Toys R Us is Back with New Stores and a New Digital Experience

The return of Toys R Us will feature a website powered by Target and in-store sensors tracking shopper traffic and cadence.

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Need to Know

  • After declaring bankruptcy and closing almost 800 stores in late 2018, Toys R Us is set to open two new stores and launch a brand new online experience.
  • Target will power the “completely reimagined” website, serving as an online toy shop as well as an educational resource for kids and parents.
  • A partnership with B8ta will deliver data analytics through in-store sensors that study traffic patterns, shopper cadence, and more.
  • B8ta will also enable toy manufacturers to set up mini boutiques within Toys R Us stores.

Analysis

Toys R Us has announced that two new, permanent stores are set to re-open in time for the holiday season. This news comes just one year after the mega toy retailer’s bankruptcy forced every store location to liquidate and close doors. 

This announcement marks the brand’s return to traditional retail, beginning with two new locations in Paramus, New Jersey and Houston, Texas.

TRU Kids, the brand’s new parent company, has teamed up with Target to relaunch the Toys R Us website. As part of this partnership, shoppers who visit ToysRUs.com will be redirected to the Target website before completing their purchase. 

TRU Kids CEO Richard Barry says the brand was drawn to Target’s “already impressive toy business, its strong supply chain and clear understanding of the [toy] category.” 

According to Target’s senior vice president of merchandising, Nikhil Nayar, the absence of Toys R Us last year was palpable. “Toys has always been an important category for Target. Last year, with TRU not being in the marketplace … we accelerated that business.” 

No kidding. According to 2018’s holiday report, Target’s same-store sales were up 5.7%, with the toy category being one of its strongest.

Barry adds that the Toys R Us website has been “completely reimagined.” The new site will not only serve as an online toy shop, but will also become a resource for both parents and their children, featuring top toy lists, videos, and product reviews. “[The new website] is immersive and heavily content-oriented,” Barry said. 

The updated experience doesn’t stop there. TRU Kids has also partnered with B8ta, a software retailer with over a dozen of its own stores in malls across the United States, to enhance the customer in-store experience. 

B8ta’s technology platform will work with individual toy brands to help them create their own “mini boutiques” within Toys R Us. It will also contribute its retail as a service platform to help those brands grow online sales simultaneously. 

B8ta has installed dozens of sensors in the ceilings of the two brick-and-mortar stores that will monitor traffic patterns and shopper cadence, among other metrics, to give brands and TRU Kids access to data and analytics on how the spaces are performing.

Barry says the new stores will feature a high level of interactivity, including a candy exhibit. “We have an amazing number of digital experiences throughout the store, but we also have good old analog [experiences]. … Take the products out of the boxes and kids will be able to get their hands on them.”

Barry adds that toy and entertainment companies have been very positive, giving the company “credit for innovation.” With Target powering the Toys R Us website and ten new stores set to open next year, TRU Kids hopes to restore the brand’s legacy and reimagine how retailers might take advantage of the Toys R Us comeback.

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