Target’s next-day essentials delivery service opens to customers in pilot test

Target announced this morning it’s opening to consumers a new, next-day home-delivery service called Target Restock. The company said in May the service was live and being tested with company employees ahead of a consumer-facing pilot program that was due to arrive sometime this summer. The service is initially available to Minneapolis-area customers, which is near Target headquarters.

Target Restock is meant to rival Amazon’s Prime Pantry, as it also offers the ability for online shoppers to fill a box of everyday essentials online — many of which would be otherwise prohibitive to ship individually, like detergent, sodas, dog food, etc.

With Prime Pantry, customers can fill a box up to 45 pounds for a flat rate of $5.99, which is otherwise shipped for free for Prime members, as long as it has at least five qualifying items. However, the boxes are not available for expedited shipping — due to their size and weight, they’re shipped using ground shipping.

Target Restock, meanwhile, will allow online shoppers to fill a box with up to 45 pounds of similar items for $4.99 per box. However, it’s only offered to Target REDcard holders at this time, though they’re able to choose any payment method at checkout. Non-cardholders may be invited in at some point in the future, as the service expands beyond testing.

Customers also have to have an account with in order to do their online shopping.

During the trial period with employees, Target Restock offered around 8,000+ SKUs for shipping. As the retailer opens the service to customers, the available selection now tops 10,000 SKUs.

To use the service, consumers visit the new website, where they can browse products by category, brands or do a search after verifying their ZIP code. As they fill their Restock box, a gray bar will appear at the top of the screen, showing the percentage of the box that’s being used, and how much space is left.

Unlike Amazon’s Prime Pantry, which fulfills orders from their warehouses (at least for now… with its $13.7 billion Whole Foods acquisition, that could easily change), Target Restock fills orders from nearby stores. This is how it’s able to meet its next-day delivery promises, as well.

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Target isn’t the only retailer now looking to leverage its brick-and-mortar footprint to help it better compete in e-commerce. Walmart, too, announced this month it was beginning to test using store staff to make last-mile deliveries. 

In Walmart’s case, orders shipped to its stores would be delivered to customers by employees using their own vehicles as they head home after their shifts. Walmart is testing its own app to route those deliveries efficiently, allowing staff to opt in to earning extra money by handling a few deliveries that aren’t too far off from their everyday commute home.

Target, however, said it would be testing Restock with various delivery providers, beginning with UPS.

“Target Restock is all about making the Target Run easier — and helping our guests save time in their busy lives,” said Mike McNamara, chief information and digital officer at Target, in a statement. “We look forward to seeing how guests in our hometown market respond to this new offering.”

Target Restock is currently available in the Twin Cities (Minneapolis-St. Paul area). The company declined to say how long it expects to test the service, but says the goal of the pilot is to fine-tune the overall experience and test other enhancements that will arrive in the future.