Visitors to this year's South by Southwest conference in Austin, Texas enjoyed a scholastic playground where thought leaders and tastemakers came together for a whirlwind week of inspiring conversation, outstanding stage performances and unexpected experiences.

All of the above was captured in Target’s event space at the Fast Company Grill. Known as the Tarcade, the interactive red and white room featured retro video games, customized cocktails and visits by notables including FourSquare founder Dennis Crowley and rapper Lupe Fiasco. 

So what was a big-box retail brand doing at a tech conference? Casey Carl, Target’s president of Multichannel and senior vice president of Enterprise Strategy (pictured above), answered some burning questions from our Twitter and LinkedIn followers about how we’re using new and exciting technology to create a seamless shopping experience for guests.

What are the biggest challenges running a multichannel company? —@DettmanJR (via Twitter)
The biggest challenge is aligning some 365,000 Target team members around a common vision and ensuring they understand how the vision relates to their roles individually and the roles of their teams. Multichannel is a transformation—of retail and Target. In the midst of change, it’s important to be clear about who we are and where we are going. And it’s equally important to be sure every team member gets it and is onboard.

How are you differentiating Target’s online and brick-and-mortar experiences? —Michelle Van Horn (via LinkedIn)
We’ve always differentiated Target—whether in stores or online—by focusing on our guests. We will continue to do that, but it may look very different as technology drives new guest expectations. It will be critical to create a seamless and differentiated experience for guests.
 
We’re doing that by leveraging mobile to bring together the best of the physical and digital worlds to create an even better shopping experience. For example, through the Target app, you can build a shopping list on your phone before you arrive at a Target store, scan items through QR codes for product details or to purchase items online while in store, redeem electronic coupons, and even find your way around the store.

What criteria do you use to gauge the effectiveness of Target’s multichannel strategy? —Tim Tang (via LinkedIn)
Multichannel is about doing what’s right for our guests. Guests will tell us if we’re doing it right or not—through trips to our store, visits to Target.com, and ultimately sales. That’s really the key measurement. If we win it’s because we’re their store of choice, and that’s because we’ve done multichannel well.

Who inspires you? —Azizah D (via LinkedIn)
Personally, I take inspiration from many different places. I look to new thought leaders who are pushing for provocative ideas in various fields. I try to think how I can apply their learnings to Target and how I can apply them personally as a leader. I also gain inspiration from my kids—it’s fun to see the world through their eyes. It’s a great counterbalance to a business perspective.

How do you plan to leverage the multichannel approach to simplify the multichannel experience?  —Sarah Cutler (via LinkedIn)
Multichannel is all about simplification and creating a seamless and integrated guest experience across all Target channels—from our stores and Target.com to Facebook to Instagram and A Bullseye View, our online magazine. We’re aligning our entire organization around common goals.

Read more about Target’s visit to the SXSW conference or get the scoop at A Bullseye View, Target's online magazine.

TAGS: design & innovation , events , leadership , work culture , company values , guests , shopping experience , omnichannel

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