It wasn't supposed to be like this.
Ten days after the launch of its blockbuster collaboration with
Italian luxury brand Missoni, Target was supposed to be feted by
the budget and fashion-conscious alike for once again bringing
smart design to the masses. Instead, the big box chain has
faced an unending wave of criticism online for problems with the
collection, and they're not handling it well.
While lives, livelihoods and wild animals have not been put into
danger, Target sold out of the collection in stores almost
immediately and the high volume of users crashed the store's
website for most of its launch day. A booming resale business
of the goods on eBay and widespread complaints of miserable service
have only fueled the anger of a customer base told to "expect more,
pay less" by Target's commercials.
One Facebook user went so far as to call the Missoni mess the "BP oil spill of fashion." In the face of such
criticism, what lessons can we learn? Here are my top three:
1. Don't be a victim of your own success
The most prominent criticisms of Target buzzing around is: The
marketing was too good. While the retailer has declined to disclose its public relations and
marketing budget for the collaboration, cute ads could be seen
all over the internet and the collection got attention in
publications like Vogue and Women's Wear Daily. Bloggers
stirred up attention for the collection to frenzied levels, leading
to critical anger and disappointment when customers couldn't get
their hands on the merchandise at stores or online.
2. "Sorry" isn't enough
Throughout its site crash, Target used Twitter to respond to
negative tweets. That was good! The impersonal, generic
emails letting online shoppers know their orders would be delayed?
That was bad. Social media can be any company's friend in a
crisis situation, but it doesn't always go far enough. Target
could have identified the shoppers affected by order delays and
sent them (more) personalized emails. In a crisis situation,
communication is key, and a little bit of outreach to angered
customers can go a long way. Which brings us to…
3. Get everyone on the same page
Clueless service representatives are always a problem, but never
more so when a coveted customer base is on the edge of mutiny. Racked has horror stories from the Missoni
mess: randomly cancelled orders, oblivious telephone
operators and mischarges to the tune of $1,000. It's another
reminder that crisis preparation is key. Generic talking points can
be quickly edited and distributed to customer service
representatives. Get an order policy straight and tell your
customers. The only thing worse than being the retailer that
promised Missoni and couldn't deliver is the retailer that promised
Missoni, couldn't deliver, and failed to inform shoppers what was
This post was written by Account Executive Anne Baker.