Missing your trips to Target Canada now that its stores have closed? There's a new option: Canadians can buy goods from Target's international website and have them shipped to this country.
"Target loves Canada," states its Canadianized website for shoppers.
The site "is part of a test and we will have more details to share in the near future," Target spokeswoman Jamie Bastian told CBC News in an email.
If the test is any indication of what's in store, the retail giant may once again be missing the mark when it comes to winning over Canadian customers.
Target boasts online that it's making life easy for Canuck shoppers by offering goods priced in Canadian dollars and "low international shipping rates."
But when CBC News examined the website, the posted prices were often much higher compared with the same items offered in the U.S. And shipping costs were so high they sometimes totalled more than the advertised item.
Considering Target's track record in this country, marketing expert, Mandeep Malik doesn't believe the site as it exists now will win any hearts in Canada. "My instinctive reaction [is] that this is something that we will collectively laugh about, like really?" says the McMaster University professor.
Target's failed expansion
Many Canadians were ecstatic when U.S.-based Target set up shop in Canada in 2013. But the love affair soon ended when customers discovered higher prices and less selection compared with U.S. stores.
The retail giant was hemorrhaging cash and wound up closing all 133 Canadian stores by April 2015.
- Target closes all 133 stores in Canada, gets creditor protection
- Target Canada to close all stores by April 12
Since then, some shoppers have been campaigning Target to let Canadians buy its goods online and have them shipped to Canada.
Now, their dream has come true — or maybe not, once they crunch the numbers.
"I just looked and the pricing is absurd," wrote one disgruntled shopper on an online discussion thread titled, "OMG — Target shipping to Canada!"
"I was super excited about this yesterday," posted another shopper. But that excitement quickly died down when the person apparently tried to buy something on the Canadian Target site: "My $30 purchase was almost $70 with shipping and duty. Absolutely ridiculous."
"$29 to ship a T-shirt, no thanks!" wrote another unhappy customer.
Adding up the costs
CBC News also considered some purchases on the site. We looked at ordering a Star Wars The Force Awakens Battlefront Blanket. The price for the blanket was $28.94. But the shipping cost to send the item to Canada was $30.98 — more than the price of the blanket. Combined with duties and taxes, the total came to $69.24 — $40 extra on top of the original purchase price.
U.S. Target shoppers get free shipping for online purchases of $25 or more.
Shipping costs on the Canadian site were high for all items we checked out. For example, a sleeveless dress made by Mossimo clothing was priced at $34.05. The shipping bill, at $31.46, almost equalled the purchase price.
We found the same dress on Target's U.S. site for $24.99 US. The Canadian price was almost $10 more, which is greater than the current exchange rate.
CBC News also tried to buy numerous Apple iPads on the site. Even though the items were advertised in Canadian dollars, every time we went to checkout, the site told us, "This product is not available for shipments to this country."
Another failed venture?
Malik, the marketing professor, says Target didn't grasp how to please Canadian shoppers when it opened its physical stores in this country. And, he says, once again, it appears that the retailer clearly doesn't understand how to serve Canadian cyber-shoppers.
"[Target is] almost suggesting through this re-entry into Canada, even though it's in an online space, that I am not a savvy shopper who doesn't understand what my options are," he says.
He points out that online retailers such as Amazon have already won over Canadians with a bevy of products, competitive prices and shipping deals.
Malik concludes that Target's online offering for Canadians — at least in its current state with no real incentives — is just not a smart marketing move. "It's a complete waste of time, effort, and poor relationship management with potential consumers in the future," he says.