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Missoni Hangover Has Become Social Media Problem For Target

09/23/2011

Target has a Missoni madness hangover.

Last week shoppers jumped on Target’s exclusive collection of Missoni products. So enthusiastic were they that shelves were bare within 3 hours and Target.com, the company’s newly revamped ecommerce website, crashed.

Loyal Target customers (or guests as they are identified by Target employees) are angered on multiple fronts. Target is in a difficult position. Target is also at a fork in the road. One fork goes to making nice with all those customers who feel slighted, the other goes to just plowing ahead (which essentially means ignoring those customers and hoping for the best).

The fallout from running out of the iconic Italian designers goods is significant. Considering the marketing and hype preceding the September 13th launch of the product, some serious miscalculations were made.

First, it appears that merchandising and marketing may not have been in synch. Marketing went crazy with Missoni. Merchandising may have been a bit reserved. Planning, the department that orders and manages inventories, was either out of the loop with both Merchandising and Marketing. Not good.

Worse still, IT launches an entirely new website and ecommerce platform in late August after the company split from Amazon.com which used to handle much of Target’s ecommerce efforts. The timing of this switch is precariously close to the holiday selling season. And, of course as we know now, less than 3 weeks prior to the Missoni launch. It’s likely the new site’s infrastructure had not been fully tested for volume. Really not good.

In retailing circles Target is known for excellent customer service. Perhaps not as stellar as Nordstrom or Zappos but certainly in the upper tier of customer-centric operations. And they are really good to their employees. In fact Target associates at the company’s HQ in downtown Minneapolis each received a special Missoni tote filled with simple goodies as a spiff to commemorate the Missoni launch. I bet the merchants would like to have been able to sell those totes!

Right now Target has a social media problem on their hands. Missoni for Target, “Fair Trade” and “Venting” pages are being followed by hundreds on Facebook. Tweets such as, “…aaaand I just received my Missoni merchandise cancelled order notice from @Target #disappointment #ridiculous #fail” prevail throughout Twitter.

I’d say Target has less than 1 week to come up with a strategy to: a) satisfy disgruntled customers, b) assure the world Target.com is up to the stress of holiday shopping, and c) tighten internal activities associated with all launches (products, transactional, etc.)

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