No more Lilly: Target doesn’t plan to restock the line after selling out in minutes

20 Apr 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Floral lovers flock: Lilly Pullitzer for Target sells out in hours.

Target Corp.’s website went down Sunday morning, overwhelmed by shoppers clamoring for a piece of a Lilly Pulitzer collection that was selling for a fraction of the price of the Palm Beach label’s luxury clothes. The mad dash for shift dresses and floral hammocks in the Lilly Pulitzer for Target collection turned into a whirlwind that nearly crashed the Minneapolis-based retailer’s website early Sunday morning.

Crushing demand for floral-print bathing suits, pastel-colored cotton shifts, handbags and housewares briefly crashed Target’s Web site Sunday morning, the retailer admitted.Instead, the discount retailer’s website was overwhelmed in the early hours on Sunday as legions of fashionistas who had been up overnight tried to snap up Lilly Pulitzer’s fashions, only to encounter delays in the colorful beachwear line’s availability on and in many case, end up empty-handed. The surge in demand for the 250-item line showed the battered discounter can still summon up some of the “Tar-zhay” glitz that helped the retailer grow into a national chain, but it also underscored that Target TGT, -2.32% still has a way to go before its website is robust enough to fight off rivals like Inc. Some dejected customers who stayed up all night to buy pieces online and came away empty-handed quickly took to Twitter to call the situation an “epic fail” for Target. But others said it was proof of the intense interest Target can still generate through limited-time designer partnerships. “We never want our guests to be disappointed,” said Joshua Thomas, a Target spokesman. “We share their disappointment with the experience of shopping online.

Eastern time, Target told customers via its Twitter feed that its “website is updating and will be shoppable soon.” Then, two hours later, Target said that “due to overwhelming excitement” for the Pulitzer line it was adjusting—only to tell shoppers an hour later that it was “continuing to work through our website experience.” The company was limiting the number of customers who could access the site at certain times, and at one point, Target made the site inaccessible for 20 minutes or so to grapple with the heavy traffic. It doesn’t match what we aim to provide them, which is an easy, seamless, consistent experience.” Target often teams with up-and-coming designers, so Lilly Pulitzer is one of the more iconic, mature brands it has partnered with. Finally, at about 6 a.m., the collection was available on line, but sold out so quickly that many night owl shoppers couldn’t buy anything, provoking a lot of anger that spilled over into social media.

The preppy Palm Beach-inspired brand has a devoted following, especially on the East Coast and in the South, that gravitates to its vibrant colors and floral patterns. There were reports of long Black Friday-like lines at Target’s physical stores, with the Associated Press reporting a line of 300 shoppers at a store in East Harlem in the pre-dawn hours, meaning consumers will have little luck at stores too. “Due to heavy traffic, we experienced slowness to our site, resulting in an inconsistent experience for our guests,” Target spokesman Joshua Thomas told Fortune in an e-mailed statement. “We realize there is an extreme amount of excitement around this collaboration, and we apologize for any disappointment this may have caused our guests.” Customers might not be the only disappointed ones.

In contrast to other cities, the launch of the brand in D.C. wasn’t too chaotic. “Everyone was pretty calm because we’ve had a few of these designer launches in previous years,” Moore said. Brian Cornell, who became CEO in August, had made deep datacollection and analysis, including intelligence gathered via social media, a cornerstone of his management style, as detailed in a Fortune profile in February. This seemed to either excite people who welcomed a more affordable version of their favorite brand, or brought complete disdain from those who didn’t want their exclusive look to be available to the masses. Until shortly before that incident, had been run by AMZN -2.71% and the Missoni fiasco was a wake-up call to the retailer to beef up its e-commerce firepower.

Target never gives an exact time in advance of when its designer partnership collections will be available online since it’s usually a rolling launch as the website updates throughout the early morning hours. As consumers slowly realized that this wasn’t just an issue in their local store but rather a nationwide sellout, patrons lost patience — and Target went on the defensive. While many customers came away with a sour taste in their mouth, some retail experts said it shouldn’t leave a lasting bruise on Target’s reputation.

After all, these events are designed to build hype. “Customers have to realize that products are going to be in short supply,” said Dave Brennan, co-director of the University of St. At the downtown Minneapolis store next to Target’s corporate headquarters on Nicollet Mall, the line of a few hundred people snaked around the building.

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