With Toys ‘R’ Us on the brink of bankruptcy, the team needed a strategy and prototype for a future-state store.
The toy store was lacking relevancy. It was a major challenge for parents to visit stores with children, with aisle after aisle of “No, sorry” for one rare “Yes, you can have that.” Once their strength, the toy store’s vast selection added to the stress of finding the one perfect item. Those who knew exactly what they wanted could find it more easily online, and super stores provided good enough convenience at prices that commoditized the category even further.
Meanwhile, children were delving deeper into content outside of the toy store, watching unboxing videos, toy previews and cartoons, and connecting to licenses through apps, games and movie clubs.
We needed to bring the magic back to the toy store—to capture the excitement around content and make it more relevant than the competition.
The Key Insight
If Toys ‘R’ Us was going to compete against a new breed of online and offline competition, their physical stores needed to occupy a unique space within the modern commercial ecosystem. It needed to shift away from selling SKUs and start creating connection with brands, toymakers and the communities that love them.
We developed a strategic vision for the business that focused on connection through play, and on establishing Toys ‘R’ Us as a second stage for the stories behind the toys. We brought our strategic vision to life with:
These components were closely integrated to create a revolutionary customer experience centered on inspiration, interaction and emotional connection.
Within 10 months of beginning this project, we had our first wave of initiatives in pilot in time for the 2015 holiday season. This included a live multi-store trial in partnership with media and content producers, an updated store design look and feel and a technology-enabled format. The data collected has been used to re-imagine store layouts, improve sell-through beyond the store, de-risk toy investment, build better experiences around toy licenses and scale the program to dozens of more stores for the 2016 holiday season.
Finally, and potentially most importantly, it has started to transform parents’ knee-jerk response of “No, sorry” to “Yes! Let’s go to Toys ‘R’ Us.”