Target innovation chief: Mobile is king, stores a vital asset in customer experience

May 18, 2016 | by Judy Mottl

Target intends to keep investing heavily in customer experience technology, but mobile is playing a critical role.

"We believe mobile is truly amazing," Casey Carl, chief strategy and innovation officer for Target, said during a fireside chat this week at ShopTalk in Las Vegas.

The chain, however, isn't going to let mobile strategies detract from the in-store experience.

"Stores are as vital today as ever before. We have to up our game to stay relevant," Carl said.

He noted that the retailer's mobile strategy is providing a “meteoric rise," with $3 billion in sales from its mobile app Cartwheel.

"We need to make sure we design around that," he said.

Carl's insight on Target's mobile and customer experience plans comes within days of criticism from analysts given recent revenue insight.s.

Revenue for the most recent quarter hit $16.20 billion, a bit of a drop from last year's $17.12 billion. Store sales rose 1.2 percent, according to a CNBC report, but analysts were expecting a 1.6 percent growth.

The latest earning insight prompted a big dip in Target stock price, with a 9.3-percent drop.

Carl pointed out several pilots taking place to spur consumer interest and in-store sales. He said Target views its stores as a community gathering place for consumers and that stores  aren't just a place to display products.

"Stores are a strategic asset but they are also a fulfilment channel and gathering place," he said. "It's about creating moment of serendipity and not using technology for the sack of technology."

The priorities moving forward is not to create a digital experience but a "greater experience — period."

"We are all about listening to consumers, listing to guests on how to make the in-store and the mobile experience better. We will continue to listen to consumers to remove the friction," he said.

On the technology front

On the technology front, Target is s focused on shoring up multiple platforms simultaneously.

"We need to know our customer and our customers need to know that we know them,"  Carl said.

A big aspect to that is helping store associates' ability to help customers. Target strives to ensure associates understand the customer experience as a customer themselves and play a role in identifying what's working and what's not working.

"We let guests lead us, spend time listening to their needs and seeing the friction points. Then the [technology] investment follows," said Carl.

The Target leader believes if the retailer can remove the distractions in the consumer experience the growth will come.

"We won't invest prematurely, it's not about chasing technology for technology sake. Mobile at this point is playing a 100 percent role. Every consumer is different so we have to make it a truly one on one engaging experience."


Topics: Consumer Behavior, Customer Experience, Department Stores, eCommerce, Financial News, Marketing, Merchandising, Mobile Retail, Omnichannel / Multichannel, Online Retailing, Retail - General, Technology

Companies: Target


Judy Mottl / Judy Mottl is an experienced editor, reporter and blogger who has worked for top media including AOL, InformationWeek and InternetNews. She’s written everything from breaking news to in-depth trends. She loves a great pitch so email here, follow on Twitter and connect on LinkedIn.
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