Toys 'R' Us Decides to Play Online in China, Launches New E-Commerce Site

(Photo: space.yaolan.com/tangmengxuan)

US retailer Toys ‘R’ Us has launched its own online shopping site in China (at toysrus.com.cn) in a bid to tap into the country’s fast-expanding middle-income consumers. The company began its global online push in 2009, seeing double-digit growth and generating $1 billion in online sales last year.

Toys ‘R’ Us has 30 brick-and-mortar stores across 21 cities in mainland China already, so its new site is a sign that it wants to tackle China’s heated e-commerce market as well. In today’s announcement, the retailer outlines its expectations for the Chinese site:

[Company] e-commerce sales will account for nearly 10 percent of retail sales in China by or shortly after 2015. The launch of e-commerce capabilities to better serve Chinese consumers is an integral part of the company’s continued strategy for growth over the long term.

The new Toys 'R' Us online store for China. Click to enlarge.

In addition to today’s online launch in China, Toys ‘R’ Us also announced the development of mobile-optimized sites and apps in 11 markets around the world. In Asia, that affects only Japan.

But Toys ‘R’ Us might find it hard to go solo with its online shopping efforts, as it hasn’t opted to follow many other brands in also setting up virtual storefronts on some of China’s top e-commerce sites, such as Tmall, QQ Buy, or 360Buy. Those B2C e-tailing behemoths drive insane amounts of traffic, while the standalone Toys ‘R’ Us will be reliant on being found by search engines, or on consumers’ brand loyalty. However, as shown by the failure of other big retailers and web companies in China - such as Best Buy and eBay - you can’t rely on a global brand-name to bring in customers, and you really have to localize and adapt very well for the local market.

Speaking of eBay, it made a quiet - and surprisingly fashion-oriented - return to the China market earlier this month.

[Source: Toys ‘R’ Us press release; via TheNextWeb]

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