From Magic to Tragic (And not just the snow)

Yesterday we heard the news that ToysRUs has gone into administration, hotly followed by electronics retailer Maplin. Two of our biggest retail brands are on the brink of disappearing, and over 5,000 jobs in the UK are now at risk. Is this one more nail in the coffin for the bricks & mortar retail industry? More proof that the monster Amazon is devouring retail brand by retail brand without pause or mercy? Well, yes. And no.

Yesterday we heard the news that ToysRUs has gone into administration, hotly followed by electronics retailer Maplin. Two of our biggest retail brands are on the brink of disappearing, and over 5,000 jobs in the UK are now at risk. Is this one more nail in the coffin for the bricks & mortar retail industry? More proof that the monster Amazon is devouring retail brand by retail brand without pause or mercy? Well, yes. And no.

Would you prefer to drive for half an hour to a gloomy warehouse-style store to buy a large plastic item in a larger cardboard box at a slightly increased price, or order the same item with a click from your kitchen (or living room, bedroom, office, gym, pub…) and get some other guy to deliver it to your door? NO ONE WOULD CHOOSE THE FIRST OPTION.

But looking at things from a different perspective… would you prefer to stay at home on a rainy Saturday afternoon with your bored and grouchy children, or take them to a buzzing store where toys familiar only from the adverts sit ready to be played with, and staff are paid to engage with them? Suddenly a toyshop visit doesn’t sound so unappealing.

Yes of course retail is facing challenges. There are rising costs to contend with in an industry with traditionally tight margins. Online shopping is definitely a thing. And consumer tastes have changed since the 1980s – for example, no child of today thinks ET is cute. (I know, shocking.)

But ToyrsRUs didn’t fail because retail is failing. They failed because they made no investment in their future: No strong online capability. No fun experiences in store. No inspirational brand positioning or consumer promise. They may have been a disruptor brand in 1985, but it seems they’ve spent the last 10 years resolutely ignoring their disruptor successors.

There are many retailers out there – Waterstones, John Lewis, Ikea to name a few – that demonstrate that retail can be successful. You just need to give your customers what they want – which is fair pricing, positive in-store experiences and exceptional customer service before, during and after their purchase.

Toys bring lots of happiness to the world, and there is no one more satisfying to buy a gift for than a child, so it’s a real shame that one of our biggest toy brands may soon be consigned to memory. I personally hope that some one will see the potential in ToysRUs, grab the brand with both hands and catapult it into relevance and appeal with today’s young consumer.

Because there’s nothing better to ‘try before you buy’ than a Nerf Vortex Mega Howler…

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MASH Staffing