OPERATIONS

Enhanced departments, omnichannel crucial to Toys ‘R’ Us holiday plans

BY Marianne Wilson

Wayne, N.J. — Toys “R” Us is updating its in-store shopping experience and expanding its omnichannel initiatives for its more important selling season. The retailer detailed its plans on Thursday at a special holiday preview event in New York City.

Starting in October, Toys “R” Us will expand and enhance product categories that have experienced sales growth over the past few years, notably education, tablets and construction, while reducing the space dedicated to areas that have underperformed over time.

New features will include a dedicated Imaginarium shop, a dedicated 32-ft. shop that will showcase 25 tablets that can be tested and engaged with by kids and parents, and a dedicated construction shop that will showcase Lego, Mega Bloks and other major brands.

Speaking at the event, Toys “R” Us executive VP and chief merchandising officer Richard Barry addressed the effect of the uncertain economic environment and impact of the multi-year decline in birth rates on the toy industry, as well as the declines in select businesses, such as video games and electronics. He said the company’s merchandising strategy will continue to center heavily on differentiation and breadth of assortment, while simultaneously introducing new product categories and expanding growth areas.

“Our unmatched product differentiation, unique services and value offerings continue to set us apart, and we look forward to unveiling new and exciting initiatives throughout the holiday season that consumers will appreciate,” Barry said.

On the omnichannel front, Toys “R” Us said it plans to continue to leverage its $1.1 billion e-commerce operation and vast store network to enable customers to shop with it wherever, whenever and however they choose. To that end, the chain is shortening the wait time for “Buy Online, Pickup In Store” orders from three hours to under one, and improving the pick-up time for “Ship to Store” orders, from seven to 14 days to five to 10. Stores will be equipped with a secondary in-store pickup location later this fall, as the company is enabling Wish List kiosks with check-in technology, making the process faster and easier for customers.

The retailer also is offering free layaway through Dec. 15, with no upfront service fee and no minimum purchase requirement. New this year, after an order is created in-store, subsequent payments can be made on the chain’s online site.

Other holiday initiatives include:

  • An aggressive holiday marketing program that includes personalized e-mail communications, as well as values and deals every day from now until Christmas. Loyalty incentives will be enhanced throughout the holiday season, inclusive of a Friends & Family 20% coupon and an extra 25% bonus for “R”Us credit cardholders, among other programs.
  • Approximately 35 million Rewards“R”Us loyalty program members have the opportunity to earn 10% back, up to $100, on qualifying toy purchases through Oct. 31. The savings will be delivered via an e-gift card with no exclusions in November.
  • A new extended return policy allows shoppers to make returns through Jan. 25.
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Simon has plenty to say at GS event

BY CSA STAFF

Walmart president and CEO Bill Simon prefaced his comments at the Goldman Sach Global Retailing Conference by saying he wouldn’t have much to say. That proved to not be the case as Simon said a lot about a wide range of subjects.

According to Simon, who also presented at Goldman’s investor conference last year, his remarks during a Wednesday lunch presentation were going to be constrained because he was sandwiched between the company’s release of second quarter results on August 15, a board meeting in several weeks to present a strategic plan followed by the company annual meeting for analysts on October 15.

As it turned out, Simon was merely lowering expectations for a surprisingly forthcoming presentation about where he sees Walmart’s business headed and an equally candid question and answer session with Goldman analyst Matt Fassler who one week earlier had resumed the firm’s coverage of the company with a “buy” recommendation.

Click here to read the full text of Simon’s comments.

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AGCO appoints new general counsel

BY CSA STAFF

DULUTH, Ga. — AGCO, a worldwide manufacturer and distributor of agricultural equipment and infrastructure, has appointed Roger Batkin as VP, general counsel. Batkin joined the company in 2000.

“I am pleased to announce Roger’s appointment as our general counsel,” said Martin Richenhagen, chairman, president and CEO of AGCO Corporation. “Roger has gained significant company and industry experience during his time with AGCO and will be of tremendous value as we work to deliver quality products to our customers and improved growth, profitability, and value for our shareholders. I have great respect for Roger’s legal counsel and confidence that his responsive approach will serve our company well.”

Batkin has been serving as interim general counsel since June in addition to his role as VP, legal services EAME & APAC and director U.K. operations.

AGCO supports more productive farming through a full line of tractors, combines, hay tools, sprayers, forage equipment, tillage, implements, grain storage and protein production systems, as well as related replacement parts. AGCO products are sold through five core machinery brands, Challenger, Fendt, Massey Ferguson, Valtra and GSI, and are distributed globally through 3,150 independent dealers and distributors in more than 140 countries worldwide.

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