Target's Cornell: Lilly Pulitzer was 'Black Friday in April'

Target CEO Brian Cornell is making media rounds and talking up Target's commitment to growing digital sales and engagement. He discusses high sales events, such as the popular Lilly Pulitzer for Target design partnership, and the retailer's lower free shipping threshold.

Earlier this month, Target (NYSE:TGT) lowered its free shipping threshold to a $25 minimum, a move Cornell described as "Christmas in June" to the Minneapolis Star Tribune. The company's high-profile Lilly Pulitzer partnership is also contributing to Target's renewed relationship with shoppers. The Lilly line sold out in mere minutes and crashed Target's website. Cornell described the event as "Black Friday in April."

Cornell spoke at Re/code's Code Conference last week about the company's plans to adopt more secure payment methods, including the future possibility of adopting Apple Pay, the importance of chip-and-PIN cards, competing with Amazon, and a possible delivery partnership with ridesharing app Uber.

The retailer plans to grow its digital business by 40 percent in 2015, through both online and mobile programs.

"I want to make sure our guests and our entire organization know how committed we are to digital," Cornell said at the conference. "We put up that 40 percent figure to show that we're all in. We're bringing in talent and great engineering to elevate the online experience."

Cornell said he has discussed Apple Pay with Apple CEO Tim Cook, but is first focused on transitioning the retailer's systems to accept the new chip-and-PIN cards before the October 2015 deadline.  "Once we finish [chip-and-PIN], we'll be open-minded [about other payment systems]," he said.

But while Target is heavily focused on digital, Cornell believes the omnichannel shopper gives the retailer its competitive edge. He paid Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) an unexpected compliment, giving credit to the company for inventing online retail, but said: "Our most profitable and our most valuable guest is one who shops with us both online and in the store. Once [the guests] experience the store and recognize we can meet their needs online, that relationship really starts to grow."

*An earlier version of this story appeared in FierceRetail's sister publication, FierceRetailIT.

For more:
-See this Target Bullseye article
-See this Re/code article
-See this Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal article
-See this CNBC article
-See this StarTribune article

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