I'm not usually one of those people that freaks out over a designer/discount store collaboration but in the case of Missoni, well, it's one of my favorite design houses and all I've ever been able to afford are hand towels at $40 a pop. So when I found out about their limited edition run with Target, I was all over it.
I was ready to shop when the release was rumored to hit the Target.com website at midnight EST. West coasters thought we were getting it easy since it was only 9pm our time. But then the first warning bells of what would become perhaps the largest shopping debacle in memory started going off.
At 9:01pm I refreshed the site over and over, waiting for some telltale Missoni stripes or zags to alert me to the just-opened section. After a half hour of repeated refreshing, I was getting nothing. So I went to Twitter to see what was up.
There were already many confused posts on the TargetStyle tweet stream demanding to know what was going on. TargetStyle had no answers. Instead there were coy suggestions about when the product would actually become available on the site, such as "get your beauty rest" and "check back in the morning". When people (I think reasonably) demanded to know which morning (was it based on Eastern Standard Time? Or Central? Or Pacific?) TargetStyle refused to say.
I gave up and went to sleep. But I have a baby, and she did what babies do best - she woke up in the middle of the night. When I had settled her back in bed, I decided to check online to see what was up.
It was about 3:30am and TargetStyle had finally decided to say something concrete. The main Target.com site was having trouble, so they had begun to release Missoni items on their mobile site. I hurried there, found what I was looking for, and placed my $400+ order for towels, scarves, sheets, and baby bedding.
Around 4:30am the site crashed due to overwhelming demand. Then the proverbial fecal matter really hit the oscillating device. Well, kind of.
In the analog world, people were going apeshit at urban Target stores on the east coast. There were reports of women in New York and New Jersey snatching things out of one another's hands and ambushing employees in the stock rooms. People were buying entire shopping carts of merchandise. Fearing the worst, I rolled into the parking lot of a suburban Target in Clackamas, Oregon at 7:30am. There was no crowd waiting outside. It was just me and two other women. Right before the doors opened a few more had gathered but when the manager unlocked the doors, there perhaps only 20 of us eagerly hunting down the Missoni displays scattered throughout the store. I should have just bought everything then that I had ordered online. But I didn't. I just bought a few things that I had wanted to see in person first and headed home.
Back at home I discovered Target.com had continued to break down and yet most of the merchandise had sold out. Perhaps spurred on by the eBay frenzy the Missoni for Target Fashion Week pop-up shop merchandise caused, the hoarders from New York and New Jersey had listed their items on eBay for 3 and 4 times the retail price.
People on Twitter and Facebook were pissed. And rightfully so. To some extent a frenzy is fun. There is excitment for the product you're offering, and that's great. It wasn't just that demand for the product outweighed supply. It was that Target's entire handling of the situation was so amateurish. The site shouldn't have crashed. Both online and in-store, there probably should have been limits on how many items each person could buy.
But the disappointment continued long after the products were sold out. I think everyone who ordered online expected to receive their order. But thanks to a change in Target's ecommerce platform just prior to the Missoni release, orders went missing, product had been oversold, and they now have themselves a big mess. Some people's orders have been canceled. Others arrive piecemeal, often weeks apart. Others are full of errors, such as the 2-packs of baby sheets I ordered that only contain 1 sheet (most of my items eventually arrived, even after I received cancellation notices on some of them).
I doubt that the Missoni debacle will hurt Target's bottom line in the long run, or even the short run. Those on Facebook and Twitter who are vowing to never shop there again will probably last a month or two before returning to their favorite big box store. It will be interesting to see how Target handles future designer collaborations, including the amount of hype pre-sale, the online experience and the in-store experience. Look out, here comes Jason Wu!