Target's launch of a fresh curbside pick-up service in its hometown of Minneapolis-St. Paul isn't the retailer's first attempt to master an increasingly popular way of shopping.
The new pilot program, called "Drive Up," will bring orders straight to shoppers' cars after they ring up purchases through Target's app. Shoppers tell their Target app, "I'm on My Way," when they're headed to the store. And designated parking spots at Target locations aim to make the loading of items by store employees more seamless.
"Drive Up" is currently being tested in 50 Target locations throughout Minnesota.
Target first partnered with San Francisco-based Curbside in 2014, testing pick-up in parking lots at 11 of its San Francisco-area stores. By 2015, the partnership reached more than 100 stores in New York, New Jersey, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Los Angeles.
The pilot was eventually ended last year under Target's Chief Technology Officer Mike McNamara, who shifted the company's focus at the time to other initiatives.
Target said Tuesday that "Drive Up" is an example of the company using its stores as "hubs" — or last-mile destinations close to homes. News of the pilot was first reported by the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
Target's bigger rival, Wal-Mart, has already added a curbside pick-up option to hundreds of its stores, choosing to market the service more around shoppers using it for fresh groceries.
For Target, "Drive Up" will initially feature nearly 200,000 items such as home furnishings, household essentials, toys and nonperishable food. Fresh groceries didn't make the list.
Meanwhile, Target is making moves — albeit slowly — to reach consumers more quickly in urban markets. In August, Target said it would be buying Grand Junction, a San-Francisco based transportation technology company whose software manages retailers' local deliveries. With Grand Junction, Target is testing a same-day delivery pilot in New York.
Target has also been testing a next-day home delivery service called Target Restock, similar to Amazon's Prime Pantry.
Curbside pick-up is becomingly an increasingly popular option at some of America's largest grocery chains. Florida-based Publix, for example, announced last month that it will begin to test the concept at a slew of its stores.
Kroger's ClickList also offers shoppers the option of having groceries loaded into one's car.