Toy giant Toys R Us’ website, ToysRUs.com, relaunched on Tuesday with a new approach: Instead of allowing shoppers to check out on the site, it redirects shoppers to Target.com.
Consumers shopping at Toys R Us online or in its to-be-opened stores will have access to Target’s toy assortment and fulfillment options, Target says.
The relaunch marks the latest step in Toys R Us’ rebirth. The retailer filed for bankruptcy in 2018 and was reborn in early 2019 under a new parent company Tru Kids Inc., which is the parent brand of more than 20 consumer toy and baby brands. Previously, the toy giant announced it will open Toys R Us stores—one in Texas and the other in New Jersey—in time for the 2019 holiday shopping season, with plans to open more stores next year. At the stores, shoppers will be able to interact with toys and purchase products there or on Target.com with the help of a store associate.
While the retailer’s website this year had been information-only, providing shoppers with an FAQ page, Tru Kids corporate information and press releases, the relaunched site features product reviews, trending toys and activities. Consumers can shop for toys by brand, such as Barbie, Disney or Fisher-Price, or by category, such as puzzles or action figures. On the product detail page, instead of an Add to Cart button, a shopper can click on a Buy Now at Target.com button, where she is immediately redirected to that product detail page on Target.com.
From here, the shopper can then add the product to her cart, and Target will fulfill it. Target did not comment on the terms of the deal, and Toys R Us did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
For Target, the deal will help drive new growth, said Nikhil Nayar, senior vice president of merchandising at Target. And Toys R Us gains the help of a leading retailer, says True Kids CEO Richard Barry.
“Our U.S. strategy is to bring back the Toys R Us brand in a modern way through a strong experiential and content-rich omnichannel concept,” he says. “The foundation of that strategy requires the help of a retail industry leader, and Target is the ideal retailer.”
The arrangement is similar to an affiliate relationship between a retailer and an affiliate site, in which shoppers are redirected from the affiliate site for the purchase while the referring site receives a commission, says Sucharita Kodali, an analyst at Forrester Research Inc.
“It should be modestly helpful to both sides, transformational to neither,” Kodali says.
During the 2018 holiday season, Toys R Us was not a retail option for shoppers, and many shoppers instead likely bought from Target or mass merchants Amazon.com and Walmart, Kodali says. Some of the toy sales that Toys R Us would have grabbed last year also may have just evaporated, says Keith Anderson, senior vice president of strategy and insights at ecommerce analytics platform Profitero Ltd.
“When such a key category specialist closes its doors, and supply and demand are related, and without the supply of the physical retail environment, the category suffered as a result,” Anderson says. This is based on Profitero’s client data and the continued trend of technology encroaching on the toy category for gifting, he says.
This trend may continue this year, as 43% of U.S. consumers say they plan to buy toys as gifts for the 2019 holiday season, compared with 47% last year, according to a survey of 2,000 U.S. holiday shoppers in August, conducted by The Harris Poll and advertising technology firm OpenX Software Ltd.
Target linking up with Toys R Us is a good move as it will help the retailer capture more shopper spend this holiday season, says Dallas Lawrence, chief brand officer at OpenX.
“The combination of the deep legacy and affinity for Toys R US combined with the sector leading Target.com buying experience will pay strong dividends for Target this holiday,” Lawrence says.
Amazon is No. 1 in the Internet Retailer 2019 Top 500, Walmart is No. 3 and Target is No. 16.