Magazine:

The problem with TRU starts at way they do business. Once upon a time it was advantageous for them (bigger discounts) to order a giant lot for the company and have it distributed to the warehouse and then to the stores. Even though this clogged up a bunch of stuff in the warehouses, they had no real competition. Department stores carried about 9 things besides Barbie, Hot Wheels and board games and mom & pop stores couldn't compete on price.

They stood idly by when giant stores like KMart, Walmart, Target and other super discounters marched right in - could get pretty much the same discount and they had much more efficient delivery systems. Frankly, they should be embarassed that WalMart sells more toys than them a year - sad and pathetic that a store that doesn't even specialize in a line sells more than a store devoted to that genre.

They have fixed some of their problems but not all of them. They need to get stuff on the shelves on all their stores at the exact same time. They should never utter the phrase, "It's on the truck." Think about that for a second. What they're saying is - we're pretty sure we have it, it's on the truck parked out back but we don't know when we'll get to it. It's not just bad customer service, it's bad planning. You don't have enough employees to unload a truck? You don't want to? You'll let a customer leave without selling them anything? And the biggie - how do you sell anything if it's OUT ON A TRUCK and not in the store? Would we find this acceptable to taco bell? Can't sell you a taco, the meats on the truck - we might unload it tomorrow?

(and we all know the truck answer applies whenever you show up - it's not like on a Sunday night at 9 PM, that might actually be true).

Sure, other stores run out of things but they only store overstock but only in the things they have extras of - maybe TRU would be more efficient if they made really tiny backrooms so they'd be forced to stock their stores.

TRU has to realize it's not 1975 anymore and that while the whole exclusive thing is cute, it's not very smart for their bottom line 0 especially in light of the internet - we don't need to look far to see an example of a company that figured out how to effective manage an exclusive (EB) - the problem with an exclusive was always proper allocation - with the internet, that problem is resolved! You can gauge months in advance what the interest is and adjust the orders - hell, if it comes to it, 85% of the people on thus board would put down a $5-$10 dollar deposit for TOH3 in early 2002 knowing it's not coming out until late 2002, right? But does TRU take advantage of that? Do they even think about that?

Instead of an orderly process, we have fear and near mass hysteria because we fear their "distribution" methods so much - so instead of not only selling 10,000 sets in the first few weeks to us fanatics, who knows how many they could've sold to the casual fan if it was actually out on the shelf? Another couple thousand? What a concept, selling products to people browsing in the stores!

Instead, who buys most of it - dealers and TRU employees. So, not only are thousands of TRU customers annoyed but they sold quite a few at discounts to employees - then they turn around and subvert the whole process by jacking up the price and worse, creating another backlash against TRU. By not managing an orderly selling process and distribution, they walked away from hundreds of thousands of dollars of profit if not a million and this is just for ONE product out of 50,000!

It's not enough to have an exclusive, you have to sell it right. And the TOH2 is an even perfect example now that prices have fallen to around $45 dollars on eBay. That is pretty much the retail price so it wasn't priced wrong for the supply & demand portion of the equation, it was just distributed very, very poorly. You have an ecommerce partner - - why not leverage that relationship to your benefit - you could even charge an extra.

All of this filters down to the store level - the customer service only reflects the uneven quality of TRU - their corporate decision-making, their shipping and their stocking decisions. The toy biz is not an easy industry but that’s why you have to try and take as much guesswork out of it - maybe someday TRU will wake up and realize that we’re on internet time.

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