Target begins curbside return rollout

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
Dan Berthiaume profile picture
Target curbside
Target is underway with offering omnichannel curbside return.

Target is on track to offer curbside returns at all of its stores by the end of summer 2023.

Following a successful pilot launched in February 2022, CNBC reports that Target began enabling customers to make drive-up product returns at about 25% of its nearly 2,000 U.S. stores the week of April 17. Target is said to be on track to offer the service at all of its nearly 2,000 U.S. stores by the end of summer 2023, as the retailer initially announced it would in February 2023.

Through the drive-up returns offering, customers can return most new, unopened items within 90 days of purchase, and within up to a year for Target-owned brands, for free. Target debuted its Drive Up curbside pickup in October 2017 and expanded the service in August 2018, before beginning widespread rollout in April 2019.

Target, which saw fourth quarter profits fall year-over-year in what the retailer termed a “very challenging environment,” plans to invest a total of $4 billion to $5 billion this year to expand its "guest-centric" services, operations network of stores and supply chain facilities, digital experiences and other capabilities.  

“Any time we remove friction from our guest experience it benefits the customers and benefits Target because they deepen their relationship with us,” Target chief stores officer Mark Schindele said in a quote provided to CNBC (see the article here). “We’ve shown that with Drive Up overall. Customers try that service, they love it, and then they shop our stores more often.”

How it works

Customers start a curbside return from the order details section of the Target app and select Drive Up return. They then notify the retailer via app when they’re on their way to the selected store. Upon arrival, customers pull into a Drive Up spot and tap “I’m here” in the app.

After handing the return off to the store associate who comes to their car, the customer will get a return confirmation via email and in the app. Refunds are given in the original form of payment.

Target expands omnichannel services at stores

Target has been adding new features to its drive-up, order pickup, and same-day delivery services (which it offers via its online delivery subsidiary Shipt), in the past couple of years. In fall 2022, the company expanded a pilot that lets customers place Starbucks orders with their curbside pickup purchases at select stores.

At the start of the 2021 holiday season, the retailer introduced “Shopping Partner,” which allows a customer to send someone to pick up an order in their place. Another option added at that time, “Forget Something,” will let customers place a new order at the same store after their initial order has been made in the Target app, and then obtain all their products at once.

And in May 2021, Target began making beer, wine, hard seltzers and other alcoholic beverages available via order pickup and/or drive-up at more than 1,200 stores across the country and via same-day delivery with Shipt at more than 600 locations. The rollout followed successful pilots in California, Florida and South Dakota in 2020.

The discounter also said it will spend $100 million to expand its package-sorting network (dubbed sortation centers) to more than 15 facilities by the end of 2026. The expansion calls for the building of at least six new centers, which retrieve packages daily from range of 30 to 40 local stores for next-day delivery.