November 30, 2012, 12:00 AM

Toys / Hobbies / Sporting Goods

How to make good functionality fun.

Lead Photo

The Hot 100 retailers in the toys, hobbies and sporting goods category have a leg up on many other web retailers because their products tend to be colorful, lend themselves to realistic or action-oriented displays and, quite simply, are fun. But they also face tough competition and therefore have to figure out how to develop features and functions that can win consumers' loyalty.

Consider the following examples:

  • identifies the differences between items like ski bindings with just a few clicks, thanks to the outdoor goods e-retailer's product-comparison engine. Technology tools on the ski-and-skateboard gear retailer's web site enable visitors to compare as many items as they want, and provide extensive information about each item.
  • Recreational Equipment Inc.'s features multiple product filters to help consumers locate the outdoor clothing and equipment that best suits their needs. Filter options include weight of item, brand, size, gender of user, color, price, rating and best use, such as casual or backpacking.

In addition,'s home page features a contemporary, easily navigable design that enables a shopper to view items based on activity, such as skiing, or via categories like "men's clothing." The retailer also conveys an irreverent persona targeting its young adult demographic in multiple ways, such as adding "11 years old and still playing with toys" to its anniversary sale promo. Meanwhile toy retailer also is focused on building unique ties to its customers. For instance, the e-retailer runs contests for its customers, such as a casting call on its blog and its Facebook page to find models for's latest products.

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