WAYNE, N.J., Sept. 12, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Toys"R"Us, Inc. today unveiled some of the company's key holiday initiatives at a special preview event for business retail reporters in New York City. Richard Barry, Executive Vice President, Chief Merchandising Officer, Toys"R"Us, Inc., a 27-year veteran of the global retailer and member of the company's Executive Committee, addressed the state of the company and the retail landscape as a whole. He also set the stage in identifying the company's competitive advantages as it heads into the all-important holiday period. Also presenting at the event was Fred Argir, Senior Vice President, Chief Digital Officer, Toys"R"Us, Inc., who, in his first Christmas season at the helm of the company's $1.1 billion global e-commerce business, provided his unique insight and vision surrounding the company's omnichannel offerings, as well as investments being made in its mobile capabilities.
Mr. Barry addressed how the company continues to counterbalance the effect of the uncertain economic environment and impact of the multi-year decline in birth rates on the toy industry, as well as the declines in select businesses, such as video games and electronics. Mr. Barry noted that the company remains fully focused on introducing innovative programs and accelerating distinctive services to benefit consumers.
"As the holiday shopping season gets underway, our seasoned leadership team is executing an aggressive plan to fortify the rightful place of Toys"R"Us as THE toy authority," Mr. Barry told reporters. "Our unmatched product differentiation, unique services and value offerings continue to set us apart, and we look forward to unveiling new and exciting initiatives throughout the holiday season that consumers will appreciate – today is just a small sampling of what's in store."
Reinventing and Evolving the Toy Box
At today's preview event, Mr. Barry discussed the company's overall merchandising strategy for the 2013 season and beyond, which will continue to center heavily on differentiation and breadth of assortment, while simultaneously introducing new product categories and expanding growth areas. As part of this effort, the company has made a significant investment in developing an improved shopping experience for its customers. Shoppers will begin to see these significant changes in the majority of Toys"R"Us stores in October. This includes enhancing product categories that have experienced sales growth over the past few years, such as Education, Tablets and Construction, while reducing the space dedicated to areas that have underperformed over time. Mr. Barry spoke to a variety of exclusive items in these growth categories, as well as other expected seasonal standouts that can only be found at Toys"R"Us, including Cra-Z-Loom™ from Cra-Z-Art®, Crazy Cart™ from Razor™, Sew Cool Sewing Machine from Spin Master™ and The Zelfs™ Design Your Zelf from Moose Toys.
The Toy Authority Also Serves as THE Education Destination
In fiscal 2012, the company's Learning business, which includes crafts, science, books, construction and electronic learning aids, accounted for 22.3% of net sales for Toys"R"Us in the United States alone, and continued to be one of its strongest areas of growth. Understanding this category's prevalence, the company sought to take advantage of the opportunity to cultivate this business even more significantly, further differentiating the brand from its competitors on a year-round basis.
To this end, Mr. Barry shared that the company has increased space allocated to learning merchandise to create one cohesive education statement in stores, enabling parents and teachers alike to shop products with ease. New this season, a dedicated Imaginarium shop has set in-store, and customers will now notice a whole aisle dedicated to all-new educational products, such as Microscopes and Telescopes from Edu Science, Language Learning Programs from Little Pim® and Musical Instrument sets from Melissa and Doug®.
The company's depth of ownership in the category, coupled with exclusive offerings and first-to-market ownership of hot new learning items, continue to set the global retailer apart from the competition. Furthermore, the development of the company's private brand learning products and addition of educational products used by teachers in schools, and not widely sold in mass retailers, differentiates Toys"R"Us as THE destination for parents, teachers and kids for all learning items.
Continuing to Capitalize on Construction
One of the top growth categories in the toy industry, the Construction business has been booming and Toys"R"Us will continue to capitalize on this area's strength. This fall, the company will install a "Shop within a Store" in approximately 300 of its stores, showcasing major construction brands, such as LEGO® and Mega® Bloks, expanding the space by approximately 50 feet to reinforce the company's position as the category leader and create an even more compelling shopping experience for "R"Us customers.
The company will also feature approximately 70 LEGO exclusives this holiday season, including Legends of CHIMA™ the Crock Swap Hideout and Star Wars Jedi Defender Class Cruiser, among countless others.
Creating a One-Stop Experiential Tablet Hub In-Store for Kids and Families
In yet another area of substantial growth, Toys"R"Us, Inc. experienced a triple digit sales increase in tablet and tablet accessories from 2011 to 2012. Industry results indicate that the use of tablets will continue to grow double digits among children ages 0-11 over the next two years1. At the same time, the industry as a whole has seen continued softness in the video game business. To counteract overall declines in the company's Entertainment and Electronics business, which includes video game software and hardware, the company will add new business segments, including the installation of easy-to-navigate 32-foot shops that will showcase 25 tablets that can be tested and engaged with by kids and parents alike. These shops are expected to set in the majority of Toys"R"Us locations by October.
Exclusive products such as Kurio® 10s by Techno Source™ and the company's recently announced tabeo™ e2 are among the new devices that will make Toys"R"Us a true kids and family tablet destination.
To assist shoppers in finding the right tablet for their family and provide trusted information about tablet details to help customers make informed buying decisions, the company will launch a dedicated Online Tablet Guide to complement the in-store experience in the coming weeks.
Enhancement of Omnichannel Offerings
Over the past several years, Toys"R"Us, Inc. has experienced double digit growth in its global e-commerce business, with much of that increase attributed to its omnichannel initiatives. By leveraging its $1.1 billion e-commerce operation and vast store network, the company has built robust omnichannel capabilities enabling customers to shop with Toys"R"Us wherever, whenever and however they choose. At today's event, Mr. Argir shed light on the company's go-forward omnichannel strategy and highlighted enhancements it is making this holiday season as it continues to improve the overall customer experience. This strategy, combined with its growing e-commerce and mobile businesses, have positioned the company as a leader in the omnichannel space. Updates for the 2013 holiday season include:
- Online shoppers can now place a "Buy Online, Pickup In Store" order on Toysrus.com and it will be ready for pickup in under an hour, improving the wait time from three hours
- "Ship to Store" orders will now be available for pickup in 5-10 days, improving the fulfillment time from 7-14 days
- Stores will be equipped with a secondary in-store pickup location later this fall, as the company is enabling Wish List kiosks with check-in technology, making the process faster and easier for customers
- Later this fall, "Ready for Pickup" emails that are sent to customers once their order is available will include a map of where the pickup location is positioned within the store, contributing to the ease with which a customer can retrieve their order
During his presentation, Mr. Argir also discussed investments the company is making in the mobile space, citing rapid mobile growth in the retail industry as a whole. Toys"R"Us, Inc. will continue to work to capitalize on this rising channel through significant improvements to its mobile commerce capabilities that will be introduced later this year.
Comprehensive Marketing Strategy, Including Great Rewards for Loyalty Members
The company will also roll out an aggressive marketing program this holiday, providing customers exceptional values and deals every day from now until Christmas, while taking away any doubt they are receiving a great price.
Toys"R"Us, Inc. announced it is offering its customers a number of compelling reasons to shop early this holiday season with a comprehensive package of valuable incentives designed to alleviate the stress of the last-minute hunt for gifts, including:
- The company's approximately 35 million Rewards"R"Us loyalty program members have the opportunity to earn 10% back, up to $100, on qualifying toy purchases through October 31. Better yet, these earnings will be delivered via an e-gift card – with no exclusions – in November, in time to complete their holiday shopping. Rewards"R"Us members who take advantage of layaway can also participate.
- Back by popular demand, FREE layaway will be offered through December 15 with no upfront service fee and no minimum purchase requirement. New this year, after an order is created in-store, subsequent payments can be made online at Toysrus.com.
- A series of new pricing initiatives, including the recently announced expansion of Price Match Guarantee, showcases the values Toys"R"Us offers its customers daily on key items, removing any doubt that they're getting a great deal.
- A new extended return policy allows customers to shop with even more confidence now for their holiday purchases, knowing they can make returns through January 25.
The retailer will also amp up its loyalty incentives throughout the holiday season. With approximately 35 million members and counting, Rewards"R"Us® customers enjoy members-only deals, hassle-free offers and returns, plus "R"Us® credit cardholders enjoy all above awards coupled with double points for in-store purchases and 15% off at sign up2.
As it begins to implement these seasonal incentives for its best customers, the company announced that from Thursday, September 19 through Saturday, September 21, it will offer a Friends & Family 20% off coupon for loyalty members, while "R"Us credit cardholders will receive 25% off through this promotion, valid at all "R"Us stores nationwide and online at Toysrus.com3.
Toys"R"Us will be fully focused on customer relationship management this holiday season with targeted communications to customers, based on personal preferences and past purchasing habits. The company continues to enhance its online marketing vehicles, tailoring communications to give customers what they want while sharing the most appropriate news and deals across traditional media outlets, such as print, TV and radio, and expanding its reach throughout digital and social channels.
For the latest news about the 2013 holiday season at Toys"R"Us, visit "R" Holiday Press Room at http://www.toysrusinc.com/press-room/2013-r-holiday-press-room/.
1 Source: eMarketer, June 2012
2 Some exclusions apply. See coupon for details and expiration date. 15% discount is in lieu of the standard 10% account opening discount and cannot be combined with the 10% discount.
3 Purchase must be made with an "R"Us credit card in order to receive 25% off discount. Subject to credit approval for one-time use only in-store and/or online. Exclusions apply. See coupon for details.
About Toys"R"Us, Inc.
Toys"R"Us, Inc. is the world's leading dedicated toy and juvenile products retailer, offering a differentiated shopping experience through its family of brands. Merchandise is sold in 877 Toys"R"Us and Babies"R"Us stores in the United States and Puerto Rico, and in more than 685 international stores and over 170 licensed stores in 35 countries and jurisdictions. In addition, it exclusively operates the legendary FAO Schwarz brand and sells extraordinary toys in the brand's flagship store on Fifth Avenue in New York City. With its strong portfolio of e-commerce sites including Toysrus.com, Babiesrus.com, eToys.com and FAO.com, it provides shoppers with a broad online selection of distinctive toy and baby products. Headquartered in Wayne, NJ, Toys"R"Us, Inc. employs approximately 70,000 associates annually worldwide. The company is committed to serving its communities as a caring and reputable neighbor through programs dedicated to keeping kids safe and helping them in times of need. Additional information about Toys"R"Us, Inc. can be found on Toysrusinc.com. Follow Toys"R"Us, Babies"R"Us and FAO Schwarz on Facebook at Facebook.com/Toysrus, Facebook.com/Babiesrus and Facebook.com/FAO and on Twitter at Twitter.com/Toysrus and Twitter.com/Babiesrus.
SOURCE Toys"R"Us, Inc.