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Target Creates Digital Advisory Council

Move is part of the mass retailer's efforts to accelerate its digital transformation.

Target Corp. on Wednesday said it has formed a Digital Advisory Council as part of its efforts to accelerate its digital transformation.

The mass retailer, which has been struggling of late, has come under criticism for not innovating around technology quickly enough and for problems with its Web site, including the data breach that impacted millions of consumers last holiday season. The panel of technology industry leaders will help guide Target’s omnichannel strategies, push the company to innovate faster and discover new ways to leverage technology to enhance the customer experience, both online and in stores.

The council includes experts with varied tech backgrounds. Its members are Ajay Agarwal, managing director of Bain Capital Ventures; Amy Chang, chief executive officer and cofounder of Accompani, who formerly led Google Analytics; Roger Liew, chief technology officer of Orbitz Worldwide, and Sam Yagan, ceo of the Match Group and ceo and founder of OkCupid.

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“We believe this council can play an important role in Target’s digital transformation — one of our top priorities as a company,” said Casey Carl, president of omnichannel, Target. “This new group is bringing their tremendous talents and experience to help guide Target’s strategies and tactics. They’re also providing fresh, disruptive ideas that will help us reinvent the Target run for tomorrow’s guests.”

Target’s e-commerce platform has been criticized for years, dating back to the launch of Missoni for Target in September 2011 when the retailer’s Web site collapsed under the weight of orders.

The council will meet quarterly with Carl and others driving Target’s omnichannel strategies, including target.com and mobile teams. Council members will serve two-year terms, with an optional third year. They’ll also be called upon to provide guidance on various topics and to help Target connect with other tech leaders.

In addition to forming the new council, Target is beefing up its internal digital talent with plans to hire at least 50 software engineers this year for target.com and mobile product teams. The engineers will be primarily based in Minneapolis, where they will work as part of the company’s new digital product teams. Some new engineers will be based in Target’s San Francisco office.

Like many companies, Target opened an office for technology. It’s believed to be smaller than Wal-Mart Stores Inc.’s @Walmart Labs in San Bruno. Wal-Mart recently said it’s opening a technology center in Sunnyvale, Calif., with about 500 employees and plans to double that in the next few years. Wal-Mart has also been more aggressive than Target on the acquisitions front.

In the past year, Target launched a number of successful digital initiatives, including the mobile coupon app Cartwheel, Target Subscriptions and Store Pickup, which allows guests to buy online at target.com and pick up in a store. Target is enhancing and expanding these services while also beginning to test offerings like same-day delivery and the ability to ship online orders from stores.

“Target is pursuing an aggressive omnichannel agenda and we want to go faster,” said Carl. “We’re confident that efforts such as creating the council and adding new engineering talent to our organization will help us achieve our goal of becoming a leading omnichannel retailer.”