Thanks to a little help from a big box retailer, Toys "R" Us is back online just in time for the holiday shopping season. A new Toys "R" Us website debuted Tuesday with reviews, news about trends in playtime, DIY activity suggestions, and, of course, toys. But although the site and logo will feel familiar to Toys "R" Us fans, the actual shopping experience is bound to feel a little different. That's because it's Target helping to bring Toys "R" Us back to life and any items collected in an online Toys "R" Us shopping cart will actually be purchased through Target.com.
A new arrangement between the Target Corporation and Toys "R" Us' parent company Tru Kids will see Target's toy inventory, digital capabilities, and fulfillment services power United States customers' shopping experiences at Toys "R" Us' new online storefront, a joint press release revealed Tuesday. Target will also support and power customers' online sales in new Toys "R" Us experiential retail stores expected to open in select locations later this year.
Overall, the agreement seems like a win-win for Target, which is hoping to reach even more consumers and ultimately expand its position as a leader in toys through the deal. "Target's leadership in toys, digital, and fulfillment are an unbeatable platform for Toys "R" Us to reconnect with their fans while we introduce them to the ease and convenience of shopping at Target," Nikhil Nayar, Target's senior vice president of merchandising said in a statement released by the retailer. "By applying our capabilities in a new way with Toys "R" Us, we can serve even more toy shoppers, drive new growth, and build on our toy leadership."
It's unclear, however, how (or, indeed, even if) sales garnered from the new Toys "R" Us website will be divided between Target and Tru Kids. A spokesperson for Tru Kids tells Romper the company can't share the specifics about its business agreement with Target. But although customers will ultimately be directed to Target when it comes time to make their purchase, Tru Kids has said it hopes the arrangement will revive the Toys "R" Us brand in a modern way.
"The foundation of that strategy requires the help of a retail industry leader and Target is the ideal retailer to support a new Toys "R" Us shopping experience, which is designed to provide families with endless ways to discover, play, and enjoy toys," Tru Kids CEO Richard Barry said in a statement. "Target will help us deliver on that experience with its toy assortment, digital strength and ability to deliver orders to shoppers in a matter of hours."
After decades as a leading toy retailer, slumping sales and massive debt caused Toys "R" Us to declare bankruptcy in September of 2017. In October of 2018, Reuters reported the retailer had decided to call off the bankruptcy auction where it was expected to sell off intellectual property such as the Toys "R" Us brand name, website, and mascot, giving shoppers hope the retailer wasn't gone for good.
And indeed at least some U.S. shoppers may find themselves able to walk into a Toys "R" Us sometime soon. A spokesperson for Tru Kids tells Romper that Toys "R" Us experiential retail stores are expected to open in Houston, Texas and Paramus, New Jersey later this fall. According to Target and Tru Kids' joint press release, these stores "are designed to showcase new products out of the box and create memorable experiences for kids and families that allow for in-person product discovery." Purchases that cannot be fulfilled immediately in store will be completed through Target.com with the help of a sales associate, according to the retailers.
While browsing a website doesn't give you quite the same thrill that flipping through the Toys "R" Us Big Toy Book (and circling the toys you wanted) did, the new Toys "R" Us online store is sure to be a hit with both kids and parents this holiday shopping season.