Keri Jones Head Shot

RFID: New Tag Technology Will Elevate Target’s Guest Experience

A Bullseye View “Perspectives” is a forum for Target’s top executives to share their point of view on everything from industry trends to best business practices. Keri Jones, Executive Vice President, Global Supply Chain and Operations, discusses Target’s plan to start using RFID technology.

It’s a really exciting time to be in retail, thanks to extraordinary developments in technology that have made it possible to create, build and scale new retail concepts at unprecedented speeds.

Case in point: Target’s award-winning deals app, Cartwheel, which in just two years since launch has racked up 14 million downloads, generated $1 billion in promotional sales for Target and saved guests more than $200 million.

But not all retail technology comes to life brightly on our mobile phones. Sometimes it’s just working its magic in the background to provide people with seamless, stress-free shopping experiences.

In fact, developing the kinds of behind-the-scenes technologies that quietly help Target stay ahead of guests’ changing behaviors can be the most exciting. Technologies like Radio Frequency Identification (RFID)—which I’m thrilled to announce Target will roll out later this year.

Infographic that explains how RFID technology works

We’re now working with key vendors on a fast-tracked timeline to begin inserting a “smart label” on price tags that will help Target improve our inventory accuracy and enhance our ability to keep stores in stock.

You probably wouldn’t notice these new RFID tags on your own, necessarily, but that’s the point. This unobtrusive but significant technology will increase efficiencies by providing greater visibility into our inventory. That means guests will better be able to find out whether we’ve got the item at their Target store or at others nearby. We also expect RFID to help us better fulfill online orders placed for store pickup, which already account for 15 percent of Target.com purchases.

Our RFID rollout will start in a small number of stores late this year, then expand to all Target stores in 2016. The program will include many of our key categories like Women’s, Baby and Kids’ apparel and home décor – making this one of the largest RFID projects in retail. We’re starting with these areas because guests love our style offerings and because they are some of our most popular store pickup items.

We’re so passionate about the power and potential of RFID that Target is a sponsor of the RFID Lab at Auburn University, which opens its new facility this week. Together with the staff and students at Auburn, we’ll explore additional ways that RFID tags can enhance the shopping experience.

My team and I are thrilled about technology’s considerable role in upping Target’s operations, and in particular, bringing near-complete store inventory accuracy within reach for the first time with RFID. Because at the end of the day, the technology we use to manage the supply chain helps ensure our guests find what they’re looking for.

As more and more of our guests shop us online, they expect a great, seamless experience between digital and stores. And adopting technology like RFID is one big step Target is taking to make sure we deliver.

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