Target has been largely criticized for lagging behind other retailers in terms of technology and innovation.
The Minneapolis-based chain, however, has an outpost in Bangalore, which is known as the Silicon Valley of India. Target chose Bangalore as the home of Target India and its Target Accelerator program, in the hope of mining the tech capital for big ideas. The Accelerator program was established earlier this year as a four-month incubator for fledgling tech companies. Participants in the program were charged with bringing innovative ideas to Target across five areas: search, content, data, social and mobile.
According to Target, hundreds of start-ups applied to the program. Five were chosen and given the opportunity to develop their ideas at Target’s Bangalore office with access to mentors, tools, resources and operational support. The start-ups include Turnaround Innovision, which generates 3-D images for online catalogues and is being tested in select categories online. MuHive’s social customer relationship management has an automated workflow to manage social conversations. MuHive is being tested as a solution for outbound social-marketing priorities. Konotor mobile user engagement is being tested in several Target stores to improve real-time communications with headquarters. Unbxd, a New Age search solution for e-commerce, will be tested for select online search queries. Finally, InstaClique’s social widget for online retail will be tried out on one of Target’s online platforms. One of the mentors, Jaxa Gohil, said the products of the Accelerator program could have an impact on Target’s bottom line by elevating the shopping experience and improving productivity.
Navneet Kapoor, president and managing director of Target India, said, “We’re excited to be working with the start-up ecosystem in Bangalore to help create innovative omnichannel solutions that can enhance the Target shopping experience. The first batch of Target’s Accelerator program included a great group of start-ups that have made tremendous progress in maturing and testing their products. We’re excited to be tapping into the best minds around us to develop our digital transformation and transformation into an omnichannel retailer.”
Target said it will incubate a second group of start-ups later this year. This time, the retailer will be looking for ideas in the areas of digital, omnichannel technologies and analytics.