Shoppers, take position, the Marimekko for Target line is arriving in stores and online on Sunday.
More than 200 new pieces were fashioned by the famed Finnish designer in collaboration with Target’s design team to mark spring 2016 at Target. Consumers can look forward to bold black and white prints and striking splashes of color across the women’s apparel, swimwear, outdoor furnishings, and home décor categories.
But don’t get too attached. Target’s exclusive designer collaboration products tend to sell out fast.
When the Lilly Pulitzer for Target line debuted a year ago, Target experienced something of a dream come true colliding with a nightmare: the retailer sold out of all the Lilly Pulitzer goods within a few hours. The retailer came nowhere near close to meeting demand, resulting in flocks of disappointed shoppers. Lilly Pulitzer for Target items flooded eBay at drastically inflated prices, largely defeating the point of buying a “for Target” product.
Target recognizes that this was not an ideal situation.
“With each of these design partnerships, the goal is to strike the balance by offering the product but keeping it limited in nature,” said Amy Goetz, a spokesperson for Target. “It is not the intention to have them sell out in minutes. We want guests to get their hands on the products they want.”
With the Lilly Pulitzer for Target campaign, Target both overhyped the product and underestimated the demand.
“Target did not anticipate that demand would outpace supply right from the get-go,” said Sahir Anand, principal analyst at EKN Research, in an email. “Retail industry average forecast accuracy according to EKN Research data is 60 percent. This was a major problem for Target.”
Those who experienced the high anticipation and long lines for the Lilly Pulitzer for Target items, or other designer collaboration collections (Target has more than 175 to date), only to leave stores empty-handed are not quick to forget. When Target announced the collaboration with Marimekko on March 2, some shoppers commented that, because of the high probability of a sellout, they weren’t going to bother even trying to get the goods early on.
But shoppers should take comfort in the fact that Target seems to have learned from its past mistakes.
“Target is being more conservative this time around,” said Jason "RetailGeek" Goldberg, special vice president at marketing agency Razorfish. “With [the Lilly Pulitzer collection], they created too much demand for the amount of inventory they had, which was the fundamental problem. But also they didn't have the right logistics in place in the stores and did not expect it to be the Black Friday type of event it ended up being."
Goldberg said that Target’s website has been operating more smoothly of late, and had very few glitches this past holiday season compared to years past. Target is limiting the amount of items a consumer can buy online to five of the same at a time, Goetz said, so that restriction should also help things run effectively.
But if the website does happen to crash, Goldberg says that shoppers should then turn to Target’s mobile app to browse and buy.
“The secret trick here is that Target’s mobile app uses a different system [than its website], so if either crashes you can go to the other,” said Goldberg, who adds that he would definitely shop web over in-store not only to avoid lines and chaos, but because you can get to the stuff right when the sale starts. And don’t forget about those mobile app push notifications.
“There’s a feature on Target’s mobile app that allows you to get a push notification when the sale starts,” said Goldberg. “Go in Target's mobile app and subscribe to push notifications and you'll get notice right when the sale starts.”
If you want to go to the store yourself, then definitely arrive early, and don't plan on doing anything else Sunday morning. There’s virtually no chance that this stock won’t sell out.
“On the downside for Target, there is no downside,” said Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst of The NPD Group. “They'd have to have a product nightmare for things to go wrong. A black shirt would have to turn green. It can't happen.”