Target's Drive Up Service Lets Customers Order From The App And Have Their Items Delivered To Their Cars

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Like many people, I have a love/hate relationship with Target: I love how easily I can get pretty much all my errands accomplished there… but the store’s popularity means that it’s also usually full of people. (I’m, uh, not really a people person.) But Target’s Drive Up service might make that complaint a thing of the past: Now available in eight states, it allows shoppers to make their orders within the Target app — and then have a team member actually bring it to their car for them, totally negating the need to actually venture inside the nightmare that can be the modern shopping experience.

Heck, and yes.

The widespread arrival of the service has actually been quite a long time coming. It had its test run with the general public in the Twin Cities area last fall; according to the Star-Tribune, 50 stores throughout Minneapolis — which, by the way, is where Target’s headquarters are based — began offering Drive Up on Oct. 2, 2017. However, the first test actually occurred even earlier than that: According to a press release that was published on Target’s corporate website at the start of the Minneapolis trial, “select Target team members” had actually begun testing the service out during the summer of 2017. The Star-Tribune clarified that this earlier test had been experienced by “headquarters employees.”

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Given the progression from small, in-house trial to general release, it’s clear that the program works; indeed, Target noted in a press release that the Minneapolis pilot garnered “overwhelmingly positive guest reviews,” which in turn led to the larger rollout. This latest update sees Drive Up coming to Florida and Texas, as well as select stores in Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and South Carolina, encompassing nearly 270 stores in all. What’s more, Target plans to make Drive Up available at around 1,000 stores all over the country by the time 2018 draws to a close.

Here’s how it works:

Boot up the Target app (or, y’know, download it if you don’t already have it; then boot it up) and start shopping as usual. When you add the item to your cart, though, do it by scrolling down through the available options and selecting “drive up.” As you go through the rest of the ordering process, the app will also ask you the type of car you drive (SUV, station wagon, etc.) and its color so the team member who ultimately ends up bringing your order to you knows which car to look for. After you’ve placed your order, the app will give an estimate as to how long it will take to get ready; however, the estimates tend to be generous: According to Tech Crunch, one window offered was “within two hours,” although the order itself ended up being ready after a mere 21 minutes.

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In any event, when your order is ready, you’ll be notified both by the app and via email (and, if you’ve got app notifications enabled, you’ll get a push notification, too). When you’re on your way to the store, open the Target app, head to the Shop tab, and select “I’m on my way.” When you arrive, head to the parking spots specifically labeled “Drive Up” (they’ll be near the front of the store, according to Target’s help page) and wait just a minute or two. A team member will then bring your order directly to your car, scan a barcode in the Target app to confirm that it’s the right car, ask you to confirm that you’ve received everything in order, and then ask you to sign to complete the order. Then and only then will your designated payment method be charged for it.

Oh, and for the privacy-concerned: The app does ask you to share your location so the Target at which your order is being prepared can stay in the loop as to where you are in relation to it; however, the tracking ends after the order has been signed for. You can also just share your location manually, too, though, notes Tech Crunch, if the idea of the app tracking you makes you nervous (which, y’know, would be understandable).

There are, of course, some limitations on exactly what you can order using Drive Up — but not many: According to Tech Crunch, the service “isn’t for fresh and frozen items, but is good for almost anything else — from everyday essentials to TVs to clothing to beauty to household goods and more.” And even though you can’t order fresh or frozen grocery items with Drive Up, you can order packaged foods and dry goods like cereal, snacks, and coffee.

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Although I’ve seen a few reactions to the service suggesting that it might make consumers “lazy,” I don’t think that’s necessarily the case; the point is about ease of access. We live in a fast-paced world, after all, and sometimes, between all the work, family, household, social, and other obligations that make up our daily existences, there isn’t always time to make a whole Target run. The ease of being able to make your order over, say, your lunch break and then just pick it up on your way home (or to pick up the kids from soccer practice, or after your dentist appointment, or whatever) means that a chore that might otherwise have taken around 45 minutes is shrunk down to maybe 10 — leaving you more time for all the other stuff you’ve likely got to take care of. And, I mean, hey, no one is forcing you to use Drive Up if you don’t want to; it's just a nice option to have. Some folks, I’ve no doubt, will find Drive Up very useful indeed, even if others decide to eschew it.

If you don’t happen to live in the South or Southeast right now, you’re out of luck for the time being; however, given Target’s grand scheme to expand Drive Up nearly fourfold in the next eight months, you likely won’t have to wait too long to experience it. Fingers crossed!