Toys R Us may have been one of the first truly successfully niche stores. I remember standing in line to buy the latest Cabbage Patch Kid or Tickle Me Elmo when that was THE place to get toys. I stalked them the way I now stalk presale codes for popular concerts. Everyone wanted, dare I say needed to be a Toys R Us kid. Toys R Us represented play to an entire generation, so what happened???
The answer is easy, they refused to change. They wanted to remain a brick and mortar in a time when the world wide web was taking over everything. They wanted to just sell products when unique experiences were dominating the consumer purchase decision. They were an oak tree when they needed to be a willow. You may be asking how we switched to talking about trees. Well, oak trees are known for their strength and ability to stand fast, but they are inflexible and if a strong enough force comes through (Amazon, Escape Games, kids cooking and painting classes), they will fall. A willow tree, on the other hand, is also strong but in a different way. It bends and sways so when a strong force comes through it is likely to lean into it and bend without breaking. That’s what Toys R Us needed to do, and that’s what your business needs to do.
In this day and age, we see a lot of disruptors – businesses that seem to come out of no where and change the game. They’re your Amazons and Ubers and to some extent Southwest Airlines. They literally disrupt the way consumers do things and become the new platinum standard (or should I say Vibranium standard for the few million people who saw Black Panther). Established businesses can survive a disruptor if they are nimble and react quickly enough to the new normal. That’s what Toys R Us didn’t do. They continued down the path of shoppers coming in the store instead of being able to buy online. They didn’t create an extension of the buying experience online, so customers still felt that was the only place to go for toys.
Unfortunately, while relying on their in store experience, they chose not to revolutionize that either. Thanks largely to the internet and the evolution of social media, kids are used to immediate gratification and constant entertainment. They watch YouTube videos and then want to make slime or fly a drone. Toys R Us could have created instore demonstrations and become the place parents brought their kids to have a hands-on experience with all the latest fads then bought all the materials in the store to continue the fun at home.
As a parent, if I’m going to get up, go to a store, hunt for parking and deal with crowds instead of buying online, a store must make it worth my time. That typically means have really great prices or a tremendous experience that makes the extra effort worth it. So, what are you doing in your business to keep up with the latest trends in your industry?
Are you a realtor and if so how do you capitalize on the fact that buyers have seen homes online long before they walk into them? Are you a marketing and PR company and if so how do you make sure your products are talked about by the social media influencers of the day, or better yet, turn your brand into an influencer? People don’t watch commercials the way they use to so what new and creative way are you reaching your customers?
Creativity and innovation use to provide a slight advantage, now they are the only path to long term success. What are you doing to insure they live and breath in every decision your team makes? How are you going to innovate your company into the next craze that leads to long term success?
Christy Pruitt-Haynes Consulting works with organizations and individuals to help them on their quest towards professional excellence. If you’re facing significant change, unprecedented growth or stagnant results Christy Pruitt-Haynes Consulting will help by providing customized tools to solve problems, increase employee engagement, improve leadership capabilities and increase profits. As a Speaker, Trainer and Coach, Christy will provide diversity of thought, enhanced communication, improved leadership and a maximized corporate culture. CPH Consulting will help grow your business!