Tuesday, December 31, 2013

More troubles for Target: this time with Gift Cards

Target has another problem on its hands this holiday shopping season. Separate from the data breach that affected some 40 million people who shopped at the retailer between November 27 and December 15, Fox News is reporting that thousands of gift cards sold over the holidays weren't properly activated. As a result, some gift card recipients are left rankled after finding out their present was worth about as much as a lump of coal at the register.

A source confirmed that cashiers scanned the wrong code on the cards, and that the mistake could impact up to 40,000 gift cards sold across the country. This latest black eye for the bulls-eye brand has caused headaches for customers and store employees alike as shoppers tried to spend their holiday cash only to find out their gift cards weren't properly processed at checkout and had no value.

A Target spokesperson said company is aware that some gift cards weren't activated correctly; however, they say customers can go to the guest services desk or call the number on the back of the card for help. Unfortunately, the same call volume issues that hit the retailer after the data breach seemed to extend to that phone number as well. When Fox 9 called the number, a recording stated, "We're sorry, but we are extremely busy. So, the wait to speak to a team member is much longer than usual. If your question is urgent, please stay on the line. Otherwise, you may want to call back in a bit."

Monday, December 30, 2013

Target's brand takes a big hit after security breach...

Famed investor Warren Buffet once said "It takes 20 years to build a reputation, and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you'll do things differently." With Target, the retailer is finding that its response to the massive security breach a few weeks ago is falling flat with consumers.

CBS News reports that Target's brand has plunged in perception, according to YouGov's BrandIndex, which taps into an online panel of 2.5 million people to measure how consumers rate corporate reputations. In the days following the company's disclosure of the hack, Target's brand plunged by 35 points on BrandIndex's scale, which ranges from a high of 100 to a low of -100. That means that Target's brand score dropped to -9 on Dec. 20, from 26 points the week before the security breach was announced.

If that's not bad enough, Target has gone further into the red, despite a discount offer last weekend and efforts by the retailer to staff up call centers and to reach out to customers. The company's BrandIndex score stood at -19 on Dec. 23. Despite the 10 percent discount and the offer of free credit monitoring, "the retailer has reached its lowest consumer perception point since at least June 2007," said BrandIndex managing director Ted Marzilli. "This also marks the first time since that same time that Target has had more negative perception than positive perception."

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Makeup tips from Napoleaon Perdis...

Napoleon Perdis - the makeup artist behind the NP Set cosmetics line available exclusively at Target - recently shared his top 3 makeup tips with Harper's Bazaar. Click here to learn his secrets to having sculpted cheekbones, wider eyes, and fuller lips in minutes.

Holiday creep hits Target...

I've written about "holiday creep" many times on my blog before: how Target barely gets over one holiday without moving to another. And consistent with last year, Target already has Valentine's Day merchandise out just a few days after Christmas, as shown by this heart-themed endcap I spied in the Baby Department yesterday.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Double-Take: Ballard Designs vs. Target

It's time for another double-take, where we take one item from the Bullseye and pair it up with a lookalike designer piece. Here we have two very similar rustic bar stools, which could also double as a small end table. But one of these chic seats is the "Allen" style by Ballard Designs and will set you back $149, whereas the other is the "Dakota" style (at Target) and costs only $67.99 (currently on sale from $79.99). Which one is which? The answer appears in the comments section below.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Target's post-holiday sale

Good morning readers! I hope you all had a wonderful holiday. Are you up and out already this morning hitting the post-Christmas sales? I am not - and more on that in a sec - but if you're game, Target's after-Christmas clearance started this morning at 7am. I perused their new ad (posted online) this morning, and it seems like pretty standard fare, including half-off all holiday decor, wrapping paper and ribbon, and lots of storage products to store all those ornaments and decorations. They also have deals on electronics - including TVs and game systems - as well as 40% off all winter clothing, boots, and slippers.

As for me: I don't shop Target the day after Christmas because I find that if you wait a couple of days - to say the 27th or 28th - you get a better selection. Think about it: it takes stores at least a day to get all those Christmas returns back on the racks. Target was already pretty picked over in the days leading up to Christmas, so I prefer to let the holiday returns trickle in to have more to choose from. 

Monday, December 23, 2013

The Target backlash continues...

The backlash against Target continues, and now it's not just all about the massive security breach that affected the retailer over Black Friday weekend.

While Target offered a "10% off weekend" to try to lure shoppers back to stores, I heard on NPR this morning that sales were still down 3-4%. Not good news for a major retailer during the Holiday season.

Also: JP Morgan Chase, the largest bank in the United States, told customers on Saturday that they would be limited to $100 in cash withdrawals and $300 in total purchases per day if they had used Chase debit cards at Target during the recent security breach. While the limit does not apply to Chase credit cards, many news outlets interviewed affected customers over the weekend who were not happy about the limits placed on their debit cards in the last few days before Christmas.

And finally: Beyonce has no love for the Bullseye at the moment. Business Insider reports the pop star (shown here) walked through a Walmart store in Tewksbury, Mass., on Friday night, announcing that everyone there would get a $50 gift card. With 750 customers, the tab came to $37,500. Beyoncé was sending Target a message: Boycott my new album and I'll give my love and dollars to a competitor.

The controversy surrounds the release of Beyoncé's latest album, "XO." On Dec. 13, Beyoncé surprised fans and brick-and-mortar retailers with the sudden release of the album only at Apple's iTunes store for the first week. The 14-track, 17-video digital album was priced at $15.99. The album became an overnight bestseller, with more than 1 million copies sold so far. But some retailers, such as Target and Amazon, were not amused by her one-week exclusive deal with Apple, and have refused to carry the album as a result.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Lim leaves stores, but some items still online

The 3.1 Phillip Lim for Target collection disappeared from stores a few weeks ago - right around Thanksgiving. Meaning: the clearance racks of all those leftover blue and sequined dresses were cleared, probably headed for your local Goodwill stores. The Lim items I've seen recently in stores have been far and few between, and I notice that if you scan the barcode, it comes up "item not found". That indicates that Lim merchandise is no longer in Target's database, so you'll get the item at the last price listed on the tag without it being discounted any further.

Meanwhile, there's still some deals on the few Lim goodies left on Target.com. The best of the bunch  - which also seems to be available in all sizes - is this Ruffle Tank in Navy (shown) or in White. At 65% off, it's now just $9.44 (down from $29.99).

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Target offers "10% Off" Weekend...

NBC News reports that Target is offering its 10 percent employee discount to shoppers this weekend following a massive breach of its customers’ credit and debit card information.

“Our guests’ trust is our top priority at Target and we are committed to making this right,” Target CEO Gregg Steinhafel said in a statement on Target’s website Friday.

The cyberattack “was a crime against Target, our team members, and most importantly, our guests,” Steinhafel said. “We’re in this together, and in that spirit, we are extending a 10 percent discount — the same amount our team members receive — to guests who shop in U.S. stores on Dec. 21 and 22. Again, we recognize this issue has been confusing and disruptive during an already busy holiday season. We want to emphasize that the issue has been addressed and let guests know they can shop with confidence at their local Target stores.”

The offer is limited to one in-store transaction per guest. Target has also pledged free credit monitoring for affected customers.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Target Hit by Credit-Card Breach over Black Friday Weekend

Business Insider reports that Target is investigating a possible data breach that could involve millions of customers' credit and debit card information. According to journalist Brian Krebs - who cites "multiple reliable sources," - the breach appears to have affected Target stores nationwide and may happened over the course of several days on or around Black Friday.

"The breach window is definitely expanding," a source identified as an anti-fraud analyst at a top-10 U.S. bank card issuer told Krebs. "We can’t say for sure that all stores were impacted, but we do see customers all over the U.S. that were victimized."

And as of this writing, Consumerist reports that the U.S. Secret Service confirmed to the Wall St. Journal that it is investigating the data breach that is believed to have taken advantage of a vulnerability in the network of some 40,000 card-scanning devices at Target stores nationwide. I wonder if that's why the clerk at the San Mateo, CA store today asked me to scan my card personally, saying all the card scanners in the store were down - ?

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Target's "Seasonal Shipping"

Target is offering "seasonal shipping" on most (if not all) items on Target.com ordered through Dec. 19th. That is the cutoff date to order to get items by Dec. 24th at no extra charge. Target.com should automatically set the "seasonal shipping" option for you, but if not, you can select it when you place your order.

Meanwhile, I visited my local store yesterday and hate to say that things were already pretty picked over. I heard one clerk tell someone over the phone they "only got a few at our store and they sold out yesterday" - I'm assuming that might have been the Nintendo or Sony Playstation game systems that Target had on sale this week. And a gentleman who was looking for thermal underwear in the men's department was told by another clerk they were sold out of that, too. I have definitely noticed a more limited selection on certain items this year, like the Merona men's flannel sleep pants that I usually get as stocking stuffers for my boys. This year, they come in fewer prints than previous years. And my aunt reports that her favorite Hanes fleece pants are practically sold out of our local stores (and have already disappeared from Target.com).

Friday, December 13, 2013

Double-Take: Elan vs. Mossimo

It's time for another double-take, where we take one item from Target and match it against a similar - yet pricer - piece. Now you may have noticed that embellished sweatshirts are a definite trend this season. And here we have two versions in lovely lace. Both are simple gray sweatshirts with black lace trim, but one is by Elan (available at Piperlime for $69) whereas the other is by Mossimo (at Target) and will only set you back about $20. Which one is which? The answer appears in the comments section below.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

The Nate Berkus Holiday Collection

You've probably already seen the Nate Berkus for Target Holiday Collection, as it hit stores several weeks ago. In a new Q&A on A Bullseye View, Nate reveals the inspiration behind latest offerings, stating "my holiday collection at Target this year focuses on something that will work well beyond the holidays… black, white and gold. It’s a timeless color combination that adds some shine to your holiday decor but will work well into the spring — long after the garland has come down." Nate continues: "It’s funny, I never follow the trends — I just design what I love. I’ve been designing with brass, gold and metallic for years. It always works, and your eye will never get tired of it." 

These particular vases (shown) were also featured last week on Good Morning America as part of their "Great Gifts Under $35" segment. Kate Dimmock, fashion director for People StyleWatch, dubbed them "the perfect gift for the woman who’s been bitten by the decorating bug."

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

New @ Target.com: The Awesome Shop

Long-time readers of my blog might remember Target's "Red Hot Shop". It disappeared in early 2008, then re-appeared that August, then disbanded again in 2011. Now Target seems to have resurrected the concept with their new online "Awesome Shop", dubbed a place for "cool stuff everyone's talking about." There's a lot to wade through - with over 1,000 products currently listed - but products that are highly reviewed or "top pinned" (@ Pinterest) are flagged, which is helpful.