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December 19, 2023

Target Applying AI for the Holidays and Beyond

Posted In: Retail Articles

Target is getting an AI assist this holiday season, and the company is using it to boost capabilities across a number of areas, according to a blog post by Brett Craig, the retailer’s executive vice president and chief information officer.

“Tech plays an indispensable role in ensuring that Target is at its best during the holidays,” Craig stated in the blog post. “From every store transaction and online order to each drive-up interaction and guest service center call, the list goes on and on. And technology powers all of it. More and more, that includes AI-driven solutions, which are instrumental to how we deliver joy for our guests throughout the season and all year round. AI helps us ensure our guests find the holiday gifts and essentials they need by forecasting product demand and keeping items from going out of stock. It even helps us predict and correct when a store has an unknown out-of-stock item: something that could otherwise disappoint guests during the busiest time of the year. And further up the supply chain, we use AI to ensure inventory is in the right locations so we can quickly and efficiently respond as demand fluctuates.”

Artificial intelligence also helps in personalizing the consumer shopping experience, Craig added.

“We do it via Target Circle, our loyalty program, and on Target.com, helping guests find the products and deals that are most relevant to them,” he said.”That includes connecting our guests to the brands they love through product ad placements through our retail media business, Roundel. If you opened my Target app, for instance, you’d most likely see, thanks to AI, offers related to vinyl records and Favorite Day snack mixes.”

The application of technology in general, and AI specifically, is growing and is a driving factor in the evolution of the retail sector.

“The role of tech within the retail industry is growing rapidly, and the opportunity to use transformative tools like AI to power Target’s business today and into the future is really energizing,” Craig noted. “We’ve been using AI for many years to support our team and drive speed and efficiency across all our operations, everything from our supply chain and inventory management systems all the way to applications in the checkout lines in our stores and on our website and app. But what’s most exciting is how it helps us bring a little joy to our guests as they’re shopping at Target during the holidays and all year round.”

Target has built out its systems in the recognition that technology can quickly create new opportunities that are best captured by structures that can quickly adapt. 

“Maximizing the impact of AI requires agility and flexibility,” Craig said. “That’s why, many years ago, we began building an infrastructure that allows us to move quickly and efficiently and to embrace the incredible rate of change made possible by AI. This solid foundation, which we continue to build on each day, allows our team to continue focusing on what’s next for our business and our guests.”

The application of technology in the case of customers is multifaceted, focusing on establishing emotional connections.

“AI is driving the inspiration and ease that comes with a personalized shopping experience, regardless of when, where or how guests are shopping. And it’s at the heart of the tools that give our store teams more time to deliver the Target magic that drives so much guest loyalty and love,” Craig pointed out.

On the employee side, the company is using technology to give staffers tools that help them better serve customers and guide them to more satisfactory outcomes.

“Every day, I see the amazing work our team is doing as part of the growing role of tech in a constantly changing retail industry,” Craig maintained. “It’s an opportunity that we not only embrace but are well positioned to take advantage of as our talented team helps shape the future of retail.

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