So I have to admit here that I shop at Target quite a bit. It's on my way home from dropping off Crysta at the University every morning, so it's the easiest stop for whatever we happen to be short on at any given time. I have other options at my disposal which are probably equally convenient as well, but they're also equally corporate anyways.
There's a point where you have to shrug and say "It probably doesn't matter where I buy this Diet Coke."
Anywho, one such item I needed to buy a few weeks ago was liquid hand soap. Crysta and I prefer it over bar soap, and traditionally Target has stocked the larger size refills. I went to the store expecting to find it in the same aisle as normal... and found it missing.
My first thought was that it was a simple planogram change, and that I'd find the soap in a neighboring aisle. As I awkwardly circled the hygiene sections of the store though, I soon discovered I couldn't locate the hand soap anywhere. I found bar soap, body washes, shampoos... but no liquid handsoap. Neither refills nor dispensers seemed to be in any sort of obvious position.
I ended up giving up and driving to the Marsh down the street where I purchased a couple of smaller refills. I've been to that Target several times now, and each time I've searched for liquid hand soap... and have yet to be able to find it.
And this drives me nuts. I mean, they have to have it somewhere. Even if they stopped stocking refills, I find it hard to believe this common a product is no longer in their inventory. Is it me? Am I just unable to find it?
And that's when it struck me - why can't finding a product in a physical store be as easy as finding it online? Why am I spending so much time hunting down aisles when I have this wonderful smart phone in my pocket? Stores like Target don't get to pick their local layouts -- those come from corporate. Heck, the Lafayette, IN location is almost a perfect mirror version of the Eau Claire, WI location.
Why can't Target put their store maps in their iPhone and Android apps - picking the store you're currently in by geo-location. Then you'd just search for the product, and it tells you what aisle and shelf it's on. It'd also be able to tell you if its in stock and what similar products they carry.
All of this data is sitting in separate databases right now, and it probably wouldn't be too hard to merge a few tables. I'd pitch the idea, but I'm not really capable of developing the app myself. So this is me, putting it out in the ether as my gift to the world: someone build this app.
Because I can't find the f***ing hand soap.
As an FYI, if you search for the product online, there's a code on the item "Store Item Number (DPCI)". I'm sure most other retailers have something similar. The number is in the format ###-##-####. YOu can plug that into the little red kiosks throughout the store and it will tell you where that item is located. I believe it even tells you the shelf number, which you can find near the item number on any price label in the store. I think the shelf numbers are in #-#-# format.
It's not public knowledge, I only know because I used to work at a Target. But hey, it works. I think the only time they tell the public about it is when they do gift registries as the registries you print in store are labelled the same way.