NEW YORK — As Target looks to build on improved store traffic and a holiday-season surge in online sales, the big-box retailer said Wednesday that it plans to boost annual spending on technology and supply-chain initiatives to as much as $2.5 billion a year by 2017, sharply higher than the $1.4 billion spent last year.

At a presentation to investors here Wednesday, executives outlined a major effort to transform Target’s logistics operations to speed delivery of online purchases while keeping store shelves better stocked. The plan involves looking at issues including big changes in how it will use its warehouses to fulfill online orders, and seemingly small details such as ordering the optimal-sized packs of each product so they are easy for workers to unload on shelves.

“Over time, we’ve been adding stress and complexity to systems that frankly were built for another time,” said John Mulligan, Target’s chief operating officer.

Target expects its spending on capital expenditures such as these to increase to $1.8 billion in 2016, and then the company plans to further ratchet up spending in 2017 and beyond to between $2 billion and $2.5 billion a year.

Although those behind-the-scenes changes may not be especially visible to Target shoppers, some of the retailers’ other big bets for 2016 surely will: Target will be making an effort to improve its $18.5 billion grocery business, a category that chief executive Brian Cornell said has previously left guests “underwhelmed and disappointed.”

This year, Target will be working to improve its assortment of fresh grocery items, in particular.

Customers might also notice new investment in the kids’ department: Target recently launched Pillowfort, an exclusive brand of gender-neutral kids’ bedding and home goods. On Wednesday, Cornell said that a children’s apparel brand, Cat & Jack, is poised to launch during the back-to-school season and that the company expects the line to be a “multibillion-dollar brand.”

Target’s plans for this year are an extension of a strategy that Cornell outlined shortly after he took the helm of the company in 2014, one focusing on what the company calls “signature categories”: apparel, home, kids, baby and wellness. The addition of new kids’ brands is a reflection of this mission.

Target’s focus on supply-chain improvement has much in common with the priorities put forward recently by Wal-Mart, which is also pushing to have better-stocked shelves and to figure out how to better leverage its stores to fulfill e-commerce orders. Both retailers are hoping their big spending on these strategies will help them catch up with Amazon.com, which continues to crush both big-box stores online.