Target is a retail mainstay in the United States, and it’s managed to expand its international footprint bit by bit over the years. However, when Target attempted to expand north of the border — not far from its Minnesota headquarters — things did not go as planned.
ZDNet has the long, sad story of Target Canada’s rise and fall, and while it was a series of events that led to the closing of every store Target managed to open in the Great White North, none of them could have occurred without an IT and inventory management issue that submarined the whole enterprise. At the crux of the problem was Target management’s unwillingness to adapt existing IT structure in use for stateside stores for the use of new ones in Canada.
How did these problems manifest themselves? First, Target ran into inventory supply problems that left whole stores with swaths of empty shelves. With about 75,000 products to stock and each of those requiring physical dimensions in both imperial and metric units — to better fit on metric shelves — Target’s IT staff suddenly became inundated with tasks requiring them to physically input the correct information under ridiculous time constraints and unreachable goals.
As such, ZDNet noted that about 70 percent of all data points entered into Target Canada’s systems were inaccurate.
Maybe, as Joe Castaldo of Canadian Business told MPR News, if Target had let its Canada branch work out the kinks on its own time, things might have gone more smoothly. However, a torrid expansion pace all but precluded that from happening.
“They wanted to open 124 stores in a year, essentially, and they expected to be profitable within that time,” Castaldo said. “That was a very ambitious plan, and everything that went wrong — all of the problems that Target Canada faced — are a result of that plan.”