*Target Gets New Look for Holidays

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Continuing its attempted makeover as a hip retail brand, Target Corp. has redesigned its Web site with an eye on in-store shoppers who are looking for gifts online.

The new target.com boasts easier navigation and tools, more products and a friendlier look. Particularly evident is Target's emphasis on holiday business, especially in its registries and its card and search areas.

"We want to develop and use the site to provide more information and knowledge that will hopefully influence consumers' shopping behavior and entice them to go to our stores more often," said Dale Nitschke, president of Target Direct, which is responsible for target.com.

The redesign, which comes 14 months after target.com launched, aims to reassure regular Target shoppers that the site is an extension of the brand. It also is in line with recent relaunch efforts by retailers such as BestBuy.com and Wal-Mart.com.

The new home pages for each category, for example, display trendy merchandise with relevant upsells or cross-sells. Also, to make gift buying easier, the site boasts three tabs at the top of the home page: giftregistries, giftcard and giftsearch. The gift search function, a new feature, allows consumers to search by price, occasion or interest.

Emphasis this holiday season is on Target's major merchandise categories -- home décor, apparel, and gifts and toys. The online store will offer nearly 15,000 products in those categories.

The target.com makeover marks the culmination of a series of marketing efforts to propel the online business.

For one, the site was migrated to a new platform. Target inked a deal with AOL, allowing for the distribution of co-branded AOL CD-ROM disks in Target stores and 10 percent discounts for registered AOL/target.com users. And it created a co-branded site with online broker E*Trade.

Through all these efforts, the idea is to replicate the in-store ambience online. It is also in the spirit of Target ads in print and on TV and billboards that target a younger audience with colorful and lively visuals and music. The old site fell short in that portrayal.

"Some of the visuals and imagery were not reflective of some of the marketing campaigns we have in store and offline, and this design allows us to present to our guests a more seamless approach to our brand," Nitschke said.

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