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Target’s Scarcity Strategy Can Be a Boon to Online Sellers

Despite a public relations backlash after last year’s “Lilly Pulitzer” sale, Target is going ahead with another limited edition collaboration, this one with Finnish design house Marimekko. And the sale that kicks off on April 17th is likely to draw online sellers eager to cash in by buying items at retail and then selling at a markup after the event.

The “Marimekko for Target” collection features more than 200 pieces from outdoor decor to swimwear and includes some firsts for Marimekko, including the bocce ball sets and parachutes. Most items are priced at under $50. (Prices range from $7.99 for sunscreen to $499.99 for the paddle board.)

Last year, Target launched “Lilly Pulitzer for Target,” a collection of 250 items, but Target found its website overwhelmed with traffic, and shoppers were disappointed when the website and retail stores quickly sold out of the items. There was a backlash against resellers who listed the special branded items for sale on eBay and elsewhere at tremendous markups – the hashtag #LillyforTarget turned to #LillyforeBay and #LillyGate2015.

A month after the sale, resellers reported they were banned from purchasing from Target. The retailer told EcommerceBytes it established a new policy in order to ensure it had enough product for its customers.

If history repeats itself and demand exceeds supply, Target won’t be apologetic, according to Forbes, which said scarcity is the whole point of Target’s collaborations.

But while resellers scooped up last year’s goods, there was no guarantee they sold the items at the high markups they were seeking. And keep in mind that Lilly Pulitzer is a highly popular brand. A search for Lilly Pulitzer brought back 26,816 listings on eBay on March 24, 2016. A search for Marimekko brought back 2,886 listings. As always, resellers beware.

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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). She is a member of the Online News Association (Sep 2005 - present) and Investigative Reporters and Editors (Mar 2006 - present). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com. See disclosure at EcommerceBytes.com/disclosure/.