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Fashionistas crash Target's website

Retailer's new Missoni product line goes a bit off target

September 13, 2011 03:57 PM ET

Computerworld - Target's website is still struggling after it crashed earlier Tuesday when online shoppers flooded the site to check out a low-priced line of high-fashion clothes and accessories.

The retailer's website was intermittently up and down after it began selling items from the Missoni Italian fashion house early Tuesday morning. The Missoni for Target collection, which includes clothing, dinnerware and linens, drew such a rush of eager shoppers that Target's servers couldn't handle the pressure.

Users trying to reach the website around 3:30 Eastern time received the message, "woof! We are suddenly extremely popular. You may not be able to access our site momentarily due to unusually high traffic. Please stay here and we'll try to get you in as soon as we can!"

At 1:30 p.m., Target tweeted, "Apologies to #Target shoppers mad for #MissoniforTarget -- we're working on getting Target.com back up!"

The retailer was also busily replying to users' angry Twitter posts. "We understand there are some technical difficulties on Target.com and are working on getting them fixed," it tweeted in response to one frustrated individual.

Dan Olds, an analyst at Gabriel Consulting Group, said it's tough on any company that pumps up a new product line and then fails to deliver right from the start.

"It's hard to be prepared for every spike in online demand, but you'd think that Target would have anticipated the huge load arising from this introduction and planned for it," he said. "However, the outage is receiving some attention, and that might not be a bad thing. I'd guess that a lot of the people reading about Target's crashed servers might not have been aware of their Missoni-designed products."

Olds noted that a lot of people reading about Target's troubles may never have heard of Missoni before. Now however, "they might now be curious and could wander over to Target.com to check it out," he said.

Target drummed up a lot of the excitement using social networking. The retailer promoted the new Missoni line on its Facebook page but today did not address the site outage there.

Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at Twitter @sgaudin, or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed Gaudin RSS. Her email address is sgaudin@computerworld.com.

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