Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Lilly Sale Mayhem!

I started drafting this post last week and am just now getting it up! As many of y'all know, last Monday (August 19) was the much anticipated Lilly Pulitzer Online Endless Summer Sale. It was ultimate chaos for sure, but I am happy I ended up with at least a few things I really wanted, so I can't complain at all! Anyways, the sale was supposed to begin at 8:00am EST and I, like many others, logged on and had difficulties with the site moving extremely slowly and then crashing. Once it was back up a few hours later I could select color and size for the Pink Polka Dot Cassie dress I really wanted, but it wouldn't go into my tote. Finally once it was in my tote it took lots of refreshing the page before I was able to successfully check out. I then went back hoping to get some Cassie and Somerset dresses in additional colors. I was able to add a Carolina Blue Cassie one to my cart, but when I selected other colors in my size that were supposedly available they wouldn't go into my cart. It turned out they were selling out so fast the online inventory couldn't keep up! I managed to check out successfully with my Carolina blue Cassie, as well as a Chin Chin cooler that was a GWP back in the Spring that I missed out on. So even though it was frustrating with the website issues, I am extremely happy with my purchases and can't wait to get them. As of last Tuesday night (Aug 20) everything I ordered on Monday (Aug 19) had already shipped out, even though Lilly had warned it might take up to two weeks for order processing due to high volume of the sale. As of Thursday I have received all of the purchases I made on Monday!
I was able to check out around lunchtime on Monday. Even though I didn't get everything I wanted and had to deal with inconvenience of site crashing, I feel very fortunate to have gotten a few really great things! Some people were still having problems with shopping the online sale late Monday afternoon and into Monday evening. One of my good friends eventually gave up. After I was able to successfully make my purchases the website still wouldn't cooperate for her. She finally said "perhaps this is God's way of telling me I don't need any more dresses!"
Based on comments on social media, Lilly Lovers seemed much more agitated with the website issues this year than in years past, because it has happened so many times. I have a feeling there will be some major talks at the Pink Palace on what might be a better approach to online sales in the future. As I alluded to earlier, a major issue was not just that the website crashed, but that as they were fixing things some people were able to access them sooner than others, and thus people were not getting a fair shot at merchandise. I saw multiple comments where people were upset because everything they wanted was sold out by the time they were able to get through. (For some reason, the New Years Cheer online sales always seem to have fewer issues with the website crashing. This year during the New Years Sale I was able to get on at 8:00am and make several purchases before I had to leave for work.)

Here are some of my suggestions on how Lilly online sales could be run more smoothly in the future. I have seen variations of these ideas on social media comments and other blogs:

-Instead of having mega online blowout sales twice a year, add a sale section to the Lilly Pulitzer website and add merchandise to it periodically throughout the year. Then have limited periods where sale items are an additional 25-40% off with a checkout code. Both Kate Spade and Tory Burch use this approach, and they would be considered more premier designers than Lilly Pulitzer. J.Crew does this as well. Lilly Pulitzer corporate stores as well as independently owned boutiques run their sales like this throughout the year, so it makes sense that the Lilly corporate website follow suit!

-Have Surprise Sales every 2-3 months with merchandise up to 75% off, advertised to Facebook fans and email subscribers. Kate Spade does this, and I've never had any issues with accessing their surprise sales.

-If Lilly insists on sticking with the two major online sales per year, then have it set up where they replenish online inventory each day, rather than putting everything up for grabs at the initial rush on the first day.

-If the website crashes, completely close the sale so that no one can shop until it is back up and running, so everyone has a fair chance at merchandise.

Also, in the future if you are having issues with the Lilly website during online sale time, be sure to check out some of the participating independently owned signature stores who are doing online sales. They often have different inventory and sometimes even better prices than lillypulitzer.com. Many of them even have free shipping with a minimum purchase. Plus you are supporting a small business! For instance, I got the Tango Orange Cassie Dress I had been wanting for about 66% off from C.Orrico during the sale. This was still full price on the Lilly site!

I hope y'all were successful in getting at least something you wanted during last week's Lilly sale madness! How was your shopping experience, and what suggestions do y'all have for Lilly Pulitzer to improve their online sales in the future?

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