By Hugh Stevens, Head of Strategic Growth, LiveRamp
The recent announcement of the return of the beloved Toys ‘R’ Us brand to the UK market after three years has sparked enthusiasm among many across the country, having ceased operations in the UK altogether in 2018.
The retail landscape has changed dramatically since the days when Toys ‘R’ Us was a major retailer in the ’80s and’ 90s. The boom in e-commerce and online retailers and the Kingdom’s Main Street struggle United have been going on for years, but have undoubtedly been accelerated by the Covid-19 pandemic, with the forced closure of stores for months being the nail in the coffin for many beloved but struggling brands.
Everyone has had to adapt in order to survive. Some, like the Arcadia Group, couldn’t keep pace and went into administration, but not before its crown jewel, Topshop, was picked up by online retailer Asos, while others, like Gap, have decided to close all UK physical stores. was the only way forward.
The consequences of the changing retail landscape is something Toys ‘R’ Us is all too familiar with. The company went into administration in 2018, but after a successful relaunch in Australia, it announced its return to the UK, focusing on both online shopping and physical stores.
Toys ‘R’ Us isn’t the only retailer to invest in physical stores. House of Fraser has just announced a huge redevelopment of its flagship store in London, complemented by a restaurant with 360-degree views at the top and offices. Amazon has opened several stores in London that harness new technology to create a new experience without payment. Tesco has also gone this route, testing innovations to make the in-store experience as smooth as possible.
Toys ‘R’ Us is approaching its comeback in a similar fashion, hoping to create an experiential offering in their stores that entices people to come rather than shop online.
Whether retailers re-enter the market, like Toys ‘R’ Us, or simply adjust to the new normal, lessons learned from the online shopping boom need to be applied across both channels. Specifically, retailers are learning that customer data and information is increasingly valuable in-store as well as online.
Amazon, for example, uses first-party data to decide what to store on its shelves. Their new gadget store in Bluewater Mall only offers products that have been rated by customers as four stars or higher. Not only is this a smart business decision, but it is also a great PR approach for customers who will feel reassured that the products are trusted, useful, and popular.
When it comes to digital, there is nothing more crucial than first party data for the future success of these retailers. Building a detailed picture of your customers and information about their wants and needs is something that online retailers have done successfully over the past decade. More traditional brands may have been slow to catch up, but they have no doubts about the power of data and the effectiveness of targeting and measurement that comes with it.
The timing couldn’t be better. These retailers’ new approaches to brick-and-mortar sales reflect a big change that will strongly affect the way they sell online: Third-party cookies that allow retailers to track potential customers from site to site will soon be gone, changing the way they sell online. digital marketing strategies that brands have built up over the past decade.
In addition, changes to Apple’s IDFA – new rules that give individuals the power to opt out of cross-app tracking on its devices – are also a blow to retailers and brands that have it. used so far. While these are important changes that need to be made to benefit consumer privacy in the long run, in the short term, these changes mean retailers need to change the way they find new customers and market to them.
Many traditional retailers probably already have a wealth of data that is not being used to its full potential, and by investing in a secure, privacy-focused data collaboration framework, they can turn that wealth into actionable information. Additionally, by partnering with brands, which also adopt first-party data strategies, retailers can broaden their knowledge of their customers and their ability to engage them. While brands also embrace privacy and transparency with their customers, secure data partnerships offer retailers and brands the ability to collaborate while keeping data – and their customers – safe.
Much has changed since the heyday of Toys’ R ‘Us’, but the company has a chance to empower itself – as do many other retailers currently looking for a solid strategy to move from there. ‘before. By using a successful first-party data strategy, applying the learnings in stores and online, and investing in data collaboration technologies with the brands it stores, the company can sustain its business for the long term.