Friday Buzz: A Digital Cautionary Tale

How Toys R Us, which filed for bankruptcy, stumbled into the e-commerce era. Also: Check out these infographic-making tools.

Toys R Us thought it was taking a shortcut to the digital age by partnering with Amazon.

Instead, that move proved dangerous to the company’s long-term prospects. The famed toy retailer, which filed for bankruptcy this week with a shocking amount of debt to its name, has a recent history that speaks to the dangers of digital partnerships that hand off too much.

As Kaya Ismail explains on CMSWire, the chain partnered with Amazon to sell toys online in 2000, which seemed like an astute move at a time when competition like eToys was cropping up.

But there were some big problems with this move—including forwarding all its traffic to Amazon. In exchange, the deal was supposed to earn the toy retailer exclusivity on Amazon’s site. Instead, it ended up costing the company essential momentum after Amazon opened up its store to third-party toy sellers—which led to a messy legal saga between the two firms.

Toys R Us sued, claiming breach of contract; Amazon countersued, claiming the toy chain failed to fulfill some orders. The mess took years to fix up, and Toys R Us lost valuable ground. It only opened a digital outpost of its own in 2006, long after many of its competitors.

Speaking to CMSWire, analyst Praful Saklani, the CEO of Pramata, suggested that partnering with Amazon, combined with other organizational issues, led to the firm’s bankruptcy.

“Toys R Us failed because it didn’t have a coherent digital strategy to pair with a unique high-touch experience,” Saklani said.

The moral of the story: Piggybacking off someone else’s digital strategy isn’t as good of an idea as having your own.

Infographic Insights

Infographics are useful tools for conveying information visually, but creating them can be difficult. Which is why it’s always good to have some extra tools available to make ’em. This Forbes post breaks down a wide array of visualization tools that could help your graphic skills turn a corner.

Other Links of Note

Stop picking on me: Lifehacker thinks you should quit picking folks’ brains.

Internal plumbing: Copyblogger suggests using internal links to improve your overall traffic.

The case for text messaging: Kivi’s Nonprofit Communications Blog highlights how texting can help improve campaigns.

(YvanDube/iStock Unreleased/Getty Images Plus)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

Got an article tip for us? Contact us and let us know!