Last weekend I came across a short story on Toys 'R' Us and how it's staging a comeback to win back market share from Wal-Mart. Interim CEO Richard Markee noted the company's commitment to "test early" and "find the best toys" along with a broader assortment as long-term strategies that will no doubt play a part in keeping an edge over Wal-Mart.
While a broad assortment of toys is great, especially for busy parents trying to do all of their Christmas shopping in one day, the real key to Toys 'R' Us's success, at least the way I see it, is its customer service. The staff is approachable and there seems to be dozens of employees on the store floor just looking for customers with questions. On a recent trip to the chain, I never had to go more than 10 feet to get an answer on a price (everyone seems to carry price checkers) or the age appropriateness of a toy (the box says one thing, but really, my 4 year old can handle small Legos) or even help making a decision (do you think my 18-month-old daughter would enjoy the Dora kitchen or the Walt Disney character kitchen more?). No matter how inane the question, the staff was polite and helpful, often leading me to the toy I was looking for or pointing out other options.