• Retail Dive

Target's Victoria Beckham line sparks strong online sales

Dive Brief:
  • Victoria Beckham's Target collection, which launched on Sunday, has broken online sales records for the retailer’s design partnerships without the attendant frenzy that irritated customers in past collaborations, notably its 2015 Lilly Pulitzer effort, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports.

  • The Lilly Pulitzer limited release saw several resellers scoop up items in order to sell for higher than Target’s own price tags, leaving racks empty, customers fuming and the retailer's website crashing.

  • Target took pains to order larger qualities of the Beckham collection, according to the report. Victoria Beckham’s website did crash, though: She had made available some items abroad for those who didn’t have access internationally to Target’s site (or stores). “I am overwhelmed by your response to my #VBxTarget collaboration launch! Thank you for your patience and sorry for any frustration! x VB,” she tweeted Sunday.

Dive Insight:

After frustrations following its Missoni and Lilly Pulitzer collaborations, Target reportedly has instituted limits designed to prevent resellers from taking advantage of the big box retailer’s attractive prices on its designer goods.

The high fashion tie-ups are a Target innovation from the 1980s, part of the big box retailer’s effort to differentiate its merchandise after its realization that a price war with Wal-Mart was not a battle it could win. In the years since, though, e-commerce has enabled reselling of the items.

Despite the quantity limits and other policies meant to discourage such arbitrage, there are indeed already Victoria Beckham items for sale on eBay (which is advertising the collection with a banner) at prices that are twice that on Target’s own website.

It’s a problem for Target that causes it to miss out on the chance to connect with and please its customers. The practice doesn’t always pan out for sellers, either. There was a similar mania at Target during its limited Missoni run, in which dozens of items appeared for sale on eBay. In reality, writes financial writer Ann Logue, many of those items didn’t sell because the markups were too high, and in fact there are still loads of Target Missoni items for sale on eBay even today that don’t appear to be moving anywhere.

While reselling clearly still occurred, it seems the retailer may have mostly solved its arbitrage problem, considering the fact that the collection is breaking e-commerce records with a more subdued sales run and many items still available in Target stores and online. "We saw quite a bit of commentary on social media from our guests praising Target for the online experience, which has not always been the case in the past," Target spokesperson Joshua Thomas told the Star Tribune.

The pre-launch event for select Target REDcard holders had a muted reception, Thomas told the paper. Some 500 REDcard holders — who also enjoy free shipping on all online orders and 5% off purchases — received invitations to attend pre-launch events April 8 at five Target stores nationwide. About half the expected 200 guests attended, according to the report.


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