December 2, 2003, 12:00 AM

Mass Merchants:Big and getting better

(Page 5 of 5)

Sears.com
Date
1997
Unique Visitors (monthly)
20,000,000
Site Design
in-house
CRM
Axciom/Teradata
Affiliate Management
Performics
Fulfillment
in-house
Order Management
Broadvision
Web Analytics
E.piphany
Payment Processor
NA
Content Management
MARS
E-Mail Management
Cheetah Mail
Site Search
Mercado
Search Engine Management
in-house

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ToysRUs.com
Dividing to conquer

For the time-strapped Mom who wants the largest selection of toys, good prices, and customer service boxed up and delivered to her door on time, one mouse click to ToysRUs.com does the job. While shoppers might find most of those elements elsewhere online, they won’t find them all in one place, a key to ToysRUs.com’s growing sales. At $340 million last year, they were up 23% from a year earlier, giving the company an estimated 35% of the online toy market, the largest single share.

“Our value proposition is good product, good service, incredible selection at a very sharp price,” says ToysRUs.com president Ray Arthur. Arthur estimates that ToysRUs.com’s online selection is nearly three times that of its closest online competitor.

After a wobbly start in 1999 plagued by fulfillment issues, ToysRUs.com made news and deep-sixed its shipping problems in 2000 with an alliance that split off fulfillment and site operations to Amazon. Jupiter Research analyst Patti Freeman Evans says the deal has been a win for both and critical to ToysRUs.com’s growth.

“They have separated out the functions of their online business so that the Toys R Us Group does what they do really well, merchandising and planning, and given to Amazon the part that Amazon does really well, site presentation and order fulfillment. Toys R Us has been able to build this big assortment and make interesting merchandise partnerships while letting Amazon worry about site functionality and customer service,” she says.

ToysRUs.com takes in 70% of its revenue in the weeks before Christmas, which makes getting shoppers to return during the rest of the year a priority. To do that, it’s developed other sites that target families with children at different development stages, introducing parents to the brand at BabiesRUs.com and leading them through preteen and teen years with offerings like the educationally focused Imaginarium.com, personalized gift site PersonalizedGifts by ToysRUs.com and new sporting goods site SportsRUs.com.

Though it’s a separate company, ToysRUs.com leverages the 50-plus-year-old brand power of the brick-and-mortar Toys R Us Inc. The Toys R Us Big Book catalogs, for example, feature computer icons and item numbers next to most toys, indicating online availability. The web site returns the favor with market intelligence. For instance, when preselling popular toys online before release, it shares customer response to help Toys R Us stores plan inventory.

As with other leading retailers, the web is assuming a role at ToysRUs-.com that reaches beyond transactions. “It’s an information tool, a communication device, and a vehicle for delivering content that keeps people connected to the Toys R Us family,” Arthur says.

ToysRUs.com
Date
1999
Unique Visitors (monthly)
4,465,000*
Sales (annual)
$340,000,000
Site Design
in-house/Amazon.com
CRM
in-house
Affiliate Management
Amazon.com
Fulfillment
Amazon.com
Order Management
Amazon.com
Web Analytics
in-house/Amazon/ WebTrends
Payment Processor
Amazon.com
Content Management
in-house
E-Mail Management
Amazon.com
Site Search
Amazon.com
Search Engine Management
Amazon.com
*As reported by comScore Networks Inc.

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