A Brand that Needs to Grow Up

crying+babySince I’m in the business of talking about brands, I’m going to pick on one now. It’s been infamous around this household since my daughter was born and has just won that distinction yet again.

Hard to believe that a major brand like Toys R Us can make it so hard on the consumer and their own employees in this day and age, and yet they do.

Two experiences just this week alone.

Toys R Us opened a little temporary store called Toys R Us Holiday Express in a vacant shop in the mall near my house. Now, even though there are two locations within 10 minutes from me, this is a stroke of genius for the holidays. Toys R Us will now get all the foot traffic they’d otherwise miss being that their other locations are in drive-up malls, not the happy little foot-traffic shopping district near me. Genius. What’s not genius is that their own employees at the permanent big box locations haven’t got a clue that this little Holiday Express location exists. That’s what I found out when I went to the big store to try to purchase something I’d seen in the Express locale after it had closed and my daughter was giving me no peace about a certain kitty cat she just had to have because “I think she misses me, Mommy”. The guy I talked to at the regular store had no idea what I was talking about, but did tell me that another mom had just mentioned she bought something “near there” just a few days before. Turns out his manager knew about it—in fact, he works there. So how could other employees be so uninformed?

Just days later, I’ve found out that my child’s crib is on the recall list. To make a long story short, the crib I’d like to replace it with is an “in-store only” purchase. They don’t stock it at all. OK, inconvenient, but we know how these things go. The big problem? They wouldn’t allow me to purchase it over the phone—and there’s no means to order it online for delivery to the store. So if I want the crib, I have to drive to the store and order it for delivery in the next few weeks. Interestingly, when you look the product up online, it offers you a Buy Online option, even trying to upsell you with a Buyer Protection Plan—none of which you can actually activate. Apparently, they’re just there to frustrate customers.

What’s wrong with this picture? I probably don’t even need to ask. You’ve already spotted all the customer service and supply chain management issues for yourself.

It’s a shame all the missed opportunities Toys R Us stacks against them. Moms like me are a fiercely loyal audience when a brand treats us right. Toys R Us could be providing world-class service, a place for moms to gather, play areas for kids, an unsurpassed online experience that leads to more purchases, fun and educational areas in the store and online, and certainly better-informed employees. The list goes on and on.

Speaking of lists, looks like I’ll be taking my toy shopping one elsewhere this holiday.

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