Here's Why CE Retailers Could Benefit from Toys R Us’s Demise
As a kid who grew up running up and down the aisles of the local Toys R Us around the corner from my house, the thought of Jeffrey the Giraffe going extinct is one that makes me incredibly sad. That’s the situation that the lone toy-focused big box store in the U.S. faces as all of its 875 Toys R Us and Babies R Us locations could shutter by as soon as next week.
If that were to happen, it would be a devastating blow not only to the brick and mortar retail industry, but also the toy industry in general. In particular, as CNN Money pointed out, it would create all kinds of trouble for some iconic brands like Barbie and Lego, which are already struggling as it is.
The blow would be somewhat softened by the existence of physical retail giants like Target and Walmart—each of which have fairly significant toy sections in their brick and mortar locations. And, of course, there’s the online shopping segment that exists, which, for all intents and purposes, is really what did in a company like Toys R Us.
But there’s a real opportunity here for the consumer electronics retail segment to step up and provide a helping hand to the toy industry in a way that maybe a large operation like Toys R Us never could.
If you think about a show like the Toy Fair in New York, which Dealerscope recently attended, the show has essentially evolved into a tech show. In years past, there might’ve been a section of the Javits center where tech toys were cordoned off and separated from the rest of the exhibits. Today, though, tech toys are visible in every booth, across far reaches of the Toy Fair show floor, and totally dominate the conversation around all things toy-related.
And that’s where a tech retailer could position itself as a friend of the toy industry, giving those lesser-known brands an opportunity to still get face time with younger shoppers and—more importantly—their parents who are looking to get those little rascals out of the house for a few hours.
Now, needless to say, this isn’t a strategy that’s going to work for all consumer electronics retailers out there. But who’s to say you can’t start marketing yourself, and your tech toys, as a perfect place to take the kids on the weekend to check out the latest tech toys that have come to market? That’s not to say that you need to start dedicating a zone of aisles to Barbies and Hot Wheels. But why not consider installing a drone cage in your store where kids can come test drive those flying RC cars? Or how about a little sandbox-like area where all of the new robot droids and animals are charged up and ready to be trotted out? Or what about a small section of board games that have some sort of tech aspect to them? Plenty of retailers already have some of these strategies or sections deployed in their stores, and they might be in the best position to capitalize on this kind of opportunity if Toys R Us does ultimately go under.
Get in the Game
It might seem like a silly idea, but there’s a bigger picture that a CE retailer who’s capable of this kind of strategy shift should realize: Sure, you’re new offering hits at a much lower age range and the margins on toys might not really make it seem that worth it. But think about what getting this new type of “clientele” into your store is actually accomplishing.
First, you’re new kid customers didn’t get there on their own. They were driven to your store by adults. The same adults who might take an interest in some of the other product that you have throughout the rest of your store. While little Johnny and Sara are off flying the new DJI drone around your drone cage, Dad could be off looking at some new home theater speakers or the latest LG SIGNATURE TV.
Thinking even bigger picture, there’s the brand awareness that the retailer is creating with those younger clients. As kids grow up in a store where they get to physically interact with toys, there’s the potential that—God willing—years down the line when they’re in the market for a bigger piece of technology, they’d consider coming back to the place where they wasted away their youth to make that purchase as an adult.
Those might be some lofty goals to set for simply placing some tech toys in one’s store, but the benefits and possible outcomes aren’t really that farfetched.