Target drive-up workers say app 'double-tapper' customers are a daily source of chaos and disruption as they try to meet tight fulfillment deadlines
- Target's drive-up order pickup is an increasingly popular option for busy shoppers.
- Some customers don't notify the fulfillment team that they are en route until they've arrived.
It's the digital equivalent of cutting in line, but unlike real-world queue-hopping, most people would never realize they're doing it.
The digital line is made of Target Circle users whose orders are being prepared for drive-up fulfillment at one of the thousands of Target stores that offer the service across the US.
In what Target workers tell Insider is at least a daily occurrence, a customer will arrive at the store before signaling in the app that they are en route and then tapping "I'm on my way" and "I'm here" in rapid succession.
Regardless of whether they're aware of it, these "double-tappers" can set off a ripple effect that lasts long after they've driven off with their orders. And while this only occurs in a small number of total orders, the growing volume of digital sales means more short-notice pickups.
"It's like showing up at your friend's house for dinner unannounced, like 'Hey, I'm here! What's for dinner?'" a drive-up worker in Oklahoma said. "That's what it feels like to us."
She and other Target workers who spoke with Insider asked that their names not be used, but their identities are known to Insider.
Brian Harper-Tibaldo, the senior crisis manager at Target, said in a statement to Insider: "At Target, we try hard to deliver Drive Up orders in 3 minutes or less, and this internal guidance is constantly evaluated to ensure it's right for our guests and reasonable for our team."
"Since we know that many aspects of wait time are outside of our team's control, we allow for some flexibility and don't evaluate individual team-member performance based on this metric," he added.
Workers told Insider that once a customer taps "I'm on my way" in the app, they typically begin loading boxes and bags onto three-tiered carts in preparation for the customer's arrival.
Once the customer taps "I'm here," the fulfillment team is given a three-minute window to get the order to the customer's car. Customers who double-tap start that clock without giving the team time to prepare.
"It's just kind of unrealistic, especially when the staffing is continuously being cut," a worker in California said. "The biggest issue is that we don't have the people to meet their goals, so we're stretched incredibly thin and a bit overworked."
Small delays during the drive-up rush can cause big ripple effects
Drive-up workers require specific training, so the team can't easily pull extra support from other areas of the store to help during a rush.
Workers told Insider that, on a normal day, the queue of orders waiting for pickup at their locations can easily hit 300 and can top 800 during holiday-rush periods.
The volume means that even if most guests give adequate notice in the app, a poorly timed double-tap on a 60-item order can kick off a cascade of delays.
"Some stores still have grocery items in the back because they do not have dedicated refrigerators or freezers behind guest service at the front, so a lot of us have to literally go across the store to get the items all within those three minutes," a Texas worker said.
Because of the company emphasis on tracking performance metrics, fulfillment workers are faced with a difficult choice when a double-tap pops up on their scanner screens: carry on with the prepared orders and let the clock run "into the red," or scramble to get the order outside and make everyone else wait.
"One person can disrupt the flow for the next 10 to 15 minutes," the Texas worker said.
A team lead in Michigan said she's had workers in tears from bad customer interactions that stem from frustrations with delayed orders.
Target previously increased the timer on its internal tracking system from two minutes to three, and several workers Insider spoke with said an extra two minutes or so on the clock to give them five minutes to process double-tap orders would ease the pressure they feel.
The app also notices when a customer double-taps and offers its own nudge: If you want your order brought out more quickly, it says, try letting it know before you arrive.
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