Target stores can order your items online if they're out of stock

You don't need to pull out your phone if something is out of stock.

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Jon Fingas
November 1st, 2017
Pat Greenhouse/The Boston Globe via Getty Images
Pat Greenhouse/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Many stores will encourage you to order online if they've run out of stock, but they usually want you to do it yourself. Do you really want to pull out your phone and wade through a website while you're in the store, or hope you'll remember to order when you get home? Target is hoping to do better. It's rolling out an app that lets them order for you using their handheld devices -- you just have to fork over your credit card like you would with any other retail purchase.

The retail chain has been testing the feature since the spring, and expects it to be in wide use in time for holiday shopping. Is this always going to be a huge time saver? Probably not. However, it may give you a bit of a break if you're exasperated and just want to know that sweater you were looking for is on its way to your home.

There are some subtler upgrades that have rolled out recently. There's a "more intuitive" self-checkout system and in-store WiFi with twice the bandwidth. Also, store IT systems now use "bots" that automatically fix some problems. Staff can focus more on helping you and less on fighting their equipment, at least in theory. None of these updates are big in an of themselves, but Target is clearly betting that multiple small tech improvements (plus its more substantial additions) will amount to a noticeable difference.

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