Hold on to those holiday shopping lists because Toys R’ Us is back in business. After filing for bankruptcy back in 2017, the iconic toy store has reentered the retail industry with its first store in New Jersey at the Garden State Plaza Mall.
Having a few years to recuperate, Toys R’ Us first announced their intention to reopen a couple of months ago. The new stores will be quite different from the originals ones people have become familiar with. To that effect, stores will be much smaller with a size ranging between 6,500 to 10,000 square feet at maximum. Previous Toys R’ Us store were multi-level buildings that could take up to 40,000 square feet.
The decrease in store size is because of the company’s new approach to prioritizing “experience”. The new stores will have playrooms where customers can play and experience toys they wish to purchase instead of just looking at them boxed up on shelves. Also now aware of the competition from e-commerce, they’ve refreshed the Toys R’ Us website to accommodate online purchases. There will also be in-store kiosks that customers can use to access the website and order items they can’t find in stock.
But what is kind of startling is that Toys R’ Us stores will also have quite a copious number of sensors installed. They’ve partnered with b8ta to be able to create a more dynamic, interactive store environment while being able to gather data to further develop the company’s strategies. These sensors from b8ta are meant to monitor foot traffic and shopper cadence. Using such data, they will be able to determine which brands are visited the most or which parts of the stores are most attractive to customers.
This, unfortunately, caused a stir on social media as it was perceived to be quite an invasion of privacy. The term “shopper cadence”, in particular, was misinterpreted. People thought it meant the store’s sensors would be recording voices as well.
Vibhu Norby, CEO of b8ta, issued a statement to i09 to clarify the situation,
“Shopper cadence doesn’t mean cadence as in voice. It means as in rhythm/frequency, as the word is used in a business context. We in no way monitor, track, or record what people say in the stores.”
Toys R’ Us will continue to open new stores around the U.S. They’ve announced their plans to open at least 10 stores by the end of 2020, including a flagship store in New York City.