Fashion Scalpers Hit Jackpot Reselling Missoni for Target on eBay

Discussion
Sep 23, 2011

Now we have a clearer idea why complete racks of goods in the Missoni for Target line disappeared almost as soon as the discount chain’s doors opened on Sept. 13 good old-fashioned American greed. Just as ticket scalpers used to obtain hard-to-get tickets for sporting and entertainment events and resell them at huge markups, so too have the fashion scalpers that USA Today reports have more than 25,000 Missoni for Target items available for purchase on eBay.

According to USA Today, a $50 Missoni bikini at Target resold at twice the price on eBay. A Missoni ladies bicycle that cost $399 at Target sold for $1,200 on the auction site.

"Is it something we’re pleased with? No," Joshua Thomas, a Target spokesperson told USA Today. "We encourage consumers to be cautious because we can’t validate the authenticity … or guarantee the consumer is getting the best value."

Other retailers selling limited edition goods have been known to limit purchases by consumers. Target, however, did not place restrictions on the number of Missoni items that could be bought.

This latest revelation comes as Target is still facing criticism for failing to fulfill orders it accepted online for the items. In some cases, orders have been cancelled by the company even after credit cards have been charged, it has been alleged. The Star Tribune has reported consumers receiving tracking numbers from the retailer, but UPS has no record of the packages.

Discussion Questions: What do you think are the lessons to be learned from Missoni for Target fiasco? Will this situation result in Target gaining or losing customers when all is said and done?

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18 Comments on "Fashion Scalpers Hit Jackpot Reselling Missoni for Target on eBay"

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Doron Levy
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Doron Levy
6 years 2 months ago

Scalpers have no loyalty, so if the majority of buys were for resell, Target has a problem. I’m quite surprised that they didn’t put any limits on it. They were doing their regular customers a disservice by allowing resellers to consume product. Target should exercise its right to limit quantities in the future when selling super hot items. Target is not in the wholesaling business.

Tony Orlando
Guest
6 years 2 months ago
It is not Target’s fault at all, as opportunistic people did what anyone trying to make a buck would do. Pure capitalism at its best, in my opinion. I’ve had customers from restaurants and food trucks come in and buy my crazy meat deals (which I made money on), and in turn made a profit in their ventures. Nobody broke the law, and Target should have put limits on the hot deal to prevent this from happening. Also, no one is forcing anyone at gunpoint to buy these items on eBay, so next time, limit the sale to prevent what… Read more »
Gene Hoffman
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Gene Hoffman
6 years 2 months ago

In the Missoni for Target matter, the scalpers did a better job than did Target of evaluating the demand of Missoni merchandise. Perhaps Target should use a test panel of scalpers before future product entries since they frequently have a better feel for opportunities.

When this matter has passed, I suspect Target will be helped a little since no other retailer recently has come out with such highly accepted items.

Dick Seesel
Guest
6 years 2 months ago

Goods were showing up on eBay on the day of the launch…and, as Tony says, it’s a free country. However, the underlying issue is Target’s complete mismanagement of the Missoni launch. From the lack of inventory (in stores and online), to the poor replenishment, to the website crashes, this is a disappointment from beginning to end, considering the marketing muscle that Target put into it. It’s great to have a brand image centered on “design,” not so great to have a brand image lingering on bad execution.

Carol Spieckerman
Guest
6 years 2 months ago

Target’s planned scarcity fashion model is more than played out and it is the antithesis of customer engagement. Between the stock-outs, site crash and brand-devaluing rush to eBay, the Missoni mess delivered a 3-strikes-you’re-out wallop. Target will have to determine whether the “buzz” was worth it from a customer relationship perspective and in the meantime, their biggest challenge may be wooing big-name designers for the next round.

Art Williams
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Art Williams
6 years 2 months ago

I believe Target has gained name recognition for Missoni for Target and a lot of buzz over this. Their inability to manage the situation is an embarrassment but I think the net net will be positive for them. I’m guessing that other retailers would be happy to endure the red face in return for the brand excitement.

Ed Rosenbaum
Guest
6 years 2 months ago
For sure Target is not the loser here. In fact, the only potential losers are those whose credit card has been charged and no order fulfillment as yet. Target is fine. they sold product at their definition of fair market value and received not only good business, but a heck of a lot of press, both good and bad. Even the bad press will bring people to the stores. I am impressed by the planning and execution of the scalpers with no leadership organization behind them. Simply a group of individuals having the forethought of how to make a lot… Read more »
Bill Emerson
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Bill Emerson
6 years 2 months ago

The really surprising part of this story is how a company as well-organized and well-executed as Target could so completely underestimate the demand for this merchandise. I know there are merchants and planners at Target. From what I’ve seen, they are very good at their jobs. How they could have so under-estimated the response to this deal is amazing.

There were a lot of disgruntled customers in my neighborhood, but, given the low expectations most consumers have about retail today, I can’t imagine there will be any long-lasting damage.

Matthew Keylock
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Matthew Keylock
6 years 2 months ago

Target has customer data from many of their best customers.

It would seem an ideal opportunity to leverage this and provide the appropriate special opportunities for those who are continually loyal (I don’t mean by spend or profit metrics only!) to the Target brand. It may make the logistics a little harder, but could create some real emotional engagement and some exciting in-store experiences if done right.

Joan Treistman
Guest
6 years 2 months ago
I think that customers will be upset with Target. I know my daughter is. Target should find some way to appease those who didn’t get the merchandise but were charged on their credit cards (whether or not the charges were cancelled). From my sample of one I know it took some time and effort to make the original purchase and items for sale were disappearing while shoppers were waiting to complete their orders. Watching the sales of Missoni suggests there is still an operative supply vs. demand dynamic regardless of the economy. There is a lesson in this for retailers… Read more »
Ed Dennis
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Ed Dennis
6 years 2 months ago
The lesson we should all learn is that this is America. We still have people here who have the fortitude to take a chance to make money. I bet this particular economic recovery act was initiated by someone who is out of a job and looking for a way to make a living. You employers, go find this guy or gal — they are what you need. Haven’t any of you heard about the gleaners who go through Big Lots buying up bargains and reselling them on eBay? Thousands of people are making an honest living in tough times by… Read more »
Michael Tesler
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Michael Tesler
6 years 2 months ago

I totally agree with Art Williams. The buzz created about Missoni merchandise at Target that “everybody wants” and can’t get is a marketing win. Scarcity in fashion goods is a plus. Mainstream apparel sellers like Costco and TJX plan quick turnover of non replenished items in order to create an urgency and a must buy it now approach in consumers because they fear it will not be there next time. Stock-outs are a horrible negative in regard to basics, but astute retailers like Target manage to turn it into a plus in relation to fashion goods.

Doug Fleener
Guest
6 years 2 months ago

This whole plan must have looked great on paper. I wouldn’t want to attended the follow-up meeting! I don’t think that in the long-run this is going to cost them any customers, but repeat this fiasco and it will probably cost someone their job.

Harris Loeser
Guest
Harris Loeser
6 years 2 months ago

Sounds to me like a successful promo that enhanced Target’s brand both with awareness and perception of Target having killer deals on great brands.

Great buzz!

Craig Sundstrom
Guest
6 years 2 months ago

Let’s see: items sell-out almost instantly, generate lots of publicity, are re-sold at large markups…I don’t think “fiasco” is the term I’d use.

That having been said, though, it seems certain elements of execution were lacking; and Target may want to revisit playing the SRO game: “cheap chic” implies not just affordable, but available as well.

Kim Tisdale
Guest
Kim Tisdale
6 years 2 months ago
This might be better managed as an online exclusive. Quantities could be limited and, if shipped to a local Target, they could have offered free shipping. I’ve seen many promotions that ended much the same. Someone will create a buzz and promote exclusivity but really there was nothing exclusive about it. Go shopping the day after Thanksgiving and just stand back and watch the craziness from the “bargains.” Anyone remember the Furby or Tickle Me Elmo fiascoes? This has happened in the toy and gaming world for a long time…now it is working its way to grownup upper-class shoppers.
Kim Tisdale
Guest
Kim Tisdale
6 years 2 months ago
This might have been a better online campaign where quantities could be limited. Free shipping could have been offered if shipped to a local Target store. Opportunists always outsmart the average shopper and they have much more dedication to get the merchandise because they can see profits ahead. We just see a cute pair of rain boots. Target created what “Black Friday” shoppers experience every day after Thanksgiving sale. Target created what every Tickle Me Elmo, Furby, Cabbage Patch Doll shopper experienced in those years. Toys and Gaming have created buzz for years…now “chic” upper middle class shoppers are feeling… Read more »
Bob Phibbs
Guest
6 years 2 months ago

The great analysts at Target didn’t realize how high they could have marked up the merch. A classic mistake knowing how high is up — instead of pricing by formula.

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