Toys “R” Us once the warehouse of toys and the retailer of choice for many Americans boys and girls is now finding it hard to adjust to a digital native child and parent.
But in my opinion, all is not lost for this once popular retailer that once was the go-to for parents looking to put a smile on their kids face. At the end of the day, this shopping center for toys fell into the same trap most shopping centers fell into - lack of a unique experience, mediocre customer service and competition from the shopping center killer Amazon.
Just like any of today’s successful retailers, creating an experience in the stores and focusing on customer experience will increase sales and traffic to this once iconic toy store. But what do we do about Amazon? Focus on what Amazon can’t do - provide that in-person human interaction with stellar customer service, create avenues for kids to play with toys that they must bring home to continue the fun, and create opportunities for experience and discovery that tie into an online experience.
And we did mention that this new customer is in a large part digital native so leveraging the many avenues to engage with these customers is paramount to a successful retailer in this new experience economy. The many types of technology that are available today make it easy to engage with consumers, collect data and gain strategic insights that will help further engage with the consumer and convert each visit into a purchase and each customer interaction to a return visit. Keep in mind we visit Yoni’s Coffee shop every day because Yoni knows what kind of coffee I like and what my kids are doing in school – it’s a plus if Yoni has a selection of the best coffee in the world.
Understanding the customer with the use of data collected throughout the customer journey is essential to running a successful retail business but in the case of Toys “R” Us it also provides an opportunity to brands interested in finding out what their ideal consumer is interested in. The Walt Disney Company for instance, has started doing kid-centric focus groups where they meet with small groups of preschoolers and kindergartners to get their opinion on episodes in development for a series. This same model could prove to be a new revenue generator for a retailer like Toys “R” Us with a built-in audience of kids.
Now what about the many opportunities technologies like AI offers today’s modern-day retailer? An AI enabled Geoffrey the Giraffe in stores greeting guests or an online customer service chatbot named Geoffrey who can answer all the questions you have about a certain product?
What Amazon has managed to do in its rise to retail domination is; Accept occasional failure as the price of innovating, Work every day like it’s your first day in business and Give customers what they want before they know they want it ... pretty simple operating principles that can be applied to the Toys “R” Us business.