Target and Cartwheel apps merge ahead of mobile payments launch

Target is attempting to simplify its mobile app strategy by merging its more popular Cartwheel savings app into the main Target app, before eventually closing Cartwheel for good. Today, integration side of things is complete – the main Target app can now serve as a way to both shop online and in-store, with support for lists, delivery and pickup options, and now, Target’s own digital couponing experience, known as Cartwheel.

The change is notable because Cartwheel is actually Target’s more popular application. While the main shopping app is often a top 20 app in the App Store’s “Shopping” category, Cartwheel tends to sit in the top 10. The Cartwheel app itself has been downloaded around 40 million times, and users have saved a billion dollars in-store via its deals – up from the $600 million reported last year.

Target will have a formidable challenge on its hands in getting that many customers to make the switch. Not only will they have to download the Target app, if not already installed, the retailer says that Cartwheel users who signed up with a social account, like Facebook or Google, will have to move to a app in order to port over their existing offers list and lifetime savings to the main app.

You can also choose to just sign up for a new account directly in the Target app, if you don’t care whether or not your list and history carries over.

The retailer had previously announced its plans to merge its apps earlier this year, saying that the change would take place this summer. It also said Cartwheel will be left alone for now, as it favors a slower transition. However, it eventually won’t make sense for both apps to continue to be maintained – especially when the Target app will be the one getting all the new upgrades.

Target had also said that other new features, including an in-store map showing your location and the location of Cartwheel deals, as well as mobile payments support will also come to the main app in time. The retailer has been working to bring mobile payments to its app some time this year. But we understand it may need to push that back to early 2018, as the exact deadline is in flux.

Cartwheel’s transition, however, is a first step towards supporting mobile payments. In the future, the plan is to allow customers to show a barcode at point-of-sale, then receive their Cartwheel savings and pay for their products with just one scan.

Target isn’t the only retailer to consolidate its apps. Ebay did the same a couple of years ago. Meanwhile, Target competitors like WalmartKohl’s, and CVS, all offer their payments and savings features within their main shopping app, not in a separate one.

Cartwheel is now available in the Target app on both iOS and Android.