YoYo.com, Brainchild of Amazon-Owned Quidsi, Debuts Its Version of Toyland

9/20/11Follow @jpruth

A new online retailer of toys, YoYo.com, goes live today, out to grab its share of the coming holiday gift buying season. YoYo is the latest addition to Jersey City-based Quidsi’s gallery of online specialty shops, which also includes Wag.com, Diapers.com, Soap.com, and BeautyBar.com. Quidsi is part of the Seattle giant Amazon.com.

“There was a huge opportunity for us to apply the model we’ve proved out with our existing sites to the toy space,” says Galyn Bernard, site director of YoYo.

She says YoYo was designed to make gift buying less overwhelming for customers while offering an assortment of 20,000 different toys, books, and games. For example, YoYo’s staff curates lists of toy ideas appropriate for different ages from infants through 13-year-olds to ease some of the decision-making burden that shoppers face. “In some instances, customers know exactly what they want, and sometimes they are looking for guidance,” Bernard says.

Visitors to YoYo will find features such as a toy finder that can be set by age, gender, and price. There are also filters to sort toys by such parameters as not requiring batteries or assembly. YoYo shares its online shopping cart with Quidsi’s other sites, which allows customers to gather purchases for different needs into one order. YoYo offers free two-day deliver for orders of $49 and up, though that threshold is reduced to $39 when purchases are combined from more than one of Quidsi’s sites.

Though YoYo does not currently have exclusive toys, Olivia Marks, director of merchandising for the website, says some niche brands plan to provide select items in the future. “One exclusive [agreement] we have for later in the year is with Wentworth Wooden Puzzles, a high-end British puzzle maker,” Marks says. YoYo will offer exclusive items from Wentworth for U.S. distribution through the end of the fourth quarter, she says.

Bernard says Quidsi chose to launch YoYo now to catch consumers’ attention after summer’s end and before the holiday rush for gifts begins. “We wanted to introduce existing customers to the site when it wasn’t so frantic,” she says. The YoYo team hopes the website will also be used to buy toys for every occasion year-round.

E-tailing can be a highly competitive market given that shoppers have little tolerance for late shipments during the holidays. The early days of online gift buying—especially the 1999 holiday shopping season—saw customers lambast companies that failed to deliver promised merchandise on time. Retailer Toys “R” Us in Wayne, NJ, thought it had the solution in 2000 when it turned to Amazon.com to manage its online toy sales. However, that agreement ended acrimoniously in 2006 with Toys “R” Us and Amazon going their separate ways. Over the years, the war for dominance in online toy sales saw the likes of eToys.com and KBtoys.com acquired in 2009 by Toys “R” Us.

Bernard says YoYo will do its best to set customers’ expectations appropriately. “We will be making clear our holiday cutoff dates in order to receive gifts,” she says. YoYo’s order fulfillment will be handled through Quidsi’s warehouses, Bernard says, which also ship products for Diapers, Soap, BeautyBar and Wag.

The addition of YoYo helps diversify Quidsi’s product offerings, Bernard says. Quidsi put advance word out to customers on its other websites about the arrival of YoYo.

She says consumable products sold by Quidsi’s other websites have historically seen sales dip during the fourth quarter. “In the holidays, people just aren’t spending on toilet paper, paper towels, and diapers as much as they are throughout the rest of the year,” Bernard says.

YoYo sorts gift ideas by age groups to help alleviate the stress of toy shopping.

Though some e-tailers are agog about flash sales, she says the trend does not speak directly to the aims of YoYo or other Quidsi’s sites. “Because the bread and butter of our business are consumables, it is a little bit less relevant,” she says. However, she says the company may consider leveraging flash sale options to call attention to lesser known brands or categories on its websites.

YoYo has a dedicated staff of 12 who work with a team of specialists from Quidsi who provide expertise in supply chain and user experience. Bernard says the current assortment of items puts YoYo on par with Toys “R” Us in terms of product diversity. “Twenty thousand [products] is fairly robust but we think there is a lot of opportunity to go deeper in categories like hobbies and collectibles,” she says.

João-Pierre S. Ruth is the editor of Xconomy New York. He can be reached at jpruth@xconomy.com and followed on Twitter @jpruth. Follow @jpruth

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