Target's CEO reveals how he fixed a mistake that was costing the company customers

Brian CornellGetty/Andrew BurtonTarget CEO Brian Cornell says the retailers ideas for the future got a little too far-fetched.

In February, Target pulled the plug on big-ticket innovation ideas like its “Store of the Future” and a web e-commerce platform for sellers that were supposed to debut this year.

Target CEO Brian Cornell explained the reasoning behind the shake-up in an interview at Fortune’s Brainstorm Tech conference. Too many of Target’s innovation ideas were “drifting out into another universe,” he said.

“We had to reign them back in and say innovation has to first start with what is our guest expecting from Target and how does it help our core enterprise,” Cornell.

Cornell went on to explain that Target is thinking more in the 3-5 year range of strategies that will pay off sooner, like opening smaller footprint stores in urban centres around the US.

“First we need to embrace the consumer, and really understand the consumer trends,” Cornell said.

The company is still investing in tech, but looking at more under the hood innovations like machine learning, which has more of an immediate impact on a customer’s shopping experience.

“We’re working on the future and embracing tech, embracing innovation, but really trying to funnel it into our core enterprise to meet the needs of our guests each and every week,” Cornell said.

Target is looking to return to sales growth after nearly a year of sagging sales. Cornell himself recently took a large pay cut.

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