Retail giant Target learned its lesson on the importance of a simple economic concept, supply and demand, a few months back when it launched the Missoni line of products. Missoni is an iconic Italian design house and is world renowned for its eclectic patterns, textures and colors that can be mixed and matched. It introduced its limited edition discount line to Target stores nationwide. The new line received massive interest from fashion-inclined public as evidenced by actual store and online store visits. The horde of online shoppers eventually proves to be too much, causing the Target online store to crash. The aftermath–complaints and bad publicity from dissatisfied customers.
Ensure You Have an Efficient Online Store in Place
Small businesses and fashion retailers can definitely walk away with a lot of lessons from the fiasco. One important lesson is regarding evaluation of an online store’s bandwidth needs. Apparently, a major retail store like Target do not have an unlimited bandwidth, a fact that many Target customers learned after a multitude of failed attempts to go on the online store and purchase Missoni products. From a technical standpoint, Target was unprepared from a technical standpoint.
Small fashion retailers may not ever have to experience the same quantity of traffic that Target received the day it launched its Missoni line, but it is imperative that small businesses with online operations are able to handle normal day-to-day traffic. This stresses the importance of evaluating a small business’ need for bandwidth and preparing the online store accordingly.
Maintain an Accurate Sales and Inventory System
As a result of inability of Target online store to handle the unprecedented demand for the Missoni line on the day it launched, events that followed caused aggravation and stress to a lot of customers. Some customers received emails telling them that they may not be able to receive the items they ordered on the delivery date specified on their confirmation email. Several days later, same customers received an email stating that the items they ordered were out of stock, and Target may need to cancel their orders.
The problem arose from a faulty inventory tracker, which resulted to items being sold in spite of the fact that they are already out of stock. The fiasco stresses the importance of having a reliable sales and inventory system.
Do Not Keep Customers in the Dark
Majority of Target customers were irate because Target cancelled the orders they placed. There were some customers who still got charged in their credit cards even after their orders were cancelled. On instances like this, it is important for a business to inform their customers of the refund process in a proactive manner.
Hope for the Best, Plan for the Worst
Prior to the date of the launch, Target advertised the collaboration heavily on television and on multiple page layouts on major magazines, Vogue being one of them. Target should’ve planned for two things—their marketing campaign will work and demand for the line will cause mass hysteria or their marketing campaign will not work and demand for the line will not cause mass hysteria. Either way, they should have been ready for both.
This lesson is applicable to various small businesses, especially small fashion retail stores that spend money on various marketing efforts. Sometimes, it is easy to be caught in a marketing frenzy, and forget about whether the company is capable of keeping up with the potential sales increase or not.
Kimberly is a researcher, writer, business woman, and contributor at entrepreneurweek.com blog network. She may be reached at email@example.com.
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