It's one of the most important weeks of the year for retailers, as they prepare to kick off the Thanksgiving holiday season on Thursday night. This year, the Internet is expected to be the No. 1 shopping destination for consumers, according to Deloitte's 2013 holiday survey. However, that could spell disaster for Target (NYSE:TGT).
While other brick-and-mortars such as Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT) and Best Buy (NYSE:BBY) aim to make it faster and easier for guests to shop on their respective websites, Target may have destroyed its best chance at attracting online customers this season. Consumers all over the country took to the Twitter feeds on Monday to protest Target's new Web design.
A side-by-side comparison of chaos
The discount chain launched a redesigned e-commerce site last week that more closely resembles the cluttered splash page of top rival Walmart.com. Perhaps Target was trying to channel the pandemonium that so often accompanies Black Friday.
Whatever the company's reasoning for its redesign, Target now faces losing online holiday shoppers to rival sites including BestBuy.com. With a clean layout, Best Buy's website makes it easy for visitors to find special Black Friday deals on the products they need. Target's new website, on the other hand, is even confusing for seasoned Target.com shoppers such as myself. Here's what other consumers had to say about Target's new site:
The timing of Target's e-commerce flop couldn't be worse. Consumers in the United States will spend $78.7 billion online in November and December this year, up 15% from 2012, according to Forrester Research. Internet shoppers are also slated to spend more than ever this year. Forrester estimates that 167 million people will shop online during the holiday season, spending an average of $472 apiece. Unfortunately, if consumers aren't happy with Target.com, they will shop elsewhere online.
If it ain't broken...
Target's old website was a big hit with online shoppers. In fact, three months ago Target told The Wall Street Journal that its digital sales were growing by double-digit percentages. However, that could change if Target isn't able to recover from the recent backlash over its new website in time for the holidays. Unhappy shoppers will get a chance to tell Target exactly how they feel about its recent misstep, when the company's executive VP and chief marketing officer, Jeff Jones, hosts a live Twitter chat starting at 10 p.m. on Thursday. But for now, it looks like Target has the most to lose heading into the holidays.
Fool contributor Tamara Rutter owns shares of Target. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.