Toys “R” Us Launches Web Comeback Attempt

After a year of fits and starts with its Web strategy, Toys “R” Us has announced partnership agreements with LinkShare, Tutornet.com and employeesavings.com that the company hopes will resurrect its flagging e-commerce efforts.

The partnerships will launch an affiliate program, deliver tutoring benefits to customers, and offer discounts to the employees of Fortune 1000 companies.

Difficult Year

The partnership agreements come at a time when Toys “R” Us is struggling with offline competition as well. Wal-Mart passed Toys “R” Us to become the number one toy retailer last year, and eToys has long held the number-one Internet position.

Toys “R” Us had teamed up with Benchmark Capital to fund its online business and attempt to catch up with eToys, but the agreement unraveled over the summer.

Executive shakeups came in response to these difficulties, but Toys “R” Us remained committed to growing its online business. The company hired John Barbour on August 30th as CEO of Toysrus.com and committed $80 million (US$) to develop the site.

Barbour claims that the new partnerships are the beginning of a long-term initiative to strengthen the online business. “We believe these complementary partnerships will broaden our exposure to online markets we might not otherwise reach as quickly or effectively,” said Barbour.

LinkShare Partnership Launches an Affiliation Strategy

LinkShare will develop and manage a Toysrus.com affiliate marketing program. Using LinkShare’s network of tens of thousands of affiliate sites, Toysrus.com hopes to cross-refer customers and drive traffic to the Toysrus site.

In order to promote the program, Toysrus.com will give affiliates credit if their customers buy within five days on an initial visit. The program launches today.

Tutornet.com Agreement Assigns Homework

Toysrus.com will partner with tutoring service, Tutornet, which will become available at the Toysrus.com site. Toysrus.com will launch this affiliation with a promotion that gives a free month of online tutoring ($29.95 value) with a purchase from Toysrus.com. The promotion will continue through September, 2000.

Employeesavings Offers Discounts to Selected Groups

Toysrus.com has also signed an agreement with employeesavings.com to provide Employee Sponsored Value Plans (ESVPs) to Fortune 1000 companies. The deal provides discounts and products exclusives to corporate employees and their families.

Employees in the program will be able to reach Toysrus.com through employeesavings.com’s Extranet site and receiving savings on Toysrus.com products.

About Toysrus.com

Based in Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey, Toysrus.com is a subsidiary of the Toys “R” Us retail toy and children’s products store chain.

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