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Target Undertakes Intensive Innovation Push


Innovate or die is apparently the theme of 2017. And given the state of some retail categories, the need for change is evident.

In that vein, Target, it seems, is looking for the next big idea.

The big-box retailer has already thrown its old planograms and product out the window in an effort to regain some of the luster that once had shoppers bragging they shopped at “Tar-zhay.”

Now the company has teamed up with BCG Digital Ventures for a 14-week brainstorming session it’s calling an “innovation sprint.”

Five Target employees have been handpicked to work with Digital Ventures designers, engineers and investors to dream up new ideas that will translate into value for the chain’s shoppers. The company is specifically looking for on-brand and actionable innovations. This stands in contrast to previous innovations the company shelved early this year after determining they deviated too far from Target’s goals. Among those that had to go? A store with a bot workforce, reportedly.

The innovation push should come as good news to those who question whether Target is going far enough with its makeover, which will consist of 12 new private-label collections and easier to shop stores. At the time when the refreshed assortment began to roll out, some urged the retailer to go further, possibly through acquisition. One month later, the company announced plans to acquire a last-mile delivery business.

The partnership with Digital Ventures will ideally result in tools Target can use to better fight rivals Walmart and Amazon.

“This is a unique partnership with tremendous potential—and we’re excited about the passion, inventiveness and entrepreneurial commitment being brought to bear from Target and Digital Ventures,” said Anthony Koithra, partner, BCG Digital Ventures.

Each Target employee is working with a team of Digital Ventures experts in their home offices. But first, they’re scattered across the country, taking the pulse of shoppers in six cities.

Concurrent with this announcement, Target is also showcasing its most recent advancements as part of the company’s fall employee meeting. The showcase includes new self-checkout technology and a virtual design tool for home décor inspiration, according to the Star Tribune newspaper.

“Most of the ideas will see the light of day,” Mike McNamara, Target’s executive vice president, chief information and digital officer, said of the projects. “Just one or two are pigs flying — a little far out.”