- Amazon is now fulfilling orders referred to it by the new Toys R Us' website.
- Consumers browsing products on toysrus.com are now sent via a "view price now" or "check availability" button to Amazon's website, where they can make purchases.
- Previously filling that role was Target, which announced a partnership with Toys R Us last year ahead of the holiday season. Industry publication The Toy Book reported in July that Target and Toys R Us had ended their partnership. TRU Kids, Amazon and Target did not immediately respond to Retail Dive's request for comment.
A little more than a year after its resurrection, and the new Toys R Us is still modest in scale.
The retailer in its current form was created from a joint venture between TRU Kids — an entity owned by the lenders to the defunct big-box version of Toys R Us and created out of its intellectual property and with the former chief merchant as its head — and the retail concept b8ta.
The company's partnership with Target launched in October 2019. For Target, it likely represented a low-risk way to market its expanding ambition as a toy seller. Moody's retail analyst Charlie O'Shea said at the time that it would "provide Target with more weapons in its arsenal as it competes for leadership with Walmart and Amazon in this all-important category this season."
However, there was never any certainty that tie-up would lead to much. Before its relaunch, the toysrus.com website didn't even rank in the first page of organic search results for the brand. As Jaysen Gillespie, head of analytics and data science for Criteo, told Retail Dive last year, "That says to me ... boy, nobody knows about this, nobody's looking for this. And so having it get to any kind of material volume that would impact the industry over this quarter, it is tough to imagine."
Target's overall toy sales during the holiday period proved a big disappointment. Even so, it's still hard to say what if any positive impact its partnership with Toys R Us might have had. Outside data analysis of Target's online toy sales offered mixed messages from the quarter.
With Amazon now in the mix, it's just as unclear what impact the partnership will have. In both cases, there's some historical irony in Toys R Us partnering up with Amazon and Target, two powerhouses that ate away at the retailer's market share and sales over the years, helping to send the debt-burdened company into bankruptcy and ultimately liquidation. With Amazon, the irony is magnified by the bruising fight between the e-commerce giant and Toys R Us when they partnered up for online sales in the early 2000s.
Digital isn't the resurrected toy seller's only channel. Last July, the new Toys R Us announced plans to open two stores, which were part showroom for toy makers, and part experienced-based playroom. They were, in other words, more of a marketing channel than a sales channel.
At the time, TRU Kids CEO Richard Barry and b8ta CEO Vibhu Norby were coy about just how many stores they would open in the near term, but indicated they planned to open more stores in prime retail markets in 2020, and they wouldn't rule out the possibility of opening 200 or more stores under the Toys R Us banner in the long term if all went well.
No one in retail could plan for how 2020 would turn out, in a world shaped by the new coronavirus and an unfriendly environment for a toy store based on in-store play. Today, Toys R Us on its website still lists only the two stores that it opened last year.