Target Searches for Innovation on the West Coast

Target opened a new office in San Francisco that will focus on finding and fostering partnerships for technological innovation.

Minneapolis-based Target Corporation is expanding its digital technology division with the addition of a new “Technology Innovation Center” in San Francisco.
The center is designed to provide Target with greater access to innovative technology start-ups and experts in e-commerce so that it can better integrate new technology into its operations.
The director of the new center, David Newman, said in a video about the tech center that the expansion will help Target identify emerging technologies: “For us, it’s how do we find those things that are just starting to be funded by the venture capital community. Test, learn, and bring that back to bear so we don’t fall behind in any of these spaces.”
Target follows General Electric and Wal-Mart, both of which opened new software development operations in the Bay Area during the last two years, according to the Wall Street Journal.
“The Technology Innovation Center allows Target to expand our technology team and collaborate more closely with our current Bay Area partners and forge relationships with local innovators and emerging technology firms,” Target spokesman Eddie Baeb told Twin Cities Business.
In addition to seeking out innovators, the center will also develop its own technological breakthroughs, the company said. “It’s kind of like this idea of having a start-up within a larger corporation,” Shamim Imani, one of the product managers at the new office, said in the video.
The new office will focus on “core commerce” initiatives like speeding up the company’s navigation on its website. However, it is also experimenting with concepts like “augmented reality,” which would allow costumers to digitally navigate and shop store aisles and using their smartphones.
The new center was built in partnership with tech, marketing, and design agency SapientNitro, a division of Boston, Massachusetts-based Sapient Corporation.
“We’re looking at different ways to do things that allow us to drive some of the experimentation a lot sooner, a lot of prototyping, and a lot of early-stage testing,” Jason Welsh, vice president of SapientNitro, said in the video.
About 20 people work in Target’s new open office space. “You’ve got technology people sitting beside data scientists sitting beside product managers, truly working together,” Welsh said.
Target has committed significant energy to digital projects this past year. For example, it recently began testing a new media streaming service with its own employees. Dubbed “Target Ticket,” the software allows users to watch movies and TV shows from their home computer, similar to Netflix or Hulu. The site offers instant access to 15,000 titles. In addition to Netflix and Hulu, Target joins Amazon, Apple, Wal-Mart, and Toys ‘R Us in the online video player industry.
Target has also recently developed partnerships with technology giants. In May, it partnered with Facebook to launch a new website called “Cartwheel,” which allows bargain hunters to interact and shop via Facebook. Target also partnered with Google and eBay to offer same-day delivery services, according to the Wall Street Journal.
And in April, Target partnered with tech magazine Wired in an agreement to feature an in-store and online assortment of tech gadgets selected by the magazine’s editors.
Minneapolis-based Target is Minnesota’s second-largest public company based on revenue, which totaled $71.9 billion for the fiscal year that ended February 2. It operates 1,808 stores—1,784 in the United States and 24 in Canada.