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Target Faces Technical Issues and eBay Backlash

A collaboration between clothing brand Lilly Pulitzer and chainstore Target was widely anticipated by customers, but the affair turned sour for some shoppers.

Lilly Pulitzer for Target included 250 different items across apparel, shoes and accessories for women and girls, home goods and cosmetics. But Target found its website overwhelmed with traffic when the items went up for sale and it took the site down for a brief period early Sunday morning.

Fortune noted, “The incident has raised questions as to why the retailer wasn’t fully ready for the onslaught,” and Newsweek described additional technical problems. Target used Twitter to keep shoppers up to date:

Due to the overwhelming excitement for the #LillyforTarget collection we are making adjustments to our website. Stay tuned for updates.

For those still waiting for #LillyforTarget, we are continuing to work through our website experience. We will share updates as they come.

We know you’re frustrated & we’re sorry. We appreciate your patience. You can now shop the #LillyforTarget collection http://tgt.biz/tplx

Shoppers also were disappointed when the website and retail stores quickly sold out of the items, and there was a backlash caused by resellers who listed the items for sale on eBay and elsewhere at tremendous markups – the hashtag #LillyforTarget turned to #LillyforeBay and #LillyGate2015.

On Monday, eBay tweeted, “Did you miss out on #LillyforTarget yesterday? Browse over 30,000 styles on #eBay right now: http://ebay.to/1yLoT7i.” But it was greeted by comments calling it “Just another money hungry soul sucking company” and displaying a “greedy, soulless price gouging of Lilly for Target items.”

“Why didn’t @Target limit # of items to two per customer in #LillyforTarget launch? Could have prevented #LillyforEbay backlash from resale,” one person tweeted. Others urged their followers not to shop for the exclusive items on eBay, calling those who marked up the items “selfish brats” and “cheaters.”

Some were more philosophical, predicting some shoppers as well as would-be resellers would end up returning items to Target.

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Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com.