Target gets serious about its digital transformation

Target (NYSE:TGT) has formed a digital advisory group to assist as it tries to fight back from the very damaging data breach and mismanaged Canadian market entry. The Minneapolis-based retailer has enlisted technology executives from outside the traditional retail space to help chart a path along its digital transformation.

Pointing to a recent Deloitte study identifying digital interactions with brands as influencing more than $1 trillion in retail sales, Target has declared digital transformation one of its top three priorities.

"We need to accelerate our digital transformation and become a leading omnichannel retailer," said interim CEO John Mulligan during a recent earnings call. "To do this, we will move quickly to become more flexible in how we serve our guests, eliminating barriers that prevent them from shopping with us where and when they want."

The council consists of four leaders from tech companies: CEO and OkCupid founder Sam Yagan, Orbitz Worldwide's Roger Liew, Bain Capital Ventures' Ajay Agarwal and Accompani CEO/former Google Analytics lead Amy Chang.

The council will help accelerate innovation and guide Target's digital strategies and plans to use technology to enhance and transform the experience for Target shoppers, both online and in stores.

Target has begun testing same-day delivery and plans to roll out the service next month in parts of Boston, Miami and Minneapolis. Shoppers in these three markets will be able to sign up for the service via Target's website where the retailer is offering a $10 delivery option on orders placed before 1:30 p.m. Qualifying items will be delivered between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. the same day.

Bringing in talent from outside the company is a bold and needed move. Target is known for being a staid organization, one that largely promotes from within and rarely wanders from its well-trod path. In the past, that has been a key component of its success. Of late, it's a fatal flaw.

But Target's board of directors has moved with lightning speed for a company of this size: driving out the CEO who presided over the recent decline, shuffling top executives in multiple departments and aggressively introducing new digital initiatives — like this advisory council — to help get the retailer back on track.

Gone is CIO Beth Jacob, under whose watch the data breach occurred. Gone is CEO Gregg Steinhafel and Tony Fisher, head of Target Canada, the division that lost nearly $1.6 billion its first year.

Retail is changing rapidly and the fact that Target is initiating rapid change and seeking advice from a group of technologists is a good sign. 

For more:
-See this Target blog post
-See this FierceRetail story

Related stories:
Target CMO responds to employee rant
Target CEO Gregg Steinhafel to step down immediately
Target: Timeline of a data breach
Target's data breach is a story with long legs
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