Steinhafel And The Bungled Target.com Relaunch

May 6, 2014 | By Jeffrey Kemnitz


Yesterday, Gregg Steinhafel stepped down as CEO and Chairman of Target. Media coverage has rightfully cited the massive data breach and the money-bleeding expansion into Canada as causes. But lest we forget that he also presided over the bungled Target.com relaunch?

(Disclosure: My wife works at Target. Disclosure #2: I shop there every weekend.)

I think everyone remembers the great Missoni crash of 2011? That was one of six major Target.com outages leading up to the holiday shopping season. At least they had a darling crash message.

Target.com Error Message

Moreover, Target put on a clinic in how not to redesign an e-commerce website. All this eventually led Steve Eastman, president of Target.com, to step down.

Target.com Before After Relaunch

Target has a lot of “comps” in the industry, but there’s no one they eye more than Walmart. Yes, Walmart is much, much bigger, but they’ve also been nimbler on the e-commerce front. Walmart’s online business has grown twice as fast as Target’s over the four year period from 2009 – 2013.

Target Walmart Online Sales Comparison

Target’s digital folks have done some things right to keep up with the Walmarts and Amazons – free shipping for RedCard users, online subscription service for household essentials, in-store pick up of online orders – and there’s other cause for optimism. Have you used Target Cartwheel? It’s a pretty slick couponing app.

With an eye on the future, Target has opened an office in San Francisco and a new Accelerator program in India. They’ve got their work cut out. Walmart employs over 1,500 people at their e-commerce headquarters in San Bruno. As a Minnesota homer, I’m cheering for Target.com.