Target's latest designer collaboration with the preppy prints label Lilly Pulitzer was a smash hit. Customers swarmed Target's stores and website early Sunday to get their hands on the coveted collection of patterned shift dresses, couch pillows, beach towels, and more.
Shoppers began lining up outside Target stores hours before they opened, and the sheer amount of web traffic crashed the retailer's website multiple times.
Within a matter of hours, the entire limited-time collection sold out.
The shopping event was so popular that it left many customers empty-handed and, as a result, angry. Hundreds of people have vented their frustrations over the retailer's website failings and lack of inventory onsocial media, calling it "ridiculous, " "pathetic, " and an "epic fail."
"I am INCREDIBLY disappointed in Target, " writes one customer on the company's Facebook page. "What a waste of time staying up all night for NOTHING. Why in the world you would make such a hype about this partnership and then not have the site prepared and have so little stock doesn't make any sense to me. Target, SHAME ON YOU."
Facebook user Lynne Gendernalik Schrage said she would no longer be shopping at Target after missing out on the sale, which included dresses for $40 by a designer whose clothes typically cost $300.
"I realize I am just one person, but this person walked out of your store at 8:10 this morning, absolutely and thoroughly disgusted, vowing to cancel my Target [card] that I haven't used in a year ... and also vowing to never shop in your store again, " Gendernalik Schrage wrote.
But overall, the Pulitzer line was a major victory for Target, which hasn't had such a successful designer partnership since the Missoni collaboration debuted in 2011.
Like the Lilly for Target collection, the Missoni debut caused mass hysteria in stores, crashed the website, and sold out in a matter of hours.
But Target's designer collaborations since then haven't generated as much excitement.
A Neiman Marcus partnership in 2013 famously bombed, even though it was launched during the busy holiday shopping season with big-name designers on board including Marc Jacobs, Oscar de la Renta, and Diane Von Furstenberg.
The collection failed so miserably that Target eventually had to discount some of the merchandise by as much as 70%. The main problem with the collection was that designers offered items like yoga mats and dog bowls instead of clothes.
With the Lilly Pulitzer collaboration, Target has proved that it "still rules the roost when it comes to creating buzz with its designer collaborations, " writes Phil Wahba in Fortune.
"Designer collaborations like the Pulitzer line are important to Target, not because they add much to its $73 billion-a-year in sales — they barely make a dent in it — but because they are essential for the discount, mass merchandiser to be able to maintain its 'cheap/chic' cachet, and thereby attract affluent and middle-customers along with lower-income shoppers, and give them a reason to go visit Target instead of Walmart for everyday stuff, " Wahba writes. "In essence, those collections are what make Target Tar-zhay."
Target began debuting designer collaborations more than 15 years ago. Since then, the retailer has partnered with more than 150 designers.