I’ve been struggling with ‘Toys “R” Us’ in Singapore recently. It’s a place I have to visit on a regular basis – not just because I have two young sons, but also because Singapore is one of those places where you are constantly invited to kids’ birthday parties and as such, there are always presents to be bought. It’s great for the kids of course, but not so kind on Mum and Dad’s wallets.

My challenge with ‘Toys “R” Us’ is its customer service. I estimate I have been into its various Singapore stores at least 50 times in the last 18 months. I can honestly say in all of those visits, I’ve only had one good customer service experience. The staff don’t smile at all – in fact, they don’t seem to enjoy being there. That is one issue, and for me, working in the world’s largest toy store – it’s a BIG issue! What’s more fun than toys after all? Let alone the pure pleasure kids get from just being in one of these mega stores? Their eyes light up before they even walk in the door.

Once again, yesterday, I was in ‘Toys “R” Us’ for some good old fashioned kiddie spoiling, as well as to get much needed haircuts (the kids’ hairdresser is a separate business within ‘Toys “R” Us’ and don’t even get me started on the grumpy hairdresser!), when I noticed the Vision and Mission statements for Asia Pacific – a tiny sign, I’m sure many miss.

The Vision

That is not a Vision Statement in my opinion, and it’s also a very bad Mission Statement. A Vision is something you constantly strive towards – to be the best, to be the greatest, etc.. Another important point – when you are already a dominant player, using words like this is not a positive reflection on your brand.

The Mission

Again, not a Mission Statement and it says nothing – which it should do. A Mission Statement clarifies an organizations’ purpose, and should include socially meaningful statements – the value you deliver to the world. It should take your business to a higher level.

Looking through the ‘Toys “R” Us’ Website, I noticed a couple of things. The Singapore store is part of ‘Toys “R” Us’ International (so it’s owned by HQ and not a licensed retailer) AND the vision and values expressed on this Website are not in-line with the ones I saw in Singapore.

According to the Website, here are the Values:

“At Toys“R”Us, Inc., we believe that by being rapid, real, reliable and responsible, we will best serve our customers, employees, shareholders, communities and kids!

  • Rapid: We believe that speed is a reflection of our culture. Our team is focused and clear with common, user-friendly processes and solutions; fast and urgent in decision-making and speed-to-market; and quick in adapting to change.
  • Real: Our team is urgent, sincere, authentic, helpful to work with and confident. We are “Playing to Win!”
  • Reliable: Being reliable means working as a team so everything can move faster. We are a company that is dependable, and we produce what we promise.
  • Responsible: We believe that honesty, integrity and compassion are the foundation upon which we work together and conduct our business. Keeping kids safe is a cornerstone of the brand.”

I’m sorry, but I don’t think the R idea is working. It’s corny and to me, comes across as insincere. Does anyone else agree?

As a publicly listed company, I appreciate that ‘Toys “R” Us’ have an obligation to focus on things like child safety, and the other educational benefits of the products offered. However, I would say that for the world’s largest toy store, they are certainly lacking the true benefits a well crafted Vision and Mission statement (as well as Values) can deliver to a company. They also aren’t translating these ideas into action in Asia – such as a focus on excellent customer service. I’m also a little curious why the vision and mission in Singapore is different to HQ, when it is owned directly? Localise it for sure, but it should be similar.

The only statement in the corporate section I think they got right is “At Toys“R”Us®, we love kids!Yes, that’s right, that’s what your company is all about, so everything you write about the company and attribute to the company should reflect exactly that. These words need to be about the heart of your company, and as far as I can see – there’s very little heart in the words at all.

Here’s a little dabble at what I think would make great statements for your company:

Our Vision

To be the greatest toy shop in the world for kids and their loved ones

Or why not get cheeky, because it’s true…

To be the greatest toy shop in the world for kids and those responsible for the spoiling

Our Mission

I would suggest you check out Ben & Jerry’s for inspiration in how to approach your mission statement – as I think this is one of the most inspiring B2C mission statements today.

However, as a large company, doing great things in the community, I believe you have a real opportunity to come up with a meaningful yet delightful mission statement, that reflects what you do, as well as acknowledging your customers – kids with huge smiles on their faces whenever they enter your premises.  

A starting suggestion:

“Our mission is to fulfil kids’ fantasies by providing the best range of fun AND educational toys in the world. We inspire their imaginations and creativity. We inspire them to be better people. And we encourage them to be healthy and active, ready to embrace their futures. We achieve this by….. Over to your marketing team.

A bit of a moan about ‘Toys “R” Us’ but hey, don’t put your Vision and Mission Statements on display for people like me to see, ‘cos I never miss a bad one, but neither do I miss a good one.

Cheers

Andrea