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Target Steps in it With Hunter Brand Launch Issues

Exclusive, limited editions collaborations are meant to drive excitement—and traffic—to retailers. And the Target x Hunter mash-up has done just that. Unfortunately, apparent supply chain issues have left some fans empty-handed.

For anyone hoping to score a pair of the brand’s signature tall rain boots, what they found when they clicked onto the site or hit the aisles was bad news.

Under enticing photos from the collection, Target posted a sobering note to shoppers that reads:

“Product Update: For guests eyeing the women’s tall rain boots, unfortunately they are delayed and won’t be available in stores or online when the collection launches. We apologize for any disappointment and we’ll share more information when we can. In the meantime, get ready to shop more than 300 items across this limited-edition lifestyle collection, including other styles of women’s footwear.”

Fun, limited-edition designer collaborations are almost synonymous with the Target brand.

Over the years, the bull’s eye has brought us cheap and cheerful collections from Victoria Beckham, Marimekko, Toms and Jason Wu, making budget fashionistas very happy—except for a couple of notable cases.

The most recent was in 2015 when the retailer teamed up with Lilly Pulitzer. Right on cue, shoppers started mapping out their plans for getting their hands on the print-driven resort wear. Much ado was made in the news, in blogs and across social media. Unfortunately, the interest outstripped Target’s e-commerce capabilities, leaving the company scrambling to avoid going completely dark.

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Speaking at the ShopTalk retail convention last month, Target CEO Brian Cornell referenced the Lilly Pulitzer snafu when discussing the turning points retailers face when “your business model and customer expectations begin to diverge.”

“Our guests lined up early and picked the shelves clean but heavy demand brought our website to its knees,” Cornell recalled, adding that it was decision time for the retailer. “How do you prevent something like that from happening again? One very real consideration at the time was to simply take all of our limited time offers offline, insist that if you wanted to shop the collection, you had to come into our stores.”

Instead of taking such a drastic step, he said, the company decided to invest in its online experience instead.

Now at another apparent decision point, it will be interesting to learn if Target will need to take steps toward addressing whatever logistics operations, product development speed or supply chain transparency shortcomings resulted in a Hunter launch minus the iconic boots.