Target's West Stringfellow dishes on tech strategy

Target (NYSE:TGT) has been at the forefront of retail technology, rolling out new mobile initiatives and cultivating a culture of innovation with incubators in both Silicon Valley and Minneapolis. One year after joining the company, the head of Target's top-secret Goldfish project opens up about good and the bad of working at Target. 

West Stringfellow joined Target as an entrepreneur-in-residence and now holds the title of VP of internal innovation and operations. "I have worked at some of the largest, fastest-growing and most innovative companies in the world – like Amazon, PayPal and Rosetta Stone," he said on Target's blog, A Bullseye View. "I'd done the big company thing, was on a 10-month sabbatical traveling around the world, and the thought of going to a 50-year old physical retailer in Minneapolis sounded like lifestyle and career suicide."

But Stringfellow was won over by those he met and the creative culture he found. Now in Minneapolis, he oversees three projects – the still undefined Goldfish, building the first-ever retail accelerator with Techstars, and building the internal innovations and operations team with the mandate of building new businesses inside of Target.

Much of the focus is on in-store technology.

"Customers in North America still spend more than 92 percent of their retail dollars in physical stores," said Stringfellow. "In terms of brand, Target was just ranked No. 6 of the top 100 millennial brands, placing No. 1 among physical retailers. We have a growing executive team that is dead-set on maintaining our position while also building new sources of growth."

While the culture and team at Target are focused on innovation, there are some antiquated processes in place that Stringfellow is working to identify and fix. "All in all, the things that are negative about Target are far less than competitive companies, cultures and environments," said.

Target has been staffing up Stringfellow's projects and growing new departments. A recent call for startups garnered more than 500 responses for the 10 open positions in the Target + Techstars accelerator program.

For more:
- see this A Bullseye View blog

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