March 30th, 2015

As consumers continue moving towards digital shopping channels to make purchases, online and mobile shopping has become a core component of any retail business strategy.  And rightfully so as the eCommerce market is exploding with over 40 percent of worldwide internet users having purchased products or goods online contributing to a growing industry amounting to more than 1.2 trillion US dollars in 2013.

It doesn’t come as a shock when traditional retail giants realize the potential of eCommerce and start to build out new offerings.  That’s the case with Target Corporation, the second-largest discount retailer in the United States with over 1900 stores across the U.S. and Canada.  Target saw the massive potential which spawned a plethora of competitive retailer website all vying for a piece of their pie and quickly realized the need to embrace cutting-edge technology to drive new customer acquisition and competitive differentiation.

With sights on and mobile applications, Target’s API team was tasked to build out their existing API platform to provide an engaging digital experience across a wide array of platforms, from mobile devices to 3rd parties applications. Cutting-edge features for and their mobile applications would create a more engaging experience for millions of Target customers and increase Target’s brand awareness.

When asked if they considered relational database systems to support their API platform, Target’s API team quickly pointed out that all their systems are required to support multiple data centers and ensure continuous availability.  After some research and speaking with domain experts, Target selected Apache Cassandra for its ability to handle large volumes of simple transactions, masterless architecture, and support for multi-data center replication.

“Based on our requirements, Apache Cassandra was exactly what we needed. Apache Cassandra scales, can ingest huge amounts of data, can replicate across multiple data centers, and ensures continuous uptime. “ explained Dan Cundiff, Lead Architect at Target.  “We listened to the community and experts and realized that we also wanted access to DataStax’s expert support and services, as well as enterprise functionality such as security, analytics and search.”

Target relies on Cassandra to deliver engaging online and mobile customer experiences

Apache Cassandra has had a significant impact on Target’s API business by reducing time to market and increasing agility, both of which are key to delivering engaging online and mobile experiences in an extremely competitive retail market. In addition, because Apache Cassandra is easy to develop against, Target engineers are now able to say “yes” to new innovative features for APIs that support their high transaction mobile applications, which previously were a challenge.

What’s Next for Target?

Target is an example of an online retailer that is always reinventing itself.  They realized that in order to maintain their edge in the market, they need to take the next step in becoming an Internet Enterprise.  As a result, their infrastructure services team continues to focus on improving the online and mobile shopping experience.  And they rely on Cassandra everyday to achieve these results.

“Our time to market for new features has been reduced dramatically.  For some perspective of how easy Cassandra is to get up and running, it took us only three months from choosing Cassandra to going live into production,” said Cundiff.  “We were amazed at how fast we were able to go live with such a critical technology.”

And, with great success comes plans for expansion as Target continues to grow its current setup of 14 nodes across 2 data centers that supports its current APIs.  “With Apache Cassandra as our backbone, we have the confidence to deliver amazing features very quickly, and that’s what will continue to separate our customer experience from the rest of the pack.”


Watch Video: Target — Pioneering NoSQL in a Big Data Enterprise


Read Use Case: Target — Pioneering NoSQL in a Big Data Enterprise