The Inside Scoop: Target’s Kathee Tesija Talks Lilly Pulitzer Launch

April 21, 2015 - Article reads in
Target Chief Merchandising and Supply Chain Officer Kathy Tesija

This past weekend, Target introduced its latest limited-edition collaboration with resortwear brand Lilly Pulitzer. To say it caused a frenzy would be a bit of an understatement. So, we sat down for five questions with Kathee Tesija, Chief Merchandising and Supply Chain Officer, to get the inside scoop.

There’s been so much buzz about Target's line with Lilly Pulitzer. How would you describe the launch?
Since we announced our partnership with Lilly Pulitzer earlier this year, the response has been nothing short of incredible, and that buzz has just continued to build. We’ve had more than 150 designer partners, and this is now officially the most talked-about collaboration on social media that we’ve ever had. When we launched on Sunday, we saw heavy traffic to our website and lines outside of many of our stores across the country. Clearly, Target’s guests had this launch marked on their calendars, and the product quite literally flew off of our shelves. By mid-morning, it was essentially sold out.

Did you expect the collection to sell so quickly? If so, why didn’t you have more product in stock?
It’s not uncommon for items from our limited-edition designer collaboration to sell out. What’s unique about this line is how quickly our guests shopped and how much they purchased. We anticipated having enough product to offer the collection for several weeks, but at the end of the day, our guests let us know that they didn’t need that much time to decide that this was a collection they wanted to bring home.

While there’s no doubt that we’ll see plenty of Target’s guests sporting Lilly’s prints this spring, others have expressed disappointment that they weren’t able to get the items they wanted. On top of that, a number of products are being resold online. What’s your response?
One of the things we’re incredibly passionate about at Target is making great design accessible and affordable. When we see product that we’ve created for our guests being resold on the secondary market for a profit, it’s disheartening because it takes away from the very intent of these programs.

When we look at the amount of Lilly Pulitzer for Target product being resold, it translates to roughly 1.5 percent of the collection. While we’d prefer that number to be zero, it tells us that the vast majority of guests who purchased the collection did so with the intent of enjoying it for themselves. That brings a lot of happiness to our team and the Lilly Pulitzer team given how much love and care we invested into this line.

There were early reports that Target's website crashed. Is that the case?
The experience guests had on early Sunday morning wasn’t acceptable. It’s as simple as that. Our goal is to provide an easy, fun experience, whether guests are shopping online or in our stores. We didn’t get there with this launch and for that, we’re sorry.

The website never crashed, but due to high traffic, it was slow and our guests had to wait longer than they should have to access the full collection. That’s frustrating, both for them and for us. We’re taking a close look at what happened. We’re committed to constant improvement, and are laser focused on providing our guests with a great, seamless experience.

For those who are still dying to get their hands on Lilly Pulitzer for Target products, is there any hope? Will you be restocking the line?
The best advice I can offer guests who have their eye on any item from one of our limited-edition collections is to shop early and shop often. We won’t be restocking this collection: once it’s gone, it’s gone. However, if you missed out on the launch, you can still check back at your local Target store over the next few weeks. We have a 14 day return policy for programs like this, so there’s always the chance that someone might return an item that you’re looking to get your hands on!

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