Coming to a retailer near you this holiday season: Toy Wars. Created by Walmart, contested by ToysRUs and Kmart; playing to a potential audience of billions -- with each retailer hoping to realize big return on their holiday investments. The back-end of this story is that Walmart brought the toy wars home this year -- literally -- by inviting 1,000 kids between 18-months and 10-years old to test, play with, and help select the top toys for the season. (You can learn about the specific toys from many articles. My goal is to point out the utter importance of sophisticated retail intelligence solutions so retailers can keep up, with each other's prices, assortments and promotions, in real-time -- and survive).
"Kids told us they want interactive toys as well as classic brands," said a Walmart spokesperson. In addition to the toy selection, Walmart rolled back prices on hundreds of dolls, action figures and ride-on toys, plans to dedicate in-store space in late September for its hot toys, and announced that all of its kid-approved toys will be eligible for free with no opening fees. Walmart is also offering to match the price of any local competitor's printed ad for an identical product right at the cash register, even on layaway items.
Meanwhile, ToysRUs announced holiday incentives such as cash back, an extended holiday return deadline, price match, and, is not only bringing back free layaway, but, for the first time will let customers make layaway payments online.
"Educational toys and licensed properties are set to be the hottest items this year," said the ToysRUs director of consumer public relations. "We're making sure we have the products on hand that kids want… and make it as easy as possible for parents by making sure we are getting inventory based on demand."
In another move clearly aimed at rival Walmart's aggressive toy pricing, ToysRUs recently rolled out a "Red Hot Deal" program, which regularly offers what the store says are big savings on certain products. ToysRUs said "key items" will be marked, "Hot Price Every Day," so shoppers know they are getting a good deal.
Kmart will continue to allow its members to put items on layaway and an online toy locator will also help parents see which stores have the hot toys in stock, according to Kmart's chief marketing officer of fitness, sporting goods and toys.
Another piece of interesting news is that parents may have an easier time getting their hands on toys this holiday season. The National Retail Federation reported, "Cargo import volume is expected to increase this September — up 5.1% from the same period last year, which means retailers aren't afraid to stock up this holiday season."
Bottom Line For Your Bottom Line:
Most important to these toy retail wars -- and any time -- is the availability of sophisticated pricing & assortment intelligence solutions technology to help each retailer see what their competitors are charging, how often they're changing, what promotions they're running, how prices compare -- and these tools simultneously provide the ability for price adjustments in real-time, to help retailers be as competitive and profitable as possible.
Walmart looks to heat up hot toy list (USA Today)