aNb Media News, March 14, 2018

Toys ‘R’ Us UK to Shutter All Stores

Following Toys ‘R’ Us UK’s collapse into administration and its failure to find a buyer, the retailer announced all its UK stores will close within the next six weeks.

The 25 stores planned to close as a result of the original CVA process, will all be shuttered by this Thursday, March 15. The BBC is reporting the closures will result in the loss of more than 3,000 jobs.

NRF/Forrester Survey: More Focus on Merging Physical, Digital Retail

Traditional and online retailing are increasingly intertwined as customers shop across touch points and the industry uses both platforms to better serve them, according to the annual State of Retail Online study released today by the National Retail Federation and Forrester.

Of the companies surveyed this year, 32 percent were “pureplay” online retailers while 57 percent were multichannel retailers, including traditional bricks-and-mortar retailers that also sell online.

This year’s data reveals that 43 percent of store-based retailers surveyed expect a net increase in the number of bricks-and-mortar stores they operate by the end of 2018 compared with 2017, and only 16 percent expect a net reduction. Additionally, retailers are proactively working on their real estate assets, whether testing new store formats such as opening some type of pop-up store (24 percent), and opening new warehouses or distribution centers (12 percent).

New physical locations are important because 42 percent of retailers surveyed say that faster delivery of online orders is their top customer-facing priority, and many plan to use stores to achieve that goal. Omnichannel services such as buy online, pick up in-store are an in-store priority for 21 percent, along with 15 percent that cite ship-from-store as a fulfillment priority.

Personalizing the shopping experience was another top priority, cited by 15 percent of store-based retailers. Retailers surveyed are also focused on using technology to better enable store associates to help customers (12 percent), as well as improving the in-store experience (12 percent). To support their store associates providing service to customers, 61 percent of retailers surveyed plan to spend more on employee training.

Digital continues to contribute significantly to retail overall, both directly and as it influences sales in stores. Seventy percent of retailers surveyed noted that online conversion rates – the number of people browsing an item online who actually follow through and make a purchase online – increased in the past year. Further good news: 62 percent said repeat customers were up and 57 percent said average order values had increased.

While online sales coming from desktop computers currently double those of mobile browsers, mobile sales are growing 36 percent per year versus 8 percent on desktop. Mobile app sales are growing at an annual rate of 16 percent, and accordingly, 89 percent of retailers plan to increase investments in mobile initiatives.

WIT Names New Board Members

Women in Toys, Licensing & Entertainment (WIT) elected the following new members to its board of directors:

  • Lisa Shamus, President of Lisa Shamus & Partners, serving as Mentorship Chair
  • Jadyn Rosario, Principal of Simplicity Consulting, serving as Regional Chapter Chair
  • Julie Christopher, VP Marketing North America at eOne, serving as Marketing Chair
  • Laurie Schacht, President at Adventure Publishing, serving as Communications Chair
  • Michele Martell, Esq., Founder of Martell Media House, serving as Programming Chair
  • Karen Kilpatrick, VP Marketing at JazWings, serving as Nominations Chair

Caitlin Gutekunst, outgoing board member and former Northern California Chapter Chair, will step down from her role as the organization’s Regional Chapter Chair, in late March. Her seat will be filled by Rosario.

Relevant Play Teams with Authentic Labs for New Technology to Fight Counterfeiting

Relevant Play is introducing a new mobile technology from Authentic Labs to protect consumers against potentially harmful counterfeit product.

Authentic Labs’ new Real ID technology combines proprietary material, printed on unique, randomly generated codes that can be easily scanned, and verified, with an AI-driven authentication technology built into an app. Authentication takes place real-time, without the need for an internet connection. The Real ID code has layered security that prevents duplicates and knock-offs, yet it can be read and authenticated with the phone in your pocket. With the check, parents can validate that the Relevant Play product they’re buying for their child is authentic and has passed the rigorous toy safety standards we expect.

Relevant Play will roll out products with Real ID codes in North America in 2018.

goPuff, Hershey Unveil VR Shopping Experience at SXSW

goPuff, a growing convenience delivery service, joined The Hershey Company to launch a virtual reality shopping experience at the Retail Innovation Lounge at SXSW on Saturday, March 10.

The Hershey Company is working with goPuff to explore the future of VR and retail. Partnering with the four-year-old retail technology company has given Hershey the opportunity to learn more about goPuff’s Millennial and Gen-Z consumer base while giving SXSW attendees the opportunity to experience what the future of retail could look like.

Consumers can shop all types of convenience items including Hershey brands, household goods, alcohol and more on the goPuff app for iOS and Android, or on the website at

Former Disney CP Exec Launches Consultancy, The Lantic Group

Jonathan Symington, former vice-president and general manager of Global Entertainment Licensing at Disney Consumer Products has launched The Lantic Group, a business consultancy specialized in building brands through product launches, licensing strategies, and international expansion.

Based in Los Angeles with a network in the UK, France, Sweden and China, The Lantic Group offers global solutions by converging the tech, entertainment, and consumer products sectors. With more than 25 years of experience in consumer products marketing, media entertainment, and brand licensing in Europe, Asia, and the Americas, Lantic provides specific category expertise in FMCG, technology, consumer electronics, toys, fashion, publishing, movie and tv studio content promotion.

Prior to creating The Lantic Group, Symington spent more than 15 years in key positions at Disney Consumer Products and Disney Publishing Worldwide, in Paris, Beijing, New York, and Los Angeles. During his tenure at Disney he oversaw the global operations for book retail, book licensing, global licensing, live action studio licensing, and global entertainment Licensing.

While leading the global licensing team at Disney Publishing and Sales and marketing for the Disney Book Group, Symington led the launch of successful physical and digital Disney-branded publishing programs such as Disney Fairies, Never Girls, Disney Cars, and Princesses as well as the acquisition of new books by leading authors such as Rick Riordan and Eoin Colfer.

Additionally, Symington was responsible for planning and executing consumer product strategies for evergreen brands such as The Muppets and Nightmare Before Christmas; event properties including Cinderella, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Alice through the Looking Glass; and game-based brands such as Kingdom Hearts and Disney Infinity.

Symington will represent various clients at Bologna Children’s Book Fair, London Book Fair, Book Expo America, and Licensing International Expo including Deer Little Forest, a high-end arts and lifestyle brand created by Jo Rose.

The Lantic Group is also working with global publisher Panini to develop its promotional and customer loyalty programs with leading FMCG brands and retailers across the US. Panini holds licenses for FIFA World Cup, NBA, NFL, Nascar, Disney, Warner Brothers, and National Geographic to name a few.