If you never heard the name Lilly Pulitzer before, chances are you’ve heard your fair share in just the past week. The retail giant Target recently unveiled a new line of colorful, designer clothing and home accessories based on the iconic patterns of Lilly Pulitzer, one of America’s most celebrated clothing designers. But the website encountered difficulties, and within minutes the new items were sold out both online and in stores, frustrating shoppers nationwide.
Consumers were disappointed because the new “Lilly Pulitzer for Target” promised to be a more affordable line of Lilly Pulitzer items. Pulitzer, dubbed the “Queen of Prep,” was an American socialite and fashion designer whose juice stand uniform of colorful shift dresses captivated celebrities, first ladies, and social elites in the 1960s – and now preppy ladies everywhere. Her in-demand designs have since expanded to men’s and children’s wear, as well as accessories and home décor. Think of Jackie Kennedy in a pink-and-green flower print dress walking down the streets of Palm Beach in 1962.
With the launch of the eponymous capsule collection at Target came the e-commerce and in-store debacles that occurred nationwide this past Sunday. The uproar began early, with the online launch commencing at 12 a.m. EST. Far from Target’s first capsule collection, these limited edition launches can cause a shopping frenzy or flop altogether.
In 2011, Target had similar issues with the launch of its Missoni for Target collection. The website crashed and with limited quantities, shoppers both online and in-store were left far less fashionable and very disappointed. Just four years later, we have a repeat of the same issues and arguably, on a larger scale.
Many shoppers said Target’s website crashed Sunday morning, but a Target spokesman, Joshua Thomas, said site slowdowns and issues were actually the company’s doing. “The overwhelming online traffic led the retailer to take steps to manage the situation that slowed the site down. At certain times, Target only allowed some customers to access parts of its website. And at one point, Target made the site inaccessible for about 15 minutes in order to grapple with the traffic and avoid a full-blown crash,” said Thomas.
What’s a company to do? Was Target really prepared for the launch of “Lilly Pulitzer for Target”?
Today’s complex IT environments make ‘always on’ availability more perplexing than ever before, especially now that IT has become vital to most business processes.
In a study sponsored by Sungard Availability Services, IDC interviewed more than 900 line-of-business (LOB) and IT executives across a range of industries in the U.S. and U.K. They study found that while LOBs and IT agree about the importance of operational resilience, they have differing views on what creates it.
The firm published a white paper on a similar topic, entitled “Lack of Operational Resilience Will Undermine Enterprise Competitiveness: A Strategy for Availability.” They suggested that operational resilience requires three availability building blocks: information security and data governance, business continuity/disaster recovery, and IT service management.
After delving into the areas of the study such as the respondents’ insufficiency in the areas of risk management structure, ability to respond to security breaches and business operation failures, and structural misalignments, IDC recommends that companies take six steps:
• Develop KPIs, a risk profile and a blueprint for operational resilience
• Perform gap analysis
• Implement strategic change initiatives
• Develop a holistic, enterprise wide governance and risk management system
• Incorporate an optional “sourcing” model for operational resilience
The end goal is to ensure that an organization has all the resources it needs to reach its KPIs and diminish its risks while ensuring operational resilience and agility.
The pressure for enterprises to perform has never been more intense, something the Target issues underscore. “We never want our guests to be disappointed,” Target’s Thomas commented. ”We share their disappointment with the experience of shopping online. It doesn’t match what we aim to provide them, which is an easy, seamless, consistent experience.”
Maybe the best way to prepare for future product rollouts is to establish IT resilience today. That will surely lead to higher customer satisfaction, shareholder value and corporate stability. As Lilly Pulitzer once said, “Being happy never goes out of style.”