More stores and AR activations: Toys ‘R’ Us looks to grow in Asia

It’s business as usual for Toys ‘R’ Us, which recently opened its latest outlet at Jem, a suburban mall in the west of Singapore, bringing its total number of stores in the country to 11. “It’s been a great year for Toys ‘R’ Us, just as it has been for so many people in Singapore and across Asia as life has started to get back to normal in 2022,” Adelene Teo, general manager of Toys ‘R’ Us Singapore, told Inside Retail.  According to her, life is returning to what it

hat it was like pre-pandemic, with more families getting outdoors, schools back on regular timetables and play time becoming a priority once again.

“Children and their parents are visiting our stores more often to ensure they have the essential toys, games and sports equipment they need to reconnect with their friends and loved ones as restrictions ease and travel resumes,” she added.

Adelene Teo, general manager of Toys ‘R’ Us Singapore

Normalcy is returning

Teo said that the company is seeing growth across all categories, from outdoor items like bikes, skateboards and pools, to apparel, action figures, dolls, plush toys, construction blocks and diecast and remote-control vehicles.

“In addition, STEAM [science, technology, engineering, arts, mathematics] toys have increased in popularity as parents discover the benefits of toys that complement structured learning, particularly since schooling has been disrupted in recent years,” she noted. 

Despite that disruption, Teo said the toy industry has been quite resilient and the brand has continued to thrive in the Singapore market.

“Over the past two years, we’ve seen a deeper relationship form not just between parents and children, but between families and our brand as we provide advice and guidance in meaningful ways as the toy experts in the marketplace,” she said.

Teo highlighted the importance of the digital factor in the overall operations of the brand in the hyper competitive Singapore arena.

“We continually evolve our offering beyond just products, leveraging our network of online e-commerce sites – both here in Singapore and across Asia – to be a support and resource for parents,” she said.

Online factor matters

Toys ‘R’ Us has started providing at-home activity ideas and learning resources, and it has refocused its marketing to extend beyond the traditional focus on driving transactions to offer recommendations around family activities like ‘game nights’, ‘play-cations’, ‘play-o-clock’ and ‘make your home a zoo’.  

“Parents realised they could come to our online store and get insightful and impactful support for their little ones. We were able to connect with our customers by evolving our service and enhancing their experience with us,” Teo said.

This has helped the brand stay top of mind and remain a key destination for families to experience convenience, fun and special moments, while offering the widest range of toys in a safe, enjoyable environment.

Teo sees the integration and execution of Toys ‘R’ US’ online to offline (O2O) strategies as being critical to the brand’s on-going success and growth both in Singapore and across the region.

“Central to this is a continued focus on listening to our customers, understanding their needs and preferences and continuously adapting to be omni-present and able to meet their demands,” she said.

The brand has also adapted its operations to deliver on its customer promise, extending and enhancing its delivery options, accelerating its ship-from-store capabilities and easing the all-important checkout process.

Coping with uncertainty

While Toys ‘R’ Us is monitoring the economic headwinds, inflationary pressures and supply chain bottlenecks impacting retailers around the world, Teo said the company remains focused on its customers and responding to their needs with meaningful solutions.

“As the needs of families have evolved, our passion to support parents and their children has grown to meet the challenges they are facing. They drive our thinking and are the foundation of all our decision-making,” she said.

For example, parents today want toys that last longer, offer more play occasions for kids as they grow and are better value for money.  

“Our recently introduced board game range, Play Pop, nurturing doll range, Baby Blush and toddler range, Top Tots, are all prime examples of quality toys competitively priced that meet children’s development needs as kids seek new challenges,” she stated.

Making it easier

The brand has also made shopping easier and more convenient for customers with services such as click-and-collect, delivery incentives for online orders, loyalty benefits and special offers that offer greater value.

“Our brand leverages nearly 40 years of experience in Asia – and our deeply-rooted brand affinity – as well as our knowledge of the markets in the region to ensure we adapt to better meet the changing circumstances of our customers,” Teo added.

Toys ‘R’ Us’ latest store at the Jem outlet is centred around essential childhood development stages, such as role play and dress up, STEM and learning, infants, pre-school and creative development, making it easier for parents to find the right products for their children.

“The store not only provides the same exciting store experience for kids, but it is also designed to ease store navigation, simplify product selection, and enhance the overall shopping experience for adults and kids alike,” she said.

New technologies abound

Beyond bricks-and-mortar, Toys ‘R’ Us is observing the developments around the metaverse, NFTs, augmented and virtual reality and Web 3.0 with great interest.

“This is rich, experiential territory well-suited to a retail store like Toys ‘R’ Us, and so we are exploring how to best integrate elements to enhance the customer experience and create even more magic moments for children and families. Stay tuned,” Teo said.

One example of this can be seen in the global release of the Jurassic World Dominion movie from Universal Pictures and Amblin Entertainment, where Toys ‘R’ Us offered an exciting AR game where fans could unlock dinosaurs that ‘came alive’ inside their stores.

“We aim to create dynamic and engaging store environments with excitement through augmented reality, streaming and videos. We bring stores to life through smart-phone applications, but also via a multi-channel approach to brand-engagement,” she noted.

Teo reveals that the brand has a lot of activity planned over the next few months leading into Christmas, as there will be a return to theatres of major movie properties and related licensed merchandise slated for next year.

“Beyond that, we have plans to continue expanding our footprint, both here in Singapore – with plans for one more location here before the end of the year – and in other markets across the region,” she added.

The future beckons

When it comes to Singaporean customers, Teo has observed that most of them are well informed and do their research before they purchase products. But more importantly, they crave events associated with toy launches.

“Before the pandemic, when we had the opportunity to organise milestone events, such as Star Wars Force Friday or Lego midnight launches, there was always a massive response and great support from customers,” she revealed.

Teo sees a great opportunity ahead for the brand in Singapore and across the Southeast Asian region. 

“First and foremost, we will continue to listen to our customers and be ready to respond to their needs and the needs of their children, and evolve in order to extend our relevance into the future,” she stressed.

While Toys ‘R’ Us physical stores will always be the flagship connection points with customers, the brand is also looking to expand and diversify its customer base into more online marketplaces.

“As technology advances, we aim to capitalise on new ways of engaging customers, enhancing their experience and connecting with them in more regular and meaningful ways, building on the relationship and trust we have developed over past years,” Teo said.

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