Target names chief digital, product officer

Dive Brief:

  • Target on Wednesday named Prat Vemana as its chief digital and product officer, according to a company announcement. He will join the company on Oct. 31 and report to Chief Guest Experience Officer Cara Sylvester.
  • Vemana will lead the retailer’s digital teams, including site merchandising, user experience, digital operations and product, and Target+, the company’s online third-party marketplace.
  • Vemana comes to Target from Kaiser Permanente where he worked as its senior vice president and chief digital officer, and led its enterprise product management and experience teams.

Dive Insight:

Digital currently represents 20% of Target’s business and shows no signs of slowing down as the company continues to invest in the channel.

“Digital continues to be a major growth driver for Target, and we’re excited for Prat to bring his proven expertise in this area to an elevated role on our leadership team,” Target CEO Brian Cornell said in a statement. “Our team has created a digital shopping experience that is truly best in class, and under Prat’s leadership, our digital business is well-positioned to continue growing for years to come.”

Prat Vemana has experience in the healthcare and retail industries. 
Courtesy of Target 

During his time at Kaiser Permanente, Vemana worked on the redesign of the company’s mobile app, launched same-day delivery for its pharmacy business and modernized its platforms to migrate, deploy and manage applications. 

Additionally, Vemana has extensive retail industry experience. He worked at The Home Depot as the vice president of online and then became the company’s chief product and experience officer, according to his LinkedIn. Vemana also worked as Staples’ vice president of global e-commerce, product and analytics, and was the director of its Velocity Lab and mobile strategy.

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In the second quarter of 2019, digital fulfillment accounted for just over 7% of Target’s total sales, Cornell told analysts on the company’s latest earnings call. Same-day digital sales in the same quarter this year were more than 10% of sales.

Digital growth for the company is currently led by its same-day services. In 2020, near the height of the pandemic in the U.S., Target saw its same-day services (Pick Up, Drive Up and Shipt) grow 273% in its second quarter — a trajectory that analysts said at the time was unlikely to be sustainable. 

This August, the company’s second quarter earnings fell short of estimates, with operating income down 87% year over year. Target, like many other retailers, is attempting to rightsize inventory in the face of decreasing demand as consumers pull back on discretionary spending.

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