Target’s Online President Exits After Web Site Crash

Steve Eastman is the second Target executive to leave the company this month. His exit was announced the same day that the retailer's new e-commerce site crashed-although the company has said that the departure wasn't related to performance.

Target Corporation on Thursday said that Steve Eastman, president of Target.com, “has left the company to pursue other opportunities.”

The announcement comes less than two months after the Minneapolis-based retail giant, which had previously outsourced its online operations to Amazon.com, unveiled a new e-commerce Web site, which it manages in-house.

Shortly after the launch, customers began complaining about glitches, including issues with bridal and gift registries. Target apologized to some registry users and offered a discount on their next online purchase.

Fast-forward to September 13-the launch of Target's highly anticipated and limited-edition product line from Missoni, a family owned Italian high-fashion brand. The products sold out of most stores quickly, and the Web site crashed. Some orders were reportedly cancelled or delayed, prompting many customers to vent their frustrations on social media sites.

Media reports indicate that Target's site went down again for several hours on Thursday-the same day the company announced Eastman's exit. A Target spokesperson told the Star Tribune that Eastman's departure was not performance-related.

A recent Advertising Age story, which was released prior to news of Eastman's departure, suggested that the problems that have plagued Target's new Web site “may have Target execs wondering if its newfound freedom cost too much.” Ad Age also reported that throughout the transition to Target's new site, there's been friction between the company's marketing and technology departments.

Eastman is the second Target executive to depart this month: Chief Marketing Officer Michael Francis “elected to leave the company” and join Plano, Texas-based J.C. Penney as its president. Francis had been selected to lead Target's planned expansion into Canada, where the retailer intends to open 125 to 135 stores beginning in 2013.

Target hasn't announced replacements for either of the recently departed executives-both of whom left as the holiday shopping season, an important time for Target and other retailers, approaches.

Target serves customers at 1,767 stores and on its Web site. It is Minnesota's second-largest public company based on revenue, which totaled $67.4 billion in its most recently completed fiscal year.