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What killed Toys R Us

CNN reports that the massive debt is what killed Toys R Us. That may be true, and God knows, I’m not a numbers girl (although I have other virtues), so I will leave that part of the demise of the toy company to the Wall Streeters, but there is more than $$ when it comes to what brought down the toy giant.

Toys R Us stores are shelf after shelf of toys to purchase. Toys in their boxes, which let’s face it, doesn’t make the ‘experience’ of shopping there anything other than an exercise in finding what you came for, picking it up, waiting in line to pay and then exiting the store. And, since the sense of urgency around picking up a toy is not really in play, why would anyone go into the store when they can have the same exact experience without pleasure online in five minutes.

Toys R Us, if they were paying attention over the past five years of customer acquisition and loyalty, would have realized they were in the perfect position to provide an experience with a purchase call to action at the end of it that would have made coming to the store a destination of pleasure for their customers.

When you go to Walmart, there is a plethora of food to taste - made from the food for sale. There are hot dogs for $.99 and some say you can go for lunch and just taste everything without paying a dime. If you go into Barnes and Noble, you can sit and have a cup of coffee and browse through the books. The experience of being there is what draws people in.

The Toys R Us Facebook page has more than 4 million followers. But the engagement on this posts should have told them they didn’t get it. Putting up things to buy and say come in and buy them is not engaging in cementing a committed follower base. Where is the fun? Where is the entertainment? Where is the payoff? God knows, with the numbers they were doing in volume they could have owned the market in giveaways on social media. Fun contests. Videos on who to build things. Asking a five year old to send a video about why they want a toy for Christmas? Facebook live with Santa in the North Pole? Need I go on? Instead, most of their posts were infomercials for a product or other. #HowDidThatWorkForYou?

What surprises me a about things like this is that huge companies, with much larger budgets than the independent bookstore I follow faithfully because she puts up content that matters to me (and then I want the book), just don’t get the new road to success.

I’m sorry to see them go. I bought my daughter’s first Beanie Baby there thirty whatever years ago. Learn from the mistakes of others saith smart people.

Christine Merser, Managing Partner

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