Target is more than doubling its holiday toy assortment and making room in stores by a "quarter-million additional square feet" to accommodate the additional merchandise and in-store events for children and families, the company said in a blog post this week. Target stores will host more than 25,000 hours of holiday playtime and events, including opportunities to play with toys, meet characters based on favorite toys and win giveaways, according to the post.
The mass merchant will offer “more than 2,500 new and exclusive toys,” and more than 100 of its remodeled stores' toy sections have a new layout, oversized displays, interactive play areas and book sections. In November, additional stores — almost 500 — will have bigger spaces “to make room for even more toys,” including elaborate setups like electric ride-on vehicles, playhouses and outdoor playsets, the company said.
Later this month, the retailer is making it easier to shop the assortment through an online "Toy Hub," which includes a gift finder function. A paper toy catalog, in the mail next week and in stores Oct. 28, includes digital barcodes that provide product information and the ability to add products to an online shopping cart.
With Toys R Us out of the picture this holiday season, there's a lot of opportunity for retailers in the segment, but the competition over the market share is fierce.
Target's early and highly amplified moves are "smart," and take note of some of the now-defunct toy giant's weaknesses, according to Charles Dimov, vice president of marketing at omnichannel tech firm OrderDynamics. The challenging amount of time, space, investment and logistics required for the experiential and event-based attractions in Target's plans are worth it in terms of sales. "Think about all the families shopping in-store this holiday season," he told Retail Dive in an email. "Many of them will remember at least one more item they need from Target."
Target is also well prepared for the online/offline crossover that consumers expect as they shop, something that Toys R Us never mastered. "Target already has a strong ship-from-store strategy going," Dimov said. "Stocking stores with more toys, books and items intended for children is smart as it serves a dual purpose, benefiting both physical and online fulfillment."
It's not just about the top line, according to Adi Biran, CEO of space rental firm Splacer. Rather, the level of in-store merchandising unveiled by Target reflects a realization that its physical spaces foster connections with customers and leave impressions that lead not just to sales in the store, but also create a buzz on social media and spur online sales later on.
"The store of the future is less about selling merchandise, and more about selling ideas and experiences," she told Retail Dive in an email. "Consumers are turning to online retailers to make purchases, yet creating experiences in real-time that will resonate with consumers encourages them to bring that relationship online when they are ready to make a purchase. As we are seeing with Target, brands are beginning to understand that creating a memorable and Instagrammable in-store experience is vital to capturing consumers’ attention."