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Here’s Why Retailer Websites Always Crash During Big Sales

Lilly Pulitzer Target homepage

Image: Target

When a retailer unveils a design collaboration, its website is pretty much automatically expected to crash. This weekend, Target’s website was overloaded with shoppers scrambling to get their hands on the Lilly Pulitzer for Target collection and several disappointed and frustrated customers wound up dealing with error pages. But why does this happen time and time again when retailers are well aware that the overwhelming demand might put their website out of commission – and anger plenty of shoppers along with it?

According to Quartz, the problem lies in the ever-changing way we shop. Even if the retailer can predict how many people they think will shop online, various servers “still don’t handle mobile well, and when smartphone requests get routed back to the retailer’s primary servers, they can result in an unanticipated influx that can bring a site down.”

It seems that in the case of Lilly Pulitzer, Target made the mistake of miscalculating the traffic at the release of the collection. Sure, they wound up pissing off a lot of people, but we wager they’re not too broken up about it – after all, the collection is mostly sold out.

[via Quartz]