Product as Content: What the Death of Toys “R” Us Should Teach Us About Technology and Retail Experiences

Brick and mortar

Product as Content: What the Death of Toys “R” Us Should Teach Us About Technology and Retail Experiences

Jul 13, 2018 / By Vanessa Horwell

The pace of change in retail has been extraordinary, and consumers have been conditioned to expect the speed with which business (retail) changes and transforms itself. In the case of STORY, a brick-and-mortar location in Manhattan’s 10th Ave. retail corridor, the store literally changes every 4-8 weeks to highlight a new theme, trend or issue. Trish Mueller, CMO of Home Depot, calls this “ephemeral retail” – the concept of product as content.

Like other sectors we work with – travel, loyalty, fintech, mobile technology – the retail sector has evolved and transformed models because that is the future and nature of business.

Retailers that stand still, or are slow to adapt to changing business models – like the now-bankrupt Toys “R” Us – become obsolete and die.

This accelerated pace of change is largely what drives our PR and communications work with retail technology companies. Our clients’ B2B technology solutions make it possible for global retailers to change and grow – not only their product lines but their bottom lines as well. Retailers like STORY are proving that brick-and-mortar retail can be different and relevant: unique, boutique, experiential, immersive, omnichannel, multi-purpose, data-driven – and above all – new and fresh.

That’s the story we want to tell for our clients and their retail partners. And I think every other industry is going through a similar story and transformation – it’s not just retail.

Keeping up with the Pace of Change in Business

In its bankruptcy court filing, Toys “R” Us stated that  it just couldn’t compete with the likes of Amazon, Walmart and Target. The venerable toy merchant was yet another casualty of the “retail apocalypse” that has seen thousands of brick-and-mortar locations shuttered over the past decade.

And yet, in a world of instant delivery and on-demand shopping, brick-and-mortar stores have a powerful role to play when people want almost immediate contact with the objects of their desire. As artificial intelligence figures out what we want before we know it ourselves, retail stores are becoming less transactional and more focused on personalizing and humanizing the product.

With help from creative agencies like Twenty Four 7 – a ThinkInk client out of Portland doing amazing work to help retailers fuel brand addictions – retailers are transforming their stores into centers of brand engagementversus warehouses for merchandise.  And as retailers invest in new CRM systems, it’s also transforming their back-office merchandising, how they plan and move inventory in a fast-changing, on-the-go, mobile-first world.

STORY may be an extreme retail concept, but it’s not far from the mainstream: retailers will have to change fast or fail fast, one or the other. Our clients’ technology solutions are helping to drive retailers’ strategies, tactics and revenue – witness the success of Dallas-based Excentus (another ThinkInk client) helping to transform convenience retail through digital loyalty programs.

A Front Row Seat to B2B Technology Innovation

One of the exciting parts of our business is working closely with these B2B companies – the innovators that are helping retailers avoid (or forestall) the fate of venerable but stagnant institutions like Toys “R” Us.  Our B2B clients understand that their clients need new ideas, new partners and new technology, and our clients have the concepts, capabilities and know-how to deliver.

And we equally love doing our part on their behalf – crafting and executing B2B marketing and PR strategies centered on leads, metrics and reaching business goals; telling their stories more effectively; and helping them become more relevant and visible among prospective buyers and target audiences.

Do you provide B2B technology for retail or another sector we work with? Want to learn how ThinkInk can help communicate the business value and technical benefits of your products and services? You can contact our team here and be sure to check out a related post about Amazon Echo and the future of retail.

Vanessa Horwell

Vanessa Horwell
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