Last week, Toys R Us secured its bankruptcy financing and gets another at bat. But having declared bankruptcy right before the ever-important holiday season, the brand will have a tough battle with Amazon for share of wallet. That said, if the retailer is going to survive, it will need to take a longer-term approach, capitalize on its store footprint and make the most of the physical store experience to attract and retain customers.
Here are three brick-and-mortar players that can serve as inspiration for the Toys R Us turnaround:
Benefit Cosmetics, the revenue-generating, keep-em-coming-back store experience
A beauty and cosmetics brand? An unlikely source of inspiration, I know. Beyond providing makeup and skincare products, Benefit Cosmetics has invested in its services – from facials to waxing. This helps them in many ways; it broadens their appeal beyond their products (giving even the most loyal Kiehls fans a reason to visit), the services add an entirely new revenue stream (at a higher margin no less) and those services are quite sticky (hair does grow back, after all).
Toys R Us (and its sister brand Babies R Us) already hosts small events for new parents and specific holidays like Halloween. But what if they turned their store footprint into a services-based revenue source? By converting their stores into a literal product playground, they could charge a rental fee to host birthday parties, for example. Similar to Benefit Cosmetics, Toys R Us will broaden its awareness beyond just its products, add a new revenue stream that takes advantage of its real estate and lastly — create a new loyal segment (birthdays do happen every year, after all).
Athleta, the community-building store experience
The Athleta play is a simple one – be a community ambassador. Sure, they host their fair share of fitness-inspired events – the running groups, the yoga classes and even the occasional dance-meets-cardio session. But beyond this, they host pet adoption fairs and community benefits. These events may have zero tie-in to the products they sell, but they build goodwill and trust between a brand and the neighborhood they inhabit. While the running groups might enhance loyalty, they are less successful at bringing in net-new customers. By broadening the type of events they host, Athleta is also increasing its reach within a new audience segment.
With a bankruptcy under its belt, Toys R Us needs to re-instill trust and expand its reach more than ever. Ahead of the holidays, the brand could look to host a canned food and gently-used toy drive for the victims of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria. They could partner with local nonprofits, schools and shelters to really embed themselves with the community to elevate their visibility beyond just toys.
Lego, the “try-before-you-buy” store experience
Let’s set aside the fact that Lego has a massively successful theme park and series of movies. The brand has a nostalgic appeal and a great in-store experience to boot. Despite the small store footprint, they focus on timely merchandise (such as Star Wars sets) and a dedicated, patient staff.
Most importantly, however – they allow shoppers to help themselves in finding the right pieces to complete their sets. The Pick-A-Brick Walls in the stores encourage discovery, exploration and even construction right then and there. This is a win-win for parents and children alike. Parents can ensure they are getting ALL the right components – saving themselves the headache of a future visit or painful e-commerce search. For children, this makes the shopping trip with mom or dad a whole lot more bearable.
Toys R Us should consider a similar in-store experience – especially for the bigger, more expensive toys. A try-before-you-buy approach — an opportunity to get its youngest shoppers hooked on the right products. And when the right merchandise isn’t in the store, the easy opportunity to order it right then and there for expedited delivery at home.
Which other brands do you think could serve as inspiration for Toys R Us? Whether you’re preparing for this holiday season or to looking to break through the noise in 2018, take a look at our Evolution of Retail: Holiday Consumer Survey to get the leg up on shopping preferences.