Target could have prevented the shortage of its Lilly Pulitzer collaboration sale items, retail experts say. The chain of mega-stores launched its collaboration event with deceased designer Pulitzer early Sunday morning, and within hours, the socialite’s signature country club and beach-themed frocks, bathing suits, accessories, barware and more were sold out – online and in stores.
"It certainly gets them press," Bob Phibbs, CEO of the Retail Doctor, a business strategy and consulting firm, told NBC News on Monday. "I don't know how effective it is at building loyalty and repeat business."
Many people feel that the company should have been prepared for the shopping rush, as this isn’t Target’s first time dealing with such a sale. The company has collaborated with other well-known designers, including Jason Wu, Philip Lim and Missoni. On Sunday, demand for Pulitzer’s bright patterns and summery designs was so high that Target’s mobile shopping app and website were completely overwhelmed. The same thing happened during the launch of its Missoni collection in 2011, which caused the store’s site to crash.
"This is not rocket science at this point," Forrester Research Analyst Sucharita Mulpuru told NBC. "We've had 20 years of e-commerce history where there are bursts in demand."
Mulpuru added that retail sites like Amazon are able to comply with major increases in use, and that Target should have been prepared for the influx of Lilly Pulitzer fanatics.
The Lilly Pulitzer launch was originally slated for 3 a.m. EST, but was pushed back. The site was then shut down for a short period of time before the sale began, which limited the number of customers who could use the site.
Users quickly vented their frustrations on social media site Twitter.
â€” Shawna Calderwood (@ShawnaLittle) April 19, 2015
Every Target around Clay County is sold out of Lilly Pulitzer and the store opened 2 hours ago... _
â€” Kalin Sawdo (@0KAYYY) April 19, 2015
Looks like I'll stick to shopping the full price @LillyPulitzer because online is completely sold out & I'm sure stores are cleaned out.
â€” Taylor (@SIEverything) April 19, 2015
The Lilly Pulitzer at Target sale was sold out in 3 minutes and 20 seconds, glad I got here a half hour early
â€” alia (@AliaAhmadi) April 19, 2015
Currently, Lilly Pulitzer’s Target collection is still out of stock online. Hopeful shoppers may have better luck visiting their local Target store.