郊区店面“时间刚刚好”的送货灵活度,以期让整个供应链更好地适应需求。

Target was late in rolling out its own e-commerce platform, and in that category, it lags far behind Walmart and Amazon. Last year, digital sales grew 36% but reached only $5 billion, not enough to crack the top 10 U.S. e-tailers, according to eMarketer. In 2017, Target bought two delivery tech startups that have allowed it to offer same-day delivery. But rather than compete with the giants head to head, Target has aimed to build tight coordination between stores and digital shoppers.

Target’s longer-term plan is to minimize the number of orders filled via delivery from expensive distribution centers. Mulligan, the COO, notes that when you deliver to an online customer from a store, you can save 40% of the costs of handling an item at a distribution center and then shipping it. If the customer picks up an item at a store, you save 90%, a big deal in a low-margin business. (If that customer buys some additional items in the store, so much the better.) This is where modernized stockrooms really matter. And on this front, too, Target’s campaign is paying off: Stores now play a role in 80% of online sales, which means more digital revenue flows to the bottom line.

All of Target’s approaches to retail come together in its small urban stores. There are now about 100 such outlets, up from 30 in February 2017. But they punch above their weight: Mulligan says that while the typical suburban Target generates about $300 in sales per square foot annually, city stores do almost triple that. More important, they get Target into markets where Walmart stores don’t compete and create e-commerce distribution hubs in more affluent urban areas. The logistics of supplying city stores are more complex: The new Target in Manhattan’s Herald Square, for example, keeps relatively little spare inventory and instead gets five shipments a day, while a big suburban store might get five shipments a week. But Mulligan is adapting that “just in time” nimbleness from the urban stores to their suburban cousins—hoping to make the whole chain better at responding to demand.

****

在康奈尔的重大声明宣布30个月后,塔吉特的股价较2017年的低谷增长了40%,而且华尔街预测公司2020年的营收增长将达到强劲的3.4%,至780亿美元。即便如此,经济增速放缓的威胁可能会稀释其收益。塔吉特的股票与其他众多零售商一样,在8月初特朗普政府对其货架上的一系列中国造商品征收关税之后经历了剧烈的震荡。

在很多行业观察家看来,百货是一种塔吉特可以用来提升营收,而且对经济巨变有一定抵抗力的业态。百货仅占塔吉特销售额的20%,但占到了沃尔玛的56%。这一领域的改善有望为塔吉特的营收带来数十亿美元的提升。TABS Analytics的科特·杰塔称,尽管塔吉特无法与全服务类型的百货商沃尔玛竞争,但合理的食品和饮料产品可以让购买食物的消费者每次到店多花40~50美元。确实,执掌塔吉特150亿美元食品业务的负责人史蒂芬妮·伦德奎斯特称,来塔吉特购买食品或饮料的顾客每次到店的开支是那些不购买的两倍。

塔吉特也正在巩固其百货领域之外的营收。在采访中,高管们担心一些新品牌会像一些老品牌一样失去新鲜感。产品设计与开发高级副总裁朱莉·古杰莫斯称,为了防止衰退,公司将打造一支团队,为品牌提供“合理的治理”,以确保每一个品牌按照预期速率增长,并会定期对顾客进行调查。

但塔吉特在防御之际也做好了主动出击的准备。康奈尔说,既然塔吉特连锁的内部事务已经处理完毕,那么我们便有能力从其它地区零售行业的动荡中获益。他说:“随着我们身边的竞争者关闭店面,我们也获得了市场份额机遇。赢家和输家之间的距离正在加速扩大。”相信这个以“牛眼”作为品牌标志的塔吉特会十分愿意将输家的客户揽入自家怀中。(财富中文网)

本文最初登载于《财富》杂志2019年9月刊。

译者:冯丰

审校:夏林

Thirty months after Cornell’s big announcement, Target’s shares trade at 40% above their 2017 lows, and Wall Street forecasts revenue growth for 2020 of a strong 3.4%, to $78 billion. Even so, the threat of a slowing economy can make its gains seem tenuous. Target’s stock, along with those of many other retailers, took a sharp tumble in early August after the Trump administration imposed tariffs on a host of the Chinese-made items that fill store shelves.

Many industry watchers see groceries as a place where Target can boost revenue in a category that’s relatively resistant to economic upheaval. Groceries account for only 20% of Target’s sales, compared with 56% of Walmart’s. Improvements here could add billions to Target’s top line. Kurt Jetta of TABS Analytics says that while Target can’t compete with Walmart as a full-service grocer, the right food offering could add $40 to $50 per visit from shoppers who buy food. Indeed, Stephanie Lundquist, the head of Target’s $15 billion food business, says Target shoppers who buy a food or beverage item spend twice as much per visit as those who don’t.

Outside of the grocery aisle, Target is consolidating its gains. In interviews, executives fret about letting its new brands go stale as some older ones did. Julie Guggemos, senior vice president for product design and development, says that to prevent backsliding, the company is creating a team to provide “proper governance” for brands, making sure each one is growing at the expected rate, and polling customers regularly.

But Target will be playing just as much offense as defense. Now that the chain has its house in order, Cornell says, it should be able to take advantage of turmoil elsewhere in retail. “As competitors around us close stores, we have market share opportunities,” he says. “The winners and losers are breaking away from each other at an accelerated pace.” The losers’ customers, presumably, will be welcome under the sign of the bull’s-eye.

This article originally appeared in the September 2019 issue of Fortune.

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