Last week, the Minneapolis Star Tribune broke the story of a new Target secret project called Goldfish. The story centered around a job listing for what is essentially a CTO for the project, and the piece also hinted that the project was led by someone named West Stringfellow.
Much of the speculation turned on one bullet point from the job listing which said "We are ambitious and bent on disrupting the way people shop". That is intriguing, as it makes me wonder if they are going to scale some of the lessons learned from their Target Open House, the company's San Francisco concept store focused on connected home and IoT products. And while the products featured at Open House themselves are interesting, it's the new experiential retail concepts they demand that makes Open House worth checking out. To that end, Target has worked on creating some cool presentation concepts, including creating scenes in each of the different "rooms" of the house (each room has a small section in the store) such as a "night time routine" for the baby's room.
I think taking some of the lessons learned from Open House is a possibility for Goldfish. After all, Target has made it clear that Open House is something they intend to learn from and possibly take concepts from to seed other Target locations with best-practices. The biggest problem in doing so is Target's existing in-store footprints don't exactly lend themselves to the type of experiential retail as you get with Open House, unless they are to use a separate "store within store/building within building" concept they've employed in San Francisco where the Open House is given its own entrance and a distinct and separate interior footprint.
As fun as it is to speculate about how the company could plant some of the seeds they've germinated at Open House elsewhere, I think the company is likely thinking as much or more about business model innovation as retail format and presentation. In that sense, there's always the possibility it could be considering a "show room" retail concept like that of b8ta, a model which forgoes owning product inventory (the product companies essentially rent shelf space) and focuses heavily on in-store engagement analytics and analysis. b8ta also places a high-degree of emphasis on in-store expertise, relying heavily on product vendors for associate education through mandatory training sessions, etc.
Whichever direction Target goes with Goldfish from a presentation format and business model perspective, there's a good chance the franchise will feature products that utilize technology in interesting ways. This could mean simply "smart" product versions of existing categories such as smart home appliances and wearables, as well as a way for them to possibly showcase newer categories such as VR or robotics.
Project Goldfish is being run out of Target's Sunnyvale office. Interestingly, this appears to be a separate office from the company's Technology Innovation Center in San Francisco, which ran lead on the Open House.
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