2018 was a tumultuous year for Toys “R” Us Canada to say the least – but it seems to have ended on a high note.
The 2018 holiday season was the first for Toys “R” Us Canada since their parent company in the U.S. closed all locations.
It was also the first holiday season since they were acquired by Fairfax Financial Holdings in June.
While results from the holiday shopping season are still coming in, Toys “R” Us Canada, under the direction of president Melanie Teed-Murch. As we enter 2019, it seems that Teed-Murch has big plans for what’s in store for the Canadian company. Here’s what’s been announced:
1. New concept stores.
The 2018 holiday season was the first one with new concept stores in the mix.
In Guelph Toys “R” Us Canada opened up a 10,000 sq. ft. store – much smaller than their usual 30,000-40,000 sq. ft. builds. It’s rumoured that similar stores will be opening in Barrie, Ont. and Langley, B.C.
“It’s intuitive to shop,” Teed-Murch said, as quoted on Retail Insider. “It’s [organized] by age and stage, not by brand.”
According to Retail Insider, the stores also contain more signage to help shoppers find the section they’re looking for, benches to allow parents to sit down while their kids try out toys, and an improved in-store pickup process for online orders.
2. Upgraded shopping centres.
Even the older, larger stores are getting a facelift. Since June, when Fairfax purchased the company, Toys “R” Us Canada has been upgrading half of its 82 stores – including adding seating areas and moving towards smaller shelves that make it easy for children to touch the products. The other 41 stores are scheduled for the same upgrades in 2019.
Newer stores also have rooms available for birthday parties, and even community spaces for events such as lactation expert talks and car seat safety demos, according to The Financial Post.
3. Celebrating birthdays in style.
Speaking of birthday parties, kids who choose to spend theirs at Toys “R” Us can expect an experience. Teed-Murch has said that parties will include a parade around the store with the Geoffrey The Giraffe mascot. More capital has been opened up to allow for better and bigger events like this.
4. E-commerce and mobile investments.
While Toys “R” Us has had an e-commerce presence for nearly 20 years, they’re ramping it up in 2019. Teed-Murch says the company plans to invest in both its mobile and e-commerce website for a better customer experience.
5. Giving back.
Another smart move that Toys “R” Us Canada has made is giving back to the community. Over the 2018 holiday season, they led a national toy drive that donated 700,000 toys to children and families in need across Canada through the Salvation Army and Toronto-based not-for-profit Bay Street for A Cause.
While it’s early yet, it seems that Toys “R” Us is forging a path that could see major success.
There are several lessons other retailers could take from Toys “R” Us Canada:
- Move away from red tape. One of the silver linings to the U.S. bankruptcy is that the Canadian stores can access their budget more easily, meaning they can invest in things like birthday parties and store upgrades. Before, Teed-Murch says a lot of capital was tied up in repairing roofs and parking lots at aging stores.
- Look for in-store opportunities to improve the customer experience. At Toys “R” Us Canada, Teed-Murch is moving to smaller, more local stores, lower shelving, and birthday parties – all things that might appeal to their target demographic: children and the parents of children. While consumers can still shop online, Toys “R” Us is turning into a fun destination for families – not just a store.
- Consider a community cause. Toys “R” Us ran a toy drive, which garnered a lot of good publicity. Ask if your retailer or manufacturer can give back in a similar way that matches your brand.
- Don’t settle for the status quo. While it can be tempting to keep things running as they always have, it’s a good idea to look for ways to improve and where investments can be made. For instance, even though Toys “R” Us Canada already has an e-commerce presence, they are still investing to improve it. Although it’s not certain if any of these ventures will work out, it’s commendable that they are trying.
Storesupport Canada can help your brand put its best foot forward. We consult on digital transformations, store openings, store closings, make sure your product is kept on shelf, and much more.
Contact us today to see how we can help. Call 1-877-421-5081or visit www.storesupport.ca.