Will Target’s New Tech Center Spur Innovation?
A RetailWire poll back in January found that only 45 percent of respondents believed many other retailers would open their own innovation labs over the next three years. Count Target among those that are not wasting any time. Last Friday, the chain announced the opening of its Technology Innovation Center located in San Francisco, close to talent and partner companies located in Silicon Valley.
"Retail is undergoing a major revolution, and technology is key," Beth Jacob, executive vice president and chief information officer for Target, was quoted in several reports. "You have to be able to operate at warp speed, and innovate very quickly."
David Newman, a former tech executive who worked for six years on Walmart’s online business, is running the Innovation Center for Target. Mr. Newman explained the location was valuable in helping Target work with partners such as eBay, Google, SapientNitro and other firms.
"Partnership is in our DNA and early-stage companies can sense that and are proving to be very willing to partner and co-develop," Mr. Newman told Reuters.
Target is looking to the center to help it improve its performance across channels. Among the items on its wish list are faster page loads and improved search on Target.com. The company is testing technology to support online ordering and in-store pickup. Looking further out, Target is also exploring augmented reality technology to help consumers find products they want around the store using a smartphone.
But it’s understood that not everything Target or its partners come up with the Innovation Center will work.
"Risk-taking is a part of the Target culture from a design standpoint," Ms. Jacob told The Wall Street Journal. "From a tech perspective, we are [also] willing to do that."
- [VIDEO] Our Heart’s @ San Francisco: Target Opens New Tech Center in Bay Area – YouTube
- Target goes hunting in Silicon Valley, following Wal-Mart – Reuters
- Target Opens Tech Innovation Center in SF – The Wall Street Journal (sub. required)
- Target dives into e-commerce with S.F. tech lab – San Jose Mercury News
- Why Don’t More Retailers Have Innovation Labs? – RetailWire
What should be the mission of a retail technology innovation lab? What are your expectations for Target’s Technology Innovation Center?