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Target Leans in on AI with New Tool for Store Employees

A modern Target store interior with employees using handheld devices featuring the new AI-powered Store Companion chatbot. Employees are interacting with the chatbot on their devices, getting answers to their questions. Customers are shopping, and the atmosphere is vibrant and busy. The background includes store shelves with various products and a Target logo visible, highlighting a high-tech, customer-friendly retail environment

Target Leans in on AI with New Tool for Store Employees

Target is embracing the power of generative artificial intelligence with the introduction of a new tool aimed at improving the efficiency of its store employees and enhancing the shopping experience for customers. The Minneapolis-based retailer is rolling out its "Store Companion chatbot," an app designed to assist employees with various tasks and inquiries.

AI-Driven Efficiency

Amid rising labor costs and underwhelming sales, Target joins the ranks of other major retailers such as Amazon, Walmart, and Best Buy in deploying AI tools to streamline operations. The Store Companion chatbot, developed in-house, is currently being piloted in about 400 stores, with plans for a nationwide rollout across nearly 2,000 locations.

The chatbot will be accessible on employees' store-owned handheld devices, providing answers to questions about processes and procedures. According to Brett Craig, Target's chief information officer, the system will address inquiries in a conversational manner, covering topics such as the Target Circle loyalty card, product locations within the store, and instructions for restarting the cash register.

Enhancing Employee and Customer Experience

"It is really about trying to empower and improve how our team members effectively work with our guests," Craig told Axios. The goal is to equip employees with the tools they need to deliver a great guest experience, rather than replacing them with AI systems.

In December, Target revealed it was utilizing AI to help shoppers personalize both their online and in-store shopping experiences. The Store Companion chatbot is an extension of these efforts, aiming to make the shopping process smoother and more efficient for both employees and customers.

The Broader Context

Target's move to implement AI tools comes as part of a broader trend among retailers seeking to harness the potential of AI to improve operations and customer service. The hype and promise of AI continue to drive innovation in the retail sector, with companies exploring various applications to enhance efficiency and engagement.