Target Corporation

Coming in at #32 on the Fortune 500 list, Target Corporation is a big player in the retail space. With over 1,900 locations in the United States alone, the store is a household name and its shelf space represents a big opportunity for any up-and-coming CPG brand.  

If your brand has recently secured shelf space at Target, there are some important behind-the-scenes steps to take before getting your product in front of shoppers. Transporting your freight to its destination is a crucial part of this process.  

Fortunately for you, Zipline is made up of retail logistics experts who have distilled their knowledge to create a guide that covers common pain points and actions you can take to be successful in Target locations. 

Common Pain Points When Shipping to Target 

Customer Pickup vs Delivered 

Choosing between Customer Pickup (CPU) or Delivered pricing is one of the first big decisions for a transportation manager moving product into Target Distribution Centers (DC). Customer Pickup means that the retailer (in this case, Target) picks up your product using their own fleet or purchased transportation and provides pricing based on that service.  

Many companies assume that letting retailers manage the process is the best choice because it is less work and pricing is more predictable. In some cases, this is true. 

However, there are frustrations that brands who choose this method expose themselves to. For example, if Target’s purchased transportation picks up your freight but misses their delivery appointment, your brand will still face a chargeback for the rescheduled delivery appointment. 

These chargebacks, detailed below, are a common pain point for brands utilizing CPU pricing. 

Must-Arrive-on-Date vs. Must-Arrive-by-Date 

Target utilizes a Must-Arrive-on-Date (MAOD) which is stricter than the more common Must-Arrive-by-Date (MABD). For MAOD, Target sets a date, and your product must arrive at the Distribution Center on that specific date. It cannot deliver before or after that date or your brand will face chargebacks. This creates difficulty by limiting flexibility for logistics operations, especially when paired with Target’s slim grace period of 15 minutes. If a truck arrives for an appointment later than fifteen minutes after the scheduled time, it will be refused, forced to reschedule, and incur a chargeback for your brand. 


Target will fine vendors for late deliveries and missed or rescheduled appointments. These charges are based on the Cost of Goods Sold (COGS), which means your brand will be fined based on the value of the load that is rescheduled or missed. Many facilities charge 3% for fines of this nature, but Target facilities charge up to 5% COGS. These charges can quickly stack up if your brand struggles with meeting delivery appointments.  

Steps for Success in Target 

Despite the challenges your brand will face, it is very possible to ace your Target deliveries. We have some tips for you that we have gathered over our 15+ year history of delivering successfully into retail locations. 

Stay Organized 

Target is a paper-heavy facility, meaning that drivers need to have a paper copy of their BOL to be accepted at the delivery. All information needs to be correct on the paperwork including PO number, confirmation number, SKU number, etc. Any paperwork with incorrect information will result in a rejection and incur a chargeback.  

Double and triple-check the information that is attached to a load in your system to ensure that a perfectly acceptable load is not rejected due to a small oversight. Your product needs to be delivered on time and in full so that it can be placed on store shelves and in front of customers when it is supposed to be.  

Schedule in Advance 

Because Target utilizes MAOD, delivery appointments are in high demand. Our experts recommend at least 14 days of lead time between a delivery being scheduled and the actual date. This ensures that your team has plenty of wiggle room to make sure the load delivers according to plan. This is especially useful when utilizing non-guaranteed forms of transportation, such as Less-than-truckload (LTL) or rail. These carriers do not guarantee a delivery date, so having two weeks to work out any kinks is crucial. 

In the case that your brand truly cannot deliver on the date that Target sets as the MAOD (in the case of a holiday or other unavoidable events), it is possible to work with the buyer to get your MAOD moved. If you are going to take this route, you will want to start that conversation as soon as possible. If you are scheduling loads well in advance, you should have plenty of time to have these conversations when they become necessary. 

Ship Full Truckload if Possible 

As mentioned above, LTL and rail transportation are non-guaranteed modes. This means that carriers do not guarantee a specific time that your freight will be delivered.  In the case that something does go wrong, causing chargebacks to be incurred because of late deliveries, you will be unable to pass any of the cost onto the carrier who caused the issue. There is also much less visibility available to you during transit. 

This is why our experts recommend utilizing Full Truckload (FTL) if possible. FTL provides much higher visibility during transit, and carriers do guarantee delivery since there is only one client’s freight on a single truck. This visibility and control over your freight provides peace of mind when shipping into strict facilities like Target. 

Zipline Logistics Can Help You Succeed in Target 

At Zipline Logistics, we have 16+ years of retail-specialized logistics experience. Our expert operators, world-class service, and tailored strategies have allowed us to help brands like yours grow effectively. 

 Here are some stats we are proud to share:  

  • 95% on-time in-full average for appointments     
  • World-class customer satisfaction score ranking 5 times the industry average    
  • National network of 38,000+ hand-picked carriers vetted to haul retail goods specifically    
  • 97% of our orders are destined to land on a retail shelf  

We have the tools and expertise to help you reach your goals and scale your business. If you need help delivering to Target, do not hesitate to reach out.