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Bengaluru goes from technology capital to talent hub as e-tailers hunt for IT skills

Be it in New York City or a small town in Oklahoma, Target stores look similar in design, but not so when it comes to the way goods are stacked. 

In a world where the placement of products is counted as a key driver of sales, even the positioning of a can of beans is significant. Often, the decision on where to place a product or how to highlight a brand is made halfway across the world, here in Namma Bengaluru. 

At Target, decisions such as the floor plan and where to stock what what are increasingly made with the help of experts in India’s technology capital. Data scientists here scan shop sales data to find patterns on customer spending and look for ways to nudge them to spend more. The team in Bengaluru also engages with the shoppers on smartphones to get them buy online from Target, rather than rival Amazon. 

As the world’s largest retail companies look to tank up on technology skills to stay ahead, they are flocking to Bengaluru. Out of 25 Fortune 500 retailers, about 10 have set up technology shops in India and smaller retailers are following their larger rivals, show data from IT industry lobby Nasscom. When they are not setting up their own captive units, these retailers are working with Indian IT companies to outsource services.

The early entrants came in the mid-2000s and as they experienced success, rivals started facing the ‘peer pressure’ to join them. From US-headquartered Walmart and Target to Japan’s Rakuten and Chile’s Falabella, retailers are expanding their engineering workforce in India and even more are looking to set shop here.