Yesterday was Monday, December 20, 2010. It was not a holiday, but getting close to the holidays and we figured that the Toy's R Us store wouldn't be so crowded.
We figured correctly. It was pretty much empty.
After quickly finding a parking place, we walked around and looked at various items. I overheard one lady, who is a Toy's R Us employee, say to another employee;
"Dou suru? Gara gara desu ne?" (translation: "What should I do? There are no customers!")
I was surprised. But she was right, there were few customers, and this, 4 days before Christmas!
Then, my son showed me a Lego that he wanted. I pulled out my iPhone and wanted to check prices on Amazon.co.jp. I couldn't. The internet and Wi-Fi were blocked inside the store.
I guess Toy's R Us blocks access to the Internet.
Is this a bad idea? I think so.
I told my son to come with me to outside the store. There I accessed the Amazon.co.jp website and found the exact same Lego for ¥2,000 cheaper than Toy's R Us was selling it for. Not to mention that Toy's R Us advertised it for a sale price!
Sure, I found it for cheaper on the Internet and that might be why Toy's R Us blocks Internet access inside their stores, but, instead of blocking access, I think they'd better reconsider their business model.
When you stop to think about it; what's the difference between the old Japanese style toy stores of the 1980's before the introduction of Toy's R Us and today? I mean, "What's the difference between today's Toy's R Us and the effects of the Internet?"
Stores like Toy's R Us can block Internet access all they want, but until they get into the Internet age and compete with the online stores, they are dead.
It will require a smart businessman to create a system whereby orders can be delivered immediately, regardless of the product.
Here's the Star Wars Lego my son wanted:
At Toy's R Us, it's ¥9,998 yen on sale (about $120.00 USD)
At Toy's R Us, a Star Wars Lego was ¥2,000 yen more expensive than Amazon.co.jp. At Amazon.co.jp, it is ¥2,282 yen cheaper!
¥2,282 yen cheaper (about $27.20 USD) !? And I can get free delivery
by the 23rd? Uh, no thanks Toy's R Us!
Today, like I said, is December 20.... I will order it from Amazon. Shipping, by the way, is free.
Nerf gun: ¥250 ($3.00 USD) yen cheaper on Amazon
I love Toy's R Us... I really do. But, with the way things are going, I cannot see how they can possibly survive.
Perhaps Toy's R Us is the proverbial Canary in the coal mine for tradition superstore retailers. Any traditional retailers have an idea?
I do... But I'm not telling.