Target Announces “Transformative” GenAI Chatbot for Team Members

The solution will be available in all Target stores by August.

Target store entrance the early morning
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Published: June 25, 2024

Rhys Fisher Fisher

Target has revealed plans to roll out its new generative AI (GenAI) solution to “hundreds of thousands” of team members.

The Store Companion is a GenAI-powered chatbot designed to support Target’s staff by answering on-the-job queries, coaching new recruits, and supporting store operations management.

With the tool slated to be available to staff in all of Target’s nearly 2000 stores by August, the company has claimed that the release will make it the “first major retailer” in the US to equip its team members with a GenAI chatbot.

By boosting efficiency and enabling deeper guest engagement, Target believes that the Store Companion will help make the teams’ jobs easier while also enhancing the overall customer experience.

In discussing the news, Brett CraigEVP and Chief Information Officer at Target –expressed his excitement and enthusiasm about the potential of GenAI and its impact on the future of Target:

“We know technology will continue to play an outsized role in the future of retail – for our team members, our guests and our business. With that in mind, we’re continually experimenting with new tools to make it even easier for our team to do their jobs and to bring more of what guests love about shopping at Target to life.

The transformative nature of GenAI is helping us accelerate the rate of innovation across our operations, and we’re excited about the role these new tools and applications will play in driving growth.

So, let’s take a closer look at some of the features of this “transformative” solution.

Target’s Store Companion

Despite sounding more akin to a personal assistant that might follow you around the store making recommendations and helping to carry your groceries, the Store Companion is an app-based solution that will offer store team members instant answers about processes and procedures.

The tool will also act as a process expert and coach, aiding new and seasonal staff in on-the-job learning.

In order to equip the bot with the capabilities to solve staff queries, Target’s in-house tech team utilized real FAQs and process documents from stores nationwide.

The retailer has confirmed that the tool is currently being piloted in approximately 400 stores, with feedback being used to refine it before a chainwide launch.

Jake Seaquist, a Store Director at one of the pilot stores, detailed how the testing process is helping to improve the solution:

We’re hearing great feedback from our team about the new app. Streamlining day-to-day tasks goes a long way with our team members and adds up to more time spent with guests and a better guest experience across the store.

While the Store Companion is Target’s major GenAI-powered release, the company revealed that it is also utilizing the tech to “elevate” the digital experience for its customers via the following two enhancements:

Product Display Page Improvements

By leveraging GenAI, the company has been able to improve thousands of product display pages on its website to offer more relevant and user-friendly experiences.

The tool summarizes reviews and refines product descriptions to help shoppers make informed decisions. Additionally, product titles are enhanced with detailed information to aid in quicker searches.

Guided Search

The retailer is also using GenAI to introduce a Guided Search feature to its website, which enables guests to use conversational language to find a wider range of curated results.

Target believes that the enhanced search feature will help shoppers remember often-forgotten essentials and has confirmed that it will be available to all users by the end of the summer.

More Retailers are Turning to GenAI

While Target may be the “first major retailer” in the US to introduce GenAI-powered tools to its store team members, the likes of Carrefour and Tesco have also been leveraging the technology to enhance their CX offerings.

Indeed, this time last year, Carrefour announced the launch of its own GenAI shopping experience via its new chatbot, Hopla.

Whereas the Store Companion was targeted at employees (pardon the pun), Hopla is a ChatGPT-based chatbot that is integrated into the French retailer’s website, where its natural language features assist customers with their shopping requirements.

The tool can also help customers choose products based on budget, dietary restrictions, or menu ideas, as well as suggesting ways to reuse ingredients and create related recipes and shopping lists.

Additionally, in a statement released at the time, the company confirmed that GenAI was being used to enhance over 2,000 of Carrefour’s brand product pages with detailed descriptions – just like Target.

While British supermarket chain Tesco has not yet reached the point of a specific GenAI-powered chatbot, in a discussion in May of last year, the company’s Business Solutions Director of Enterprise Analytics, Venkat Raghavan, revealed that Tesco was using GenAI and other technologies to improve CX, predict demand, analyze customer behavior, and prevent fraud.

Raghavan also confirmed that the retailer was adopting AI to help garner superior insights, commenting:

One area where generative AI can play a big role is in extracting insights out of a lot of reports and dashboards that we build.

Moreover, he detailed how the company was looking at ways to improve and sophisticate its WhatsApp customer service channel through GenAI solutions.

Artificial IntelligenceChatbotsConversational AIGenerative AIUser Experience

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