Target Innovation Chief: Mobile Is King, Stores a Vital Asset

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 past 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 insights.

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 pilot [programs] 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 fulfillment channel and gathering place," he said. "It's about creating moments of serendipity and not using technology for the sake 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, listening 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.

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