Target To Launch ‘Retail Accelerator’ To Develop New Tech, Omnichannel Strategies

The prolific chain looks to cement its tech innovator status in this latest entrepreneurial partnership with Techstars.

Target is teaming up with Techstars to launch a “Retail Accelerator” in Minneapolis, focusing on inviting innovative entrepreneurs to Target’s home city to generate new technologies that will improve the consumer shopping experience.

Startups who participate can have a vision for anything impacting retail, from supply chain management to data analytics to new strategies for integrating digital and in-store experiences. Essentially, Target is focused on today’s — and tomorrow’s — connected consumers, and it wants to become an innovator in terms of using new technology to foster growth and boost physical sales.


“The program is a three-month, immersive, mentorship-driven startup accelerator that will be based near Target’s headquarters in downtown Minneapolis,” a Target spokesperson told GeoMarketing. “The partnership will allow Target to grow innovation in its own backyard, including the ideas of our own team. It will also provide us a first chance at potential investment and acquisition opportunities. Target is hoping to find new, creative solutions in retail that can then be used to improve the guest shopping experience.”

This is Target’s first significant foray into the tech incubator realm, but the chain has shown an interest in innovative technology in the past; this spring, it debuted its Target Open House in San Francisco, crafting an “experience lab” to showcase its vision of the connected home and the Internet of Things. Its decision to immerse itself in tech development came during the companywide gathering for Target’s annual national fall marketing meeting, which was preceded the day before by news of the chain’s partnership with on-demand delivery service Instacart.

Target has also made omnichannel a priority in terms of how it approaches integrating the digital and the physical for consumers. Targeting consumers across devices throughout the all stages of the purchase process has led to better engagement and higher sales; as CEO Brian Cornell said in March, prioritizing digital strategies is key as omnichannel consumers spend much more than store-only visitors.

“Digital engagement doesn’t take away from our stores,” Cornell added, and Target’s growing tech focus indicates that the company is truly taking that message to heart.

It will be a while before Target is truly reaping the innovation benefits of the Retail Accelerator; the program won’t launch until next year, the company stated. But the move is a solid indicator that Target will continue to lean in to the world of mobile, IoT, and beyond.

“We know that technology will continue to revolutionize retail, and that Target’s future will be built on innovation,” says Casey Carl, Target’s chief strategy and innovation officer. “That’s why we’re so excited to partner with Techstars and invite the world’s most promising startups to work with Target right in our backyard.”

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Lauryn Chamberlain Lauryn Chamberlain @laurynchamberla

Lauryn Chamberlain is the Associate Editor of A New York City based journalist, she specializes in stories related to retail, dining, hospitality, and travel.