Fashionistas Crash Target's Website

Target's Web site is still struggling after it crashed earlier Tuesday when online shoppers flooded the site to get in on a low-priced line of high-fashion clothes and accessories.

The retailer's Web site 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, caused such a rush of eager shoppers that the retailer's servers couldn't take the pressure.

Users trying to reach the website around 3:30 EDT 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 tweets, tweeting to one frustrated person, "We understand there are some technical difficulties on Target.com and are working on getting them fixed."

Dan Olds, an analyst with The 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 added. "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 also noted that a lot of people reading about Target's troubles might not have heard about Missoni before. "However, they might now be curious and could wander over to Target.com to check it out," he said.

Target pumped 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 @sgaudin or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed . Her e-mail address is sgaudin@computerworld.com .

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