EBay on Wednesday unveiled its holiday Toy Book, touting not just the hot toys of the year but also rare and retro items found through its marketplace.
Print copies of the catalog are being mailed to millions, with 4 million slimmer versions found in People magazine on newsstands and sent to People subscribers. The Toy Book will be distributed starting Nov. 16 at eBay's Toytopia pop-up at New York City's Chelsea Market, the company told Retail Dive in an email.
The e-commerce marketplace giant joins Target and Amazon in printing a toy tome this year. All represent moves to grab market share in the absence of Toys R Us, which made more than $1 billion in toy sales. The liquidated toy retailer is operating as a shadow of its former self, using remnants of its intellectual property, as Geoffrey's Toy Box.
EBay is joining the scramble for Toys R Us' ceded sales and also to take some pages from the old playbooks of legacy retailers like J.C. Penney and Sears, and stuffing those pages in customers' mailboxes. It remains to be seen, however, which, if any, retailer emerges as the top taker of the market share relinquished by Toys R Us.
For now, competition is fierce and retailers are leaving little to chance. EBay is differentiating itself with the opportunity to buy antique or rare toys thanks to its marketplace structure.
Mass market players like Target and Walmart, and even independents, may be in an excellent position to grab former Toys R Us shoppers' attention, thanks to their ability to provide enticing experiences at their brick-and-mortar locations, and their overlap with those Toys R Us shoppers.
EBay's version of the store experience is found at its Chelsea Market pop-up, where kids can play with the toys featured in the book. But established chains have hundreds of locations to play with. Target, for one, has made room in stores by a "quarter-million additional square feet" to accommodate additional merchandise and in-store events for children and families, including more than 25,000 hours of holiday playtime and events. Walmart, for its part, has expanded its in-store toy selection by 30% and has been hosting events at its stores to lure shoppers.
In-store attractions — such as those offered by eBay, Target and Walmart — serve to bolster sales not just in the moment, but also later online, according to Adi Biran, CEO of space rental firm Splacer.