eBay has enjoyed a special relationship with ToysRUs, giving it prominent placement on its site including in search results, and even running TV commercials
exclusively featuring the ToysRUs eBay Store. But on Friday, the retail chain announced it will launch its own online marketplace next year, becoming a direct online competitor of eBay.
"Beyond enhancing its breadth and depth of selection, the online marketplace will allow Toys"R"Us to leverage data from third-party products and sellers to identify potential, new retail partners and influence the company's in-store offerings," the company announced.
It will be interesting to see how eBay reacts to the news and if ToysRUs will continue to sell on eBay once it launches its own marketplace.
Meanwhile, online sellers are usually pleased when a new venue opens up to them, offering hope of greater sales, lower fees, and more favorable policies and practices than sites like eBay and Amazon.
However, one need only look to Amazon to guess at the restrictions ToysRUs is likely to impose on third-party merchants on its marketplace due to its reliance on brands and toy manufacturers, which generally wish to restrict the online sales of their products to a limited number of authorized sellers.
This recent thread
shows the difficulties of selling toys on Amazon - even for a seller authorized to sell toys in their brick-and-mortar retail store. The original poster said in some cases, Amazon has rejected their invoices. Distributor don't want to get involved, and manufacturers don't want to have retailers sell their items on marketplaces, he said - in some cases because they themselves are selling on those venues.
Manufacturers may not like the idea of third-party merchants selling on a ToysRUs marketplace any better than they like them selling on eBay and Amazon. And retail chain stores have their own beef with marketplaces sellers - Target and Kohl's, for example, have banned resellers from shopping in their stores and websites.
It will be interesting to see how ToysRUs handles retail arbitrageurs who wish to sell items purchased at its retail stores on its own online marketplace!
If ToysRUS does open its marketplace to unauthorized sellers, it may follow Amazon's lead by restricting their sales during the prime holiday shopping period. Amazon makes an exception for sellers who use its Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) service; and it's possible ToysRUs could also be planning to offer fulfillment services to online merchants using its logistics network.
The announcement of its plans for a new marketplace comes at the same time ToysRUs filed for bankruptcy
in order to "restructure its outstanding debt and establish a sustainable capital structure that will enable it to invest in long-term growth and fuel its aspirations to bring play to kids everywhere and be a best friend to parents."
The retailer also announced a rebranding with the tagline "Today we play" in a campaign
that is critical of the structured schedule imposed on children with not enough time for unstructured playtime.
We're seeking answers about the new ToysRUs online marketplace from ToysRUs and Mirakl, the company that will power its new platform, to learn what types of merchants will be permitted to sell and what the fee structure will be when it launches in 2018.
ToysRUs had a fierce legal battle with Amazon over a decade ago, which drove it into the arms of eBay. Can (and should) eBay retain the retailer as a seller on its site, or is there another bitter divorce in the making? And would you be open to selling on ToysRUs, if permitted?