Leveraging Diverse Perspectives and Improving Lives through Data Science and AI

Target's presenters at the 2020 Grace Hopper Celebration (Koel Ghosh, Jacob Yunker, Luisa Polania Cabrera),

Target continues to emerge as a data science leader. Whether it’s greater personalization or a nimbler supply chain, our engineers and data scientists help bring to life Target’s next big idea faster and smarter.

The 2020 Grace Hopper Celebration (Sept 29–Oct 2) gives attendees a glimpse into some of the most exciting work to result from our investments in data science and technology—and the women technologists who are propelling Target into the future.

This year, there are two presentations – learn more at jobs.target.com/gracehopper:

DevOps + Data Science: Reduce Time to Data Driven Decisions
Presented by Koel Ghosh, Lead Data Scientist, and Jacob Yunker, Lead Engineer and Software Engineering Coach

Shop the Look: Fashion Compatibility Prediction for Complementary Product Recommendation
Presented by Luisa Polania Cabrera, Principal AI Scientist, and Yiran Li, Lead Data Scientist

Read on for a glimpse at the fascinating content from the Dev Ops + Data Science presentation—plus insights on why this work matters, how it both delights and challenges those who choose it, and how Target’s commitment to diverse thought partnerships gives us an advantage from the inside out.

Can you give us a “sneak peek” of your presentation at the 2020 Grace Hopper Celebration?

Koel Ghosh: Our presentation is based on work we did in December 2018 to launch an interactive dashboard on the Target Application Platform. The solution delivered on many aspects, including accessibility, scalability and customizability, and enhanced my productivity as a data scientist. Coaches taught team members about it and it was well adopted. And we didn’t realize when we submitted the work to the Grace Hopper Celebration that the solution stack also increases productivity in remote work environments, which is so very valuable and necessary during the ongoing pandemic.

Jacob Yunker: This joint effort arose from the need to create a custom data visualization that was scalable and easily shareable with end-users—all while reducing as much engineering maintenance as possible. We have data viz solutions at Target like Domo, but they don’t always do what a data scientist needs, or they don’t do it easily. Many data scientists can make their own app, but then there are issues around where to host it for business partners to easily access it, as well as how much long-term maintenance is involved with owning a custom app. What started as an experiment has since been repeated many times by other data scientists. In fact, the solution is now a training that my team hosts multiple times a year. Having worked for years in data science and now being a Software Engineering Coach, I love helping bridge the two worlds of data science and software engineering.

Can you share a fun fact about Target’s data science team?

Koel Ghosh: It includes folks from many disciplinary backgrounds—computer scientists, physicists, mathematicians, statisticians, etc. In fact, I am an economist by training, and one of the few social scientists here.

Jacob Yunker: It’s such an innovative space, with so many talented folks trying out new ways to bring data into business decisions. As I coach, I continue to feel so fortunate to work with this organization. It’s so energizing to help data scientists bring amazing ideas to life using patterns that are as robust, scalable and automated as possible. My personal belief is that a data scientist’s time is best spent doing data science. Any necessary engineering should support this effort, not hinder it.

Why is data science important at Target?

Koel Ghosh: Data Science enables Target’s purpose to come alive more easily and efficiently. We get to leverage data, algorithms and technology to make life easier for both guests and team members. We save them time so that they can reach out for more meaning and more joy.

Can you describe a time when Target incorporated diverse perspectives to influence a project outcome?

Jacob Yunker: I see many examples of this, and my partnership with Koel over the years is a great one. We have different backgrounds, strengths and perspectives. By partnering on that original experiment (the basis of our presentation), we have realized so much value, not only from that product, but in many others based on the same solution. I don’t think this would have been possible without two people with different experiences working together to try something new.

What do you like most about data science? What do you find most challenging?

Koel Ghosh: It’s a wonderful spectrum of varied activities involving data coming from many guest-related, business and operational areas. You go from creating a simple report, a dashboard, or an ad hoc analysis, to standing up products that do automatic decision-making at scale. It also involves testing, and contributions of thought from so many disciplines. All of this collectively helps inform better business decision-making and processes that serve our guests. There is no end to the learning, and there are so many ways to approach a solution. I came in with a strong statistics and economics background, and the area that I have leaned into and learned the most about being a more effective data scientist is in computational efficiency, i.e. how to get things to run very quickly. Just keeping up is challenging. The tech stack or methods that serve Data Science evolve so fast. It can be overwhelming if you aren’t disciplined about it.

Jacob Yunker: Based on my time working in Data Science, I think my answer to both questions is the same: The questions we are trying to answer are both enjoyable and challenging. Every data science product I worked on had a very interesting problem to solve, and there were so many approaches to think through and try. Of course, some approaches work better than others, and it’s always a learning experience.

Can you describe some of the leading-edge machine learning AI technologies you’re working with?

Luisa Polania Cabrera (co-presenter, Shop The Look): There are many frameworks and libraries in the AI field, and they are always evolving. My team heavily uses PyTorch and TensorFlow for the development of deep learning models. PyTorch is an open source machine learning library for Python based on the Torch machine learning library that allows for fast and flexible experimentation. It originated in Facebook’s AI research group. Similarly, TensorFlow is an open source machine learning framework that is easy to use and deploy across a variety of platforms. It was created by Google for supporting its research and production objectives.

Finally, what advice would you share with someone considering a career in data science at Target?

Jacob Yunker: Be curious, humble and open to change. Learning is a life-long thing, so you won’t always know the answer, and things can change in the blink of an eye. Challenging yourself to be OK with this is so important for success. Partner with people who complement your skillset and have different perspectives. Diverse teams build better products!

Curious about a career at Target? Watch these short testimonials from our Technology & Data Sciences team, or explore opportunities near you at target.com/careers.

Mining for Local Tech Talent with an Intern Program that Works for Them

Target recognizes that many of tomorrow’s best and brightest technology professionals are headed for non-traditional engineering education paths including community and commuter colleges–many of which are right in our own back yard. So we set out to design a flexible spring internship program—but this was no typical program.

In order to cast a wider net into tech talent sources we hadn’t previously considered, this internship had to offer part-time schedules and tailored training and onboarding to fit busy lives with competing priorities like jobs and family commitments.

The goal of the internship is to close the experience gap with exposure to a real-world corporate environment while building technical skills and providing the professional development and mentorship that prepares students for positions in Target’s Technology Leadership Program.

In the quest for a pilot partner, Target considered local colleges based on curriculum content, courses of study, student demographics, success rates and faculty interactions. As a result, Metropolitan State University (Metro State) emerged as an ideal choice as our initial partner, with a goal of expanding to additional talent sources in the future.

Half of Metro State’s students are people of color, 62% are from lower income households and 61% are the first generation in their families to attend college. Further, the average Metro State student is 31 years old with a household, a job and other obligations. The school achieves comparable success rates while maintaining academic rigor, and has the lowest-cost bachelor degrees of any university in Minnesota.

 

For more on the program, we sat down with Metro State alum and Campus Champion, Dan, and program sponsor, Kraig, to understand what makes this internship so uniquely promising in a time of unprecedented demand for top tech talent.

How is Target’s internship program with Metro State different from others?

Dan: First, this internship takes place in the spring. Second, we prioritize accommodating students’ time. Since most students are still attending class, we are flexible with hour requirements so students can maintain their studies. We create a set of core days for interns to be on site, and then leave the remaining schedule to them and their manager.

Competition for talent in technology is fierce. Why is Target taking the opportunity to foster home-grown talent?

Dan: This program provided us an opportunity to explore new avenues for untapped talent. Before this partnership, local students may not have immediately thought of Target as a place they could start their career in technology, and Target didn’t realize the caliber of students we already had access to in our local market. Through the program, we’ve unlocked a mutual benefit to both these amazing students and Target. We value the diverse perspectives they bring to Target and the great contributions they make to their teams.

What do you find most exciting or rewarding about seeing the first class of Metro State interns grow at Target?

Dan: I am excited that we’re recognizing the talent coming out of this school. The student body is very motivated and ready to jump in and contribute. I look forward to growing this partnership.

Kraig: I have loved seeing the passion this group of interns brought to Target. They all jumped into their experience on day one just like they were full-time team members and never looked back. I believe we are at the start of a very good relationship here.

 

For the intern point of view, we chatted with Polly and Jack – two engineers who participated in the Metro State internship and are now members of our Technology Leadership Program.

What has surprised you most about this unique internship program?

Polly: The amount of support I received during my internship was phenomenal. I was surprised by how easily I was able to network with members of my team, as well as upper management and senior leaders. And I felt encouraged to take on challenging problems and improve my confidence as a young professional.

Jack: The focus and emphasis on learning and professional growth over productivity was most surprising. There were no expectations of me other than to learn and demonstrate growth in the topics I chose. I also had a say in the technologies I wanted to focus on.

Why was the structure of this program particularly beneficial or rewarding to you?

Jack: Taking time to focus on a specific area of the business, gaining hands-on development and operations experience, and deepening my understanding of Target’s infrastructure was incredibly rewarding. In my first few weeks in the Technology Leadership Program, I was already making connections and using tools that I had learned about during my internship. This program has done a lot to prepare me to be an even more successful engineer than I otherwise would have been.

Polly: Working by day and attending classes by night, I found that what I was learning during my internship was directly applicable to my school projects. This parallel correlation of events allowed for an easier transition from student life to being a full-time engineer.

What opportunities did Target provide for learning, growth and development?

Polly: Participating in groups like Target Women in Science and Technology (TWIST) and attending events such as Demo Day and begINNER Con have been great learning opportunities. It is inspiring to meet other engineers or product owners who are passionate about their work, and they offer a great way to network with others in technology at Target.

Jack: Even as an intern, I had access to the same learning resources as regular team members (Safari Books and Pluralsight) and as many internal talks and conferences as possible. From begINNER Con to the Lunch ‘n Learn events, there are a ton of avenues for developing your skills.

How have you developed your skills as a result of your internship experience?

Polly: I’ve become better at organizing my time and managing my projects. I have also improved my communication skills to ensure team expectations and objectives are met.

Jack: In the 15 years leading up to my new career at Target, I worked as a hairstylist with no background in tech aside from my undergrad and summer internship. I was indeed a novice. Right away, I challenged myself to ask a lot of questions. Even when I struggled to find the right one to ask, I still put my lack of knowledge out there and allowed myself to be vulnerable. I branched out and learned new languages like C#, Python and PowerShell. I became more familiar with Git and CI/CD, and conquered my fear of unit testing thanks to the amazing efforts of my team.

What was the highlight of the internship program experience for you?

Jack: The team I worked with and learned from. I was placed in a role that balanced learning both the development and operations-side of the business. Creating automation to support our operations and minimize downtime on POS systems in stores was quite fun, largely thanks to my team. My manager was also incredibly supportive throughout the process; giving me space and freedom to work on what interested me while also checking in often to make sure things were going well. And in the end I even walked away with some new friends that I’ve been able to hang out with outside of work.

How would you describe the culture at target?

Jack: Laid back. It’s one thing to tell your employees to bring their authentic selves to work. It’s another thing to actually mean it. I feel like I can be myself at work and ultimately, I’m judged on my performance and ability to grow in my role. Additionally, I feel like the growth mindset and “better every day” mentality is thoroughly embraced. You’re not expected to know everything, but you are expected to see those gaps as opportunities and show some willingness to learn.

Polly: Driven. Whether it be an individual or a team, it is clear that every employee is driven to define their own meaning of success and how to achieve their personal goals. I also love the work-life balance!

What would you tell someone considering a career in technology at Target?

Polly: Technology at Target is innovative, creative and progressive with a strong learning culture. As an employee within Target Technology Services (TTS), you will be able to develop your hard and soft skills while contributing to projects that support the company’s business ventures.

Jack: What are you waiting for? Target is such a large company, there is something here for everyone. You could spend an entire career here and never run out of things to learn.

 

Interested in learning, developing and contributing to our tech team? Learn more about our Software Engineering Internship – Spring Program, or explore all Technology & Data Sciences roles and apply today.

 

 

Meet our Data Sciences Team

EDABI team converses.

Target’s Data Sciences team employs a uniquely capable and brilliant team of engineers, data scientists and analysts. They’re responsible for creating the tools and data products that enable business partners to make sound, data-based decisions, and they help develop the technology that personalizes the guest experience—from product recommendations to relevant ad content.

The Pulse team sat down with three Data Sciences pros to find out what’s interesting and exciting about working with data at Target. Hear from Brindha, Senior Manager, Business Intelligence Engineering, Janet, Director, Data Sciences and Kristina, Principal Data Scientist on what it’s like to work on Target’s Data Sciences team.

What’s the most exciting or innovative project you’ve worked on recently? 

Janet: For the last year, we’ve been moving into computer vision, which is algorithms to understand images. Why is that important? We use it to algorithmically understand the images of our products, which in turn allows us to help guest find visually similar or complementary items as they shop. A lot of our products are very style based and since a picture is a worth a thousand words, if we understand what style a guest is interested in, we can create a far more customized, intuitive and relevant experience for them.

Brindha: Closed-loop reporting tells us about impressions and how much our ads are driving sales. We provide Marketing with the data points that help the company make sure their campaigns are planned properly, and which platforms to launch to reach the most number of guests. We help close the loop to report on campaign effectiveness to inform future campaigns. It’s pretty exciting and I can see an immediate impact on the business.

Kristina: We are working on our internal A/B testing tool. I’m giving UX feedback, taking what I do on a day-to-day basis, and turning it into a user interface. It’s almost three years in the making. We used to use a third party, and then we built our own tool which integrates with Target.com and apps. It’s exciting because when we started, we’d only use vendors for something this complex. With our own, custom-built tool we can run more tests and be more effective.          

What has surprised you most about your career with Target? 

Kristina: I’ve spent most of my career at Target, and the most surprising thing is the scope of the role, the opportunities and the different teams to support. During the first ten years, I was supporting two or three teams with different functions, never really doing the same thing twice, solving tons of different problems—and holistic problems versus an online only company. From Marketing, Merchandising to Finance, there are big financial decisions to make, and there are lots of areas where data plays an important role.

Brindha: I’m a data enthusiast, so the one thing that’s amazed me is the scale of the data that we’re working with—and it comes with an equally big responsibility. I want to build optimized products. Making sure that my team has a high-performing solution—this is part of the responsibility. We are a very fast paced retailer so we need to build high-performing optimal solutions for our business teams.

Janet: The importance of company culture and how that can fuel success. The culture of support, collaboration and team work has been a strong influence through my time at Target, and I’ve learned so much from it. While I’ve gained technical skills, I’ve also become a better team player. People really work together.

Speaking of culture, what do you enjoy most about the culture within data and technology teams at Target?

Brindha: The people are the best thing about Target. It feels very much like a family. We are very focused on our work, but we make our everyday life as fun as possible. For new projects, we always try to understand through the eyes of a guest: What do we want to see? What do we want to be served? Culture is especially important to me as a leader, and it’s so important to me at Target. We always work as a team, not in silos. We are one team at Target. That’s our mantra.

Janet: There is a real culture of curiosity and exploration so when you pair that with collaboration you have it going both ways—learning and teaching—and I think that’s really powerful. People are encouraged to explore and innovate. You’re encouraged to try stuff and to take smart risks. You’re not expected to necessarily do the same thing the same way over and over again.

Kristina: Generally, the culture is one where everyone wants to move fast. It’s a whole bunch of people interested in getting things done, but it’s not super hierarchical in terms of who responds to what—there’s always someone monitoring when you’ve got a question. It’s a lot of people who are excited about their work and what they bring to the table, and they openly share it rather than withholding. They’re driven to get the answers to the business teams faster. We’re moving fast in a good way. It’s about agility.

How does Target motivate and retain team members in your space?

Kristina: First of all, it’s just exciting work. We are invited to use creativity and build our skill set. For a lot of people, that’s important—you want to feel like you’re gaining skills rather than working repetitively. Target really does care about data and analytics as crucial to our success and believes that it’s an important investment in the company.

Janet: One big way we retain talent is the breadth of problems that team members get to work on. When a team member comes in, there are many different problems and projects to work on. After a team member has been here for a while, they can switch tracks and dig in on something else. There’s a lot of variety and opportunity to solve big problems. There are also opportunities for learning and new growth in terms of hopping onto new projects, but team members are also encouraged to learn and develop their skills.

Interested in a career in data and technology with Target? Explore opportunities at target.com/careers and apply today.

6 Reasons Why New Developers + Target Technology = People I Want to Work With

Throughout my career I’ve had the opportunity to work with many new Developers at Target. The problems they solve are just as diverse as their skills, background and expertise, but across each new Engineer are patterns that make them especially great to work with. Here are 6 reasons why they are leading technology at Target:

1. Hungry to learn new technologies – On my team we’re introducing new technologies all the time. Team Members new to the team are fearless to jump right in, figure it out, and become go to people for what they’ve learned. People like Danny who mastered Chef and Cassandra (and speaking about it this year at C* Summit); Matt who helped introduce the use of Packer, Consul, and Graphite; or Nick and Corey who’ve become go to people for infra as code techniques. They’re all perfect examples of tackling technologies and quickly becoming experts for the team.

2. Not afraid to question the norm to try and make things better – This guy, Alex, saw an opportunity to take a logging technology he mastered and applied it to our distribution centers outside of his normal work and without being asked to do it. He just saw the problem and jumped at the chance to make it better. It saved us a ton of money. He even wrote a blog about his experience and he spoke about it at a conference last month.

3. Not bashful to organize and lead – In many cases a new engineer’s only experience is in Agile methodologies, so they make great scrum masters. Katie is a person on our team who’s not afraid to step in, coordinate work across developers and clients, and use tools like Jira or GitHub issues to get the job done. She’s really good at it and sets a great example for others to follow.

4. Understand the importance of contributing back to open source – Hundreds of examples of this, so I just picked a random one to illustrate how second nature this is – Cody wants to make Chefspec better so he did. Not only Target benefits from Cody’s work here – the developer community gets the knowledge too. But so many people on the team understand that the benefit to the developer community will also be a benefit to Target in the long run as other ideas are shared. It’s just become the norm – I like that!

5. Create big change and pioneer it – Eddie helped create our internal wiki.target.com which currently has 145,995 articles and 1,676,841 edits by 16,987 users. Aaron launched the Target Tech blog. Jack created a Go web framework in use at Target. I also like how they do it without asking – they’re just drawn to it and make it happen!

6. Dive in, start coding, learn quickly – Here’s a super recent example: Ashley, Jiaqi, Katrina, and Alden — I’m looking in GitHub Enterprise and I can see they literally just joined it on June 24th and they’re already committing code and building a new API for api.target.com. They’re figuring out our dev standards, stack, Spring Boot, CI pipeline, ChatOps, etc. and they’re learning quickly!

Of course there are many more, but these are some of the reasons why I’m excited about the future of Engineering at Target.

Feed + Target

I hope by now you’ve seen that Target has partnered with Lauren Bush Lauren to bring a collection of products to shelves on June 30th. (FEED + Target is yet another example of Target’s commitment to giving back because the FEED + Target collaboration hopes to donate over 10 million meals through the FEED Foundation.) This collection has a ton of great items, some of which I was fortunate enough to help develop.

In some instances, PD+D teams will collaborate with design partners and help bring their product ideas to life or work through details. For Lauren’s collection, I worked on the bicycle, water bottles, iPhone 5 case, ceramic tumblers and baking dishes to name a few. At least, those are the products that have been made public at time of writing! Lauren is showing off the product in this video here.We were also lucky enough to meet Lauren and volunteer with her at a local food distribution center. Even Laysha Ward, our president of Community Relations, pitched in and helped out. Watch the video and look for the guy taping boxes. That’s me!

Working on the FEED USA + Target collaboration was an incredible growth experience for me and forced me outside my comfort zone. I’d never been responsible for development of bake ware, bicycles or water bottles, but I still needed to bring high quality product to market for our guest. Daunting as that seems, if you take this back to first principles, this is exactly what I do everyday – take partners into foreign and uncomfortable spaces to do something amazing. It seems counter-intuitive  but I could actually rely on experience because I did it when I worked on frames, and I did it when I worked on unmanned systems. Sure, the content was wildly different, but the underlying challenges and goals were the same.

Engineers out there, I really want you to hear me on that point. If you’re driven by creating great user experiences and products, be it in medical devices, software, or electronics, that skill set can be applied at Target. Even if you’re doing detailed hardware design, we’re still doing the same thing at the most basic level – solving problems and building things!

Interested in a career with Target? Learn more about opportunities in engineering or product design and development

From CAD to Ad

Product Design & Development delivers value to the corporation when we create products that delight our guests, and that they can’t find anywhere else. Unfortunately, the table frames that you saw in stores earlier this month were not unique in any way. They were old, tired, and frankly, weren’t delighting anyone. Furthermore, our guest had no reason to buy these at Target, because they could have gotten frames like these anywhere. As of this week, this has all changed! We just set close to 100% new table frames in the Room Essentials brand. Our new items are unique, exclusive to Target (’cause we designed them), deliver great style, great quality, and all at a tiny price point.

Now, with these items on the shelf, I want to show you some of the behind-the-scenes design process. Most interestingly, here is a complete set of 3D models I made when we were at the early stages of design.

  

I made these models almost a year ago when we were concepting new designs. This was a classic design exercise at Target – my design partner helped set the aesthetic while I defined the materials, detailed dimensions and created prototypes on our 3D printers. Over the course of the next three weeks, we played with the prototypes, collected feedback, revised the design and then sent it out for production.

Along the way, we had to overcome a few different challenges. I won’t describe them all, but to give you a look at the process, let’s follow how material for these designs evolved. First, the one on the bottom right was originally going to be aluminum. I had big plans for anodizing or applying a chemical film to register our seasonal colors. That was great, except that aluminum was tremendously expensive, and our manufacturers couldn’t efficiently execute that shape in aluminum. So, we looked to the oft-used polyvinylchloride; however, if you’ve ever seen a regular PVC frame, it looks cheap and disposable. They’re always glossy and they scratch easily. To solve this, I worked closely with our manufacturer to develop a brand new technique of finishing a PVC frame with a hard, matte surface – a technique that our manufacturer had never attempted previously.

Here we have an example of true end-to-end design where we went all the way from CAD (computer aided design) to Ad. We started with rough models, prototyped them, overcame a few production challenges and eventually set great product in the store. I know my last post (Full Circle) featured the weekly circular as well, but this highlights a very neat aspect of working in product design and development (PD&D) at Target.

Interested in a career with Target? Learn more about opportunities in engineering or product design and development

Full Circle

We made the cover! This is a big honor for our team because front cover space of the weekly ad is in such high demand.

In Product Design & Development, we start working on products almost a full year before they are scheduled to hit store shelves. (We designed the items in the above circular back in December and January of 2011/2012.) Because I’ve been in my job for about 18 months, I am now regularly seeing things my team created in stores and in ads. In fact, in just over two weeks time, everything in the picture frame section at Target will be the work of my team – nearly each of the 350+ items. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, this is because of a major overhaul on this aisle, and the finishing touches will hit stores in just a few weeks. Of course, I will be right here with pictures, showing it off and encouraging you to go out and take a look for yourself.

Our designs are finally in guest hands and in their homes; they’re coming full circle.  Seeing your product being used and enjoyed by a consumer is a constant motivator for any engineer. I think it’s true whether you’re designing airplanes or picture frames, because the joy is knowing the work, thought and effort you put into something is being appreciated by someone else. Any engineer who’s known this feeling also understands it’s a bit of an addiction. A little positive guest feedback, and you need it again and again.

We got a hit of that feeling this week when Dana at housetweaking.com sent some love our way for our new fall picture frames. It’s so exciting to see something you designed being used and enjoyed, whatever it is, and especially if someone’s kind words end up on the internet. Engineering and designing products for a retailer gives us the chance to experience that feeling regularly because we touch thousands of products and reach millions of guests every year. I admit though, it’s a bit humbling and I feel the weight of that visibility when we send products to stores. It’s almost a higher call to performance, because you know just how many people will use and experience your design – success and failure of your work are extremely public. This stands in stark contrast to other industries where you may spend a career developing a small piece of one assembly that may only be used by a handful of people (granted, the stakes can be higher in those industries – rockets, per se). The reach of your work is yet another interesting point of being an engineer at Target.

Interested in a career with Target? Learn more about opportunities in engineering or product design and development

Line Reviews

3 cities, 4 days.

With no more than 24 hours in any one city, I spent all of last week on travel for Fall 2013 frames development. I visited some of our best vendor partners along with the rest of my team – sourcing, design and our buyers. We call these meetings “line reviews” and they’re an important touch point in our development process. Almost 6 weeks ago, we sent our vendors direction for next Fall’s products. By direction, I mean designs for all our frames – everything on how our frames should look, feel and function. We prescribe materials, assembly techniques, aesthetics, shape, etc. so the vendor can create products specifically for Target. Vendors use the time following release of product direction to create prototypes that we can see at our line review.

Often times, vendors will create 2 to 3 times as many products as we have room for, so we need to do a little pre-screening during the meeting. This is a highly collaborative time for the team as everyone has to agree on what looks right (designers), what’s made right (engineers), what will sell (buyers) and what we can afford and source (sourcing). Everyone reviews the prototypes together and contributes based on his/her area of expertise. We repeated this three times, once with each vendor. The picture above captures the mood of these meetings perfectly – dozens of products and much discussion.

From here, the team will request real samples of the items that best fit our product direction and the vendor will send them to Minneapolis in preparation for our first review with merchandising and product development leadership. Based on what we saw on travel, this review will be full of new, differentiated product that will ensure a successful Fall 2013!

Interested in a career with Target? Learn more about opportunities in engineering or product design and development