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Target Taps Prat Vemana as Chief Digital and Product Officer

Target Corp. has hired Prat Vemana as EVP, chief digital and product officer, effective Oct. 31. Vemana will report to chief guest experience officer Cara Sylvester, the Minneapolis-based retailer said.

In this role, Target said Vemana will oversee its digital business, including site merchandising, user experience, digital operations and product, and Target+, the retailer’s growing online third-party marketplace. Additionally, Vemana will provide key support for Target’s product teams across the company.

“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,” said CEO Brian Cornell 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.”

Vemana joins Target from Kaiser Permanente, where he served as SVP and chief digital officer and led its enterprise product management and experience teams. His work included implementing consumer experience enhancements like the redesign of the company’s mobile app and launching same-day home delivery for its pharmacy business. Prior to joining Kaiser Permanente, Vemana held digital leadership positions at The Home Depot and Staples.

Prat Vemana, Target
Prat Vemana
CREDIT: Vijay Narayanasamy

“Target sets the standard for consumer experience in retail and is known for delighting its guests in a way that’s consistent and engaging across every touchpoint,” added Vemana. “I’m thrilled to join a company that I’ve long admired, and I look forward to playing a key role in shaping the future of Target’s leading digital experience.”

Digital currently represents 20% of Target’s business. The company continues to advance its digital shopping experience through investments in its suite of same-day services and the enablement of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) payments on Target.com, among other recent enhancements to its app and website.

In August, Target reported second quarter revenues of $26 billion, up 3.5% from the same quarter last year. Overall though, the big-box retailer reported adjusted earnings per share of 39 cents versus the 72 cents expected by analysts. This marked an 89.2% decrease from the same quarter last year.

These results led the retailer to reduce its “inventory exposure in discretionary categories” throughout Q2 by canceling more than $1.5 billion of orders in these categories and marking down products.

In June, Target outlined a plan to “right-size” inventory for the balance of the year by unloading excess stock in the supply chain. Target said it had seen an unexpected sales slowdown in categories such as home, electronics, sporting goods and apparel as consumers spent most actively across essential categories like food and beverage.

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