One of the joys of parenthood is that it gives a great opportunity to rewatch movie classics. This weekend I decided to watch the movie BIG with my 7 and 9-year-old daughters. During the famous piano dance scene my daughters asked me, “Dad can we go to this store? It looks amazing!”
Unfortunately, FAO Schwartz the iconic NYC store, closed its doors in 2015 amid increasing rent and online competition from Amazon. It has now been replaced by other kinds of toys that I wish my children would stay away from (Note: Apple Store).
Later during the night, as I was trying to fall asleep, this continued to haunt me. Like over 50% of American households, I am an Amazon Prime member. As such I am guilty. Guilty of oversimplifying my busy life, guilty of bargain hunting, guilty of expecting 24-hour delivery on things that I don’t even really need. But most importantly, I am guilty of destroying a world of wonder for my children.
Just try and listen to this 1980's classic commercial and not feel bad:
You may think I’m being a bit extreme. That’s probably the Latin spirit that runs in my French blood. But seriously, we have to be self-aware that our changing buying behaviors are reinforcing Amazon’s dominance. And, we need to be aware that supporting Amazon’s dominance supports the destruction of many iconic retailers.
Yes, retail needs to adapt. Yes, many retail executives are guilty of refusing to change, and denying the radical impact that digital has had on consumers. Some retailers have let their powerful merchant teams hide behind the dying value of “curated selection” and failed to offer the now expected broader selection.
Amazon, with its marketplace of 3rd party sellers, now sets the bar for product selection. Today, over 350M products are offered on Amazon, over 97% of which are through the marketplace. Even Walmart is making a fantastic come-back. Guess what, in the last couple years their efforts have included paying $3.5B to snatch marketplace, Jet.com, and invest massively in their US marketplace (Note: Walmart Mexico now uses Mirakl’s marketplace technology to operate its marketplace).
I believe that every retailer needs a marketplace. As Sucharita Mulpuru, VP and Principal Analyst at Forrester, recently said on our webinar with Best Buy Canada,
“In the long term I don't think that any retailer will be able to survive without a marketplace strategy within their global omni-channel strategy.”
Last June, I had the great chance of being introduced to Dave Brandon, CEO of Toys”R”Us. He and his team immediately saw the potential of a marketplace for Toys”R”Us and Mirakl’s SaaS technology was selected to power Toys”R”Us future online marketplace. As we were kicking-off the project, Toys”R”Us suddenly filed for bankruptcy protection in order to restructure its debt and implement its change plan. Adding a marketplace will play a key role in helping Toys”R”Us offer endless aisle in an omnichannel context, alongside their critical in-store experience improvements. Mirakl fully supports Toys”R”Us during this challenging time, and is happy to be a part of the next stage for Toys”R”Us.
But, back to why I wrote this blog: I want my kids and future grandchildren to look forward to the great joys of entering the magical world of a toy store. This store will be different, probably smaller, much more digital, and include more on-site “experiences”. But this store needs to exist. We can all be a part of helping the Toys”R”Us team reinvent the toy store experience.
So this holiday season on Saturday, December 9th, I will drive 9 miles to take my kids to the Toys”R”Us store in Woburn at 366 Cambridge St. I hope to see some of you there.