What Can Target Expect From Its New International Website?

Target Corp. (NYSE: TGT) has almost no footprint overseas. Management has a plan that it believes can make that shortcoming disappear, or at least be less of a challenge. The huge American retailer has launched an international site. However, without much brand awareness outside the United States, and with a large amount of competition, it is difficult to see how the project will prosper.

According to the company:

Target Corporation announced it has launched an international version of its website available to shoppers in more than 200 countries and territories. The new site, which Target recently began testing, also will allow U.S. customers to ship Target orders to family and friends around the world, just in time for this holiday season.

The site is well designed enough, with the Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) iPhone as one of the feature products. It is the same iPhone that Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) sells at its website, or that consumers can get at Apple’s site. While this fact is not a drawback in and of itself, it is an example that the international site has a competitive problem.

The site also has launched late in the holiday season, based on data that show more and more people buying holiday gifts well in advance of Thanksgiving. Even if that portion of the shopping universe is small, Target should not lose the chance to reach them.

Target already has e-commerce problems in the United States. It vies with sites from other large retailers, such as Best Buy Co. Inc. (NYSE: BBY) and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE: WMT). A small overseas base will not help erase that.

The e-commerce industry allowed retailers to cross borders a long time ago. Over $8 billion of Amazon’s $25.4 billion total came from international sales, according to its latest reported quarter.

It takes an effort to add international e-commerce revenue in a crowded field, and it is particularly hard for Target, which is late to the game.

The new Target international effort makes for a good press release, but that is all.

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