Half of Toys ‘R’ Us stores in China will fulfill online orders

March 7, 2016 04:57 PM

Toys ‘R’ Us Inc. says more than half of the 100 stores it operates in China will be equipped to fulfill online orders by April.

China has become one of fastest-growing markets for Toys ‘R’ Us since the retailer entered the country in 2006, the company says. Toys ‘R’ Us operates stores in 44 Chinese cities and expects to add 30 stores in China by the end of 2016.

The U.S.-based retail chain began selling online in China in April 2012 with an official store on Alibaba Group’s marketplace, Toys ‘R’ Us launched its own e-commerce site at at the end of the same year. Toys ‘R’ Us is No. 40 in the Internet Retailer 2015 Top 500 Guide, which ranks retailers by online sales in North America, and No. 308 in the Internet Retailer 2015 China 500, in which rank is based on web sales in China. 

Toys ‘R’ Us initially relied on its warehouse in Shanghai to process web orders, and consumers often waited up to a week for delivery. The retailer began shipping some web orders from stores in May 2014, and those orders typically ship within a day, a spokeswoman tells Internet Retailer, “If it is shipped from the same city as the final destination, it will be delivered the next day,” she adds. “Shipping within the same province takes two days and for further locations it takes three days.”  

Toys ‘R’ Us also continues to develop other omnichannel capabilities in China. The company in November introduced a “scan to buy” function in some stores that allows smaller stores to offer the full range of outdoor and baby products. A consumer can use her mobile phone to scan a QR code on a shelf to place an online order of products not available in the store. The company also last year began a broader program of letting consumers use their mobile phones or computers in stores to order from online inventory, which allows them to buy items that may be out of stock in that store or inconvenient to carry home because of their size.

The company also set up a 70-inch touchscreen inside its 100th bricks-and-mortar location in China, a store in Beijing. The screen lets shoppers browse through promotional items and place an online order by using their mobile phone to scan a QR code on the screen. Toys ‘R’ Us says it plans to deploy similar devices in other stores across China. 

Toys ‘R’ Us also frequently communicate with customers online. The retailer has 850,000 fans on China’s Twitter-like Weibo online community and more than 1.1 million followers on WeChat, China’s popular mobile social network. “WeChat followers have been expanding significantly over the past two years, and more than 80% of members now join our membership program via WeChat, where consumers can explore the latest promotional information and get e-coupons from us,” a spokeswoman says. 

The Toys ‘R’ Us membership program allows consumers to collect points while shopping and redeem them for discounts, according to the company.

In China, Toys ‘R’ Us carries online and in stores such international brands as Lego, Disney and Barbie, as well as its own brands like Fun Years and Fast Lane.   

The demand for high-quality children’s products is increasing dramatically. China’s toy market grew 9.3% to 63.4 billion yuan ($9.73 billion) in 2015 from 58.0 billion yuan ($8.9 billion) a year ago, according to London-based market research firm Euromonitor International Ltd..

That growth figures to get a boost from the Chinese government’s relaxation last year of its one-child policy, which restricted most couples to having a single child. The government hopes the new rules will lead to an additional 18 million births every year.

Follow Frank Tong on Twitter @FrankTongIR.

For more Chinese e-commerce data, please click here for Internet Retailer 2015 China 500




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