Soft Robotics raises $23 million from investors including industrial robot giant FANUC

Robotics startup company Soft Robotics has closed its Series B round of funding, raising $23 million led by Calibrate Ventures and Material Impact, and including participation from exiting investors including Honeywell, Yahama, Hyperplane and more. This round also brings in FANUC, the world’s largest maker of industrial robots and a recently announced strategic partner for Soft Robotics .

The company said in a press release announcing this latest round of funding that the round was oversubscribed, which suggests it isn’t looking to glut itself on capital investors, given that this $23 million follows a similarly sized $20 million round that closed in 2018 which it also referred to as “oversubscribed.” Prior to that, Soft Robotics had raised $5 million in a Series A round closed in 2015. It has plenty of large, global clients already, so it’s probably not hurting for revenue.

Soft Robotics is focused on developing robotic grippers that, as you might’ve guessed from the name, make use of soft material endpoints that can more easily grip a range of different objects without the kind of extremely specific and tolerance-allergic complex programming that’s required for most traditional industrial robotic claws.

With its 2018 funding raise, Soft Robotics said that it was expanding further into food and beverage, as well as doubling down on its presence in the retail and logistics industries. This round and its new partnership with FANUC (which involves a new integrated system that pairs its mGrip robotic gripper with a new Mini-P controller, all with simple integration to FANUC’s existing lineup of industrial robots) will give it strategic and functional access to what is the most influenentioal industrial robotics company in the world.

This round will specifically help Soft Robotics spend on growth, looking to increase its variability even further and work on expanding its food packaging and consumer goods applications, as well as diving into e-commerce and logistics – specifically to help automate and improve the returns process, a costly and ever-growing challenge as more retail moves online.

Google Cloud launches new solutions for retailers

It’s no secret that the Google Cloud management team has decided to focus its efforts on a select number of enterprise verticals like healthcare, manufacturing, financial services, energy and life sciences. Retail, too, has long been a growth market for the company, especially as Amazon’s competitors are looking to run their services on clouds that are not AWS. Current customers include the likes of Kohl’s, Lowe’s and France’s Carrefour. It’s maybe no surprise, then, that Google today used NRF 2020, one of the largest retail events, to launch a number of updates to its services for retailers.

Some of the announcements today focus on specific vertical editions of existing services, including Google Cloud API Management for Retail, powered by Apigee, or Google Cloud Anthos for Retail, which specifically targets retailers that want to modernize their store operations and infrastructure. There also is Google Cloud Search for Retail, powered by Google Search, which promises to bring better product search results to a retailer’s applications.

In addition, Google also is expanding to more customers programs like its Retail Acceleration Program and making its white-glove Customer Reliability Engineering service, which helps retailers better plan for and manage their peak shopping days, available to more customers.

What’s maybe more interesting, though, is new services like Google Cloud 1:1 Engagement for Retail, “a blueprint and best-practice guide on how to build these types of data-driven solutions effectively and with less up-front cost.” The idea here is to help retailers make use of Google’s big data platform to build personalization and recommendation models to better understand and engage their customers.

Also new is a buy optimization and demand forecasting service that aims to help retailers better plan their logistics operations.

We’ll likely see Google use a similar playbook for more verticals over time. We know that Google Cloud has ambitions to become the No. 2 cloud provider within a few years, and, to do so, it needs to get large enterprises — and especially those that are still trying to figure out their cloud strategies — to opt for its services.

Cyber Monday on track to deliver $9.4B in US online sales

Cyber Monday online sales are on track to hit $9.4 billion today, a figure that’s up 18.9% year-over-year, and even larger than Black Friday’s record-breaking $7.4 billion in online sales, according to analytics from Adobe.

As of 9 AM Eastern on Cyber Monday, U.S. online shoppers had already spent $473 million, Adobe says.

Adobe’s forecasts and reports are based on over 1 trillion visits to U.S. online retail sites and 55 million SKUs. And its Adobe Analytics service is able to measure transactions from 80 of the top 100 U.S. retailers.

Retailers smartly addressed the shortened post-Thanksgiving time frame by rolling out their deals a week earlier. That plan worked, as U.S. consumers spent a record $72.1 billion online shopping since November 1, representing 16.3% year-over-year growth.

Through this weekend, consumers spent $7.4 billion, including “Small Business Saturday” and “Super Sunday,” which are newer terms for the big shopping days after Thanksgiving and Black Friday .

Top sellers so far have included Frozen 2 toys, L.O.L Surprise Dolls, Paw Patrol toys, video games like Madden 20 and FIFA 20 and the Nintendo Switch. Electronics like Samsung TVs, Apple laptops and Amazon Echo devices also sold well. One report claims Apple may have sold as many as 3 million pairs of AirPods from Black Friday until today.

Adobe says Cyber Monday shoppers today can expect the biggest discounts on TVs (savings of 19%, on average), toys (20% savings) and computers (18% savings). Furniture and bedding, however, may be cheaper on Giving Tuesday (tomorrow), at 10% off.

In addition to the usual factors that influence Cyber Monday sales, the shopping holiday may get a boost from the bad weather, too. When extreme weather arrives, shoppers tend to stay indoors and shop at home. On Black Friday, for example, states that recorded more than two inches of snow saw a 7% bump in online sales.

“Online shopping received some unexpected boosts this holiday season. Retailer fears of a shorter season meant that deals came much sooner than usual, and consumers took notice. In some areas of the country, adverse weather in the form of snow and heavy rain meant that many opted to stay home instead and grabbed the best deals online. Just look at Black Friday, which brought in $7.4 billion online and is just below last year’s Cyber Monday at $7.9 billion,” said Taylor Schreiner, principal analyst and head of Adobe Digital Insights.

“Consumers are reimagining what it means to shop during the holidays, with smartphones having a breakout season as well. We expect that consumers will spend $14 billion more this holiday season via their phones,” Schreiner added.

Adobe also notes that Cyber Monday’s four golden hours — 10 PM through 2 AM ET — will bring in 30% ($2.8 billion) of today’s revenue as shoppers show up to grab the deals before they end. During the peak hour of 11 PM ET to midnight, shoppers will spend $11 million per minute.

Adobe’s forecast of $9.4 billion in Cyber Monday sales will likely be at least roughly accurate, but the company won’t have the exact total until the day ends — and it could end up being a little less. The actual Black Friday sales numbers came in just under Adobe’s prediction of $7.5 billion, for example.

A related forecast from Salesforce is estimating slightly smaller Cyber Monday sales, by comparison. It instead predicts Black Friday will deliver $8 billion in U.S. sales and $30 billion worldwide — representing 15% and 12% year-over-year growth, respectively.

 

U.S. online shoppers already spent $50B in November, holiday season on track for $143.7B

Facing a shorter holiday shopping season this year, U.S. retailers started rolling out their Black Friday deals earlier than usual. That move has paid off, according to new e-commerce data shared by Adobe Analytics this morning, which found that U.S. consumers have already spent $50.1 billion online between November 1 and November 26, 2019 — which represents a comparable increase of 15.8 percent year-over-year.

This year, Thanksgiving arrived on November 28, a full week later than it did in 2018 when it came on November 22. That left retailers with 6 fewer days to drive post-Thanksgiving Day sales — a situation it hadn’t been in since 2013, when the shorter time frame led to serious delivery struggles. To salvage the lost shopping days (and to not again find themselves in a similar situation as 2013), retailers simply rolled out their deals a week early.

For example, Amazon kicked off a Black Friday deals week on November 22. Walmart introduced early savings through “Buy Now” deals on Walmart.com, in addition to a pre-Black Friday event that started on Nov. 22. Target integrated Shipt’s same-day shopping service into its app and ran a preview sale, weekend deals, and today, Nov. 27, an early access sale. Other retailers followed suit, as well.

But consumers weren’t even waiting for these Black Friday preview deals to start shopping. According to Adobe Analytics, which tracks online transactions for 80 of the top 100 U.S. retailers, all 26 days in November so far have surpassed $1 billion in online sales. Seven days even passed $2 billion in sales, which made 2019 the first year to see multiple $2 billion days this early in the shopping season.

And as of this morning, $240 million has already been spent online, representing 19.3% growth year-over-year, and putting the day on track to hit $2.9 billion.

 

Based on this data, Adobe believes its earlier forecast of $143.7 billion spent during the full holiday shopping season (Nov.-Dec.) remains accurate. That estimate represents a 14.1% rise from a year ago, according to Adobe. In addition, the three biggest shopping days — Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday — will also see increases, it says.

Thanksgiving Day sales are forecast to jump 19.7% year-over-year to $4.4 billion; Black Friday is expected to grow by 20.5% to reach $7.5 billion; and Cyber Monday sales are expected to top the charts at $9.4 billion, an increase of 19.1% year-over-year — a new record.

The firm also sees a surge in mobile shopping this year, with 34.3% of all e-commerce sales being made via a smartphone, up 24.2% year-over-year. App Annie’s mobile shopping forecast had also predicted a record numbers of mobile shoppers, with a 25% year-over-year increase in time spent mobile shopping during the weeks of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. The firm said shoppers will spend 2.2 billion hours globally across shopping apps this holiday season.

Other notable trends include a rise in “buy online, pickup in-store” shopping — 61% will take advantage of this, leading to 27% more in sales over last year. Plus email promotions this season have led to 16.5% of all online revenue, up 10% year-over-year. Paid search accounted for 23.7% of sales, while social media led to just 2.8%.

In terms of products, shoppers are buying Apple AirPods, Apple Laptops, Samsung and LG TV’s, Frozen 2 toys, L.O.L Surprise Dolls, NERF toys, Pikmi Pops, Fortnite toys, and games like Pokemon Sword/Shield, Jedi Fallen Order, and Madden 20.

“With the shorter shopping season and retailers starting their promotions earlier, Adobe is seeing holiday discounts already well underway even before Thanksgiving Day,” said Jason Woosley, Vice President of Commerce Product & Platform at Adobe. “For televisions alone, shoppers are already seeing discounts twice as deep as expected with average savings yesterday of 17.5%. Those consumers who grab their smartphone to do some quick online shopping after dinner are likely to find offers that are even better than this time last year,” he added.

 

PayPal to acquire shopping and rewards platform Honey for $4B

PayPal announced today it has agreed to acquire Honey Science Corporation, the makers of a deal-finding browser add-on and mobile application, for $4 billion, mostly cash. The acquisition, which is PayPal’s largest to date, will give the payments giant a foothold earlier in the customer’s shopping journey. Instead of only competing on the checkout page against credit cards or Apple Pay, for example, PayPal will leap ahead to become a part of the deal discovery process, as well.

Currently, Honey’s 17 million monthly active users take advantage of its suite of money-saving tools to track prices, get alerts, make lists, browse offers and participate in an Ebates-like rewards program called Honey Gold. Its users tend to be younger, millennial shoppers, both male and female.

PayPal aims to add Honey’s technology to its own product line, expanding its reach to PayPal’s 300 million users.

“What’s exciting is that we can take the functionality Honey now offers — which is product discovery, price tracking, offers and loyalty — and build that into the PayPal and Venmo experiences,” explains PayPal SVP of Global Consumer Products and Technology, and former Xoom CEO, John Kunze. “When Honey says they’re putting money in the pockets of their customers — that’s perfectly in line with what we want to do. We want to make digital commerce and financial services more affordable, easier to use, more fun and more accessible to people around the world,” he says.

In addition, PayPal’s network of 24 million merchant partners will gain the ability to offer targeted and more personalized promotions to consumers as a means of acquiring new business and driving increased sales. PayPal Credit may also be integrated into Honey to help finance larger purchases.

Honey has flown under the radar to some extent since its founding in 2012.

Originally only a web browser extension, Honey tracks sales and retailers’ promo codes, as a rival to RetailMeNot and others. What makes the extension so useful is that it automatically tries all the eligible promo codes for you during checkout then selects the one that provided the most savings and applies it on your behalf. This helps shoppers feel more comfortable with their purchases and reduces shopping cart abandonment.

The company also rolled out features to inform shoppers of an item’s price history, including the historical pricing of any product on Amazon’s marketplace. In 2017, Honey launched DropList, which would track and alert users to lower prices, as well as tools for finding travel deals.

As more consumers shifted their shopping to e-commerce merchants, Honey’s user base also rapidly grew.

Its browser extension now works across approximately 30,000 merchant websites, including fashion, technology, travel and even pizza delivery. Last year, Honey publicly shared that its 10 million members had saved over $800 million using its tools. As of today, Honey’s 17 million members have saved more than $2 billion to date.

 

“Honey is amongst the most transformative acquisitions in PayPal’s history. It provides a broad portfolio of services to simplify the consumer shopping experience, while at the same time making it more affordable and rewarding,” said Dan Schulman, president and CEO of PayPal, in a statement.

“The combination of Honey’s complementary consumer products with our platform will significantly enhance our ability to drive engagement and play a more meaningful role in the daily lives of our consumers. As a partner of choice for our merchants, this is another way that we can help them build and strengthen their customer relationships, provide personalized offers, and drive incremental sales. The combination of Honey and PayPal adds another significant and meaningful dimension to our two-sided platform,” Schulman added.

The acquisition also gives PayPal a way to fight back against the increased competition from Apple, Google, Facebook and other tech companies that have entered the payments market in recent years. On Apple’s Q4 2019 earnings call, for example, CEO Tim Cook noted that Apple Pay has now exceeded PayPal transaction volume with 3 billion transactions in the quarter. Meanwhile, analysts are predicting Facebook Pay has the potential to unseat both Apple Pay and PayPal alike.

Then there are PayPal’s original rivals — the world’s biggest card networks like Visa, Mastercard, American Express and Discover. These companies are also fighting to remain relevant online, with a new PayPal competitor of their own to simplify online checkout.

With Honey, PayPal immediately shifts the battle away from the checkout page itself to instead compete against all the places people go to discover, browse, get inspired and deal-hunt — whether that’s directly on retailers’ sites or through newer platforms, like Pinterest or Instagram Shopping.

As a result of the acquisition, Honey co-founders George Ruan and Ryan Hudson will join PayPal where they’ll work on product integrations and scaling the technology to a much larger user base. Also joining is Honey’s predominantly L.A.-based team of 350 employees.

The Honey team and headquarters will remain in L.A., where they’ve just signed a lease on a new office space with expansion goals in mind.

“Combining PayPal’s assets and reach with our technology, we can build powerful new online shopping experiences for consumers and merchants,” said Hudson. “We’ll have the ability to help millions of retailers efficiently reach consumers with offers that deliver more and more value to Honey members.”

To date, Honey had raised $49 million from investors, including Ludlow Ventures, Zuma Partners, Mucker Capital, SXE Ventures, BAM Ventures, Plug and Play, Wonder Ventures, Cendana Capital, Anthos Capital and others, according to Crunchbase.

Honey was already profitable on a net income basis in 2018, PayPal notes. The acquisition is expected to close in the first quarter of 2020, subject to regulatory approval. It’s expected to be accretive to PayPal’s non-GAAP earnings per share in 2021.

PayPal will hold a conference call at 2 PM PST today to discuss the transaction further.

Target integrates Shipt’s same-day delivery service into its mobile app

Same-day delivery is coming to Target’s app. The retailer announced this morning that its same-day shopping service Shipt, which Target acquired two years ago for $550 million, will now be integrated directly into the Target mobile application. Though Shipt is widely known as an online grocery service that competes with Instacart and others, Target is putting the service to work to do more than deliver food and various household items.

Instead, Shipt is turning into Target’s own version of Amazon’s Prime Now. Currently, Target shoppers can order 65,000 items from the app for same-day delivery, including not just groceries and essentials, but also toys, baby-care products, kitchenware, and more. For comparison’s sake, Amazon says Prime Now offers “tens of thousands” of products for one or 2-hour delivery. Shipt may not have quite as tight windows, however — just “same-day.”

While Amazon doesn’t disclose how many exact products are available via Prime Now, as it varies by location, a 2018 study indicated that Amazon’s biggest markets offered around 55,000 Prime Now products per city, while many other cities offered 34K-41K SKUs.

Unlike Prime Now, Shipt doesn’t require a membership, though one is available. Instead, shoppers can opt to pay a $9.99 delivery fee per same-day order. This is similar to how Walmart Grocery operates, though it’s now rolling out a subscription option for its more regular customers.

Shipt’s integration with the Target app doesn’t mean the dedicated Shipt app is going away — that’s still a more convenient experience for shopping groceries at this time. However, it is a way for Target to offer Shipt delivery to a wider customer base of mobile consumers.

The mobile integration follows the launch of a dedicated shopping site for same-day delivery on Target.com earlier this year, which had a similar goal.

Target has been steadily modernizing its business to better compete with Amazon and help customers shop however they want — in-store, online or some hybrid of the two, as with Drive Up orders. In less than two years’ time, Drive Up became a top-rated service and it more than doubled the number of 2018 orders by fulfilling more than 5 million orders in the first part of the year, for example. Meanwhile, Target recently said that 1 in 5 customers were placing same-day orders with Target for the first time in Q2, indicating the potential for growth in same-day.

The same-day Shipt integration is rolling out today in the Target app which also includes a new “My Store” tab where shoppers can convert lists to a shopping cart with a “Delivery” button. A “Discover” also helps them to navigate and find other features, like deals and seasonal content.

Target tells us same-day delivery is now available in nearly 250 markets across 48 states.

Target integrates Shipt’s same-day delivery service into its mobile app

Same-day delivery is coming to Target’s app. The retailer announced this morning that its same-day shopping service Shipt, which Target acquired two years ago for $550 million, will now be integrated directly into the Target mobile application. Though Shipt is widely known as an online grocery service that competes with Instacart and others, Target is putting the service to work to do more than deliver food and various household items.

Instead, Shipt is turning into Target’s own version of Amazon’s Prime Now. Currently, Target shoppers can order 65,000 items from the app for same-day delivery, including not just groceries and essentials, but also toys, baby-care products, kitchenware, and more. For comparison’s sake, Amazon says Prime Now offers “tens of thousands” of products for one or 2-hour delivery. Shipt may not have quite as tight windows, however — just “same-day.”

While Amazon doesn’t disclose how many exact products are available via Prime Now, as it varies by location, a 2018 study indicated that Amazon’s biggest markets offered around 55,000 Prime Now products per city, while many other cities offered 34K-41K SKUs.

Unlike Prime Now, Shipt doesn’t require a membership, though one is available. Instead, shoppers can opt to pay a $9.99 delivery fee per same-day order. This is similar to how Walmart Grocery operates, though it’s now rolling out a subscription option for its more regular customers.

Shipt’s integration with the Target app doesn’t mean the dedicated Shipt app is going away — that’s still a more convenient experience for shopping groceries at this time. However, it is a way for Target to offer Shipt delivery to a wider customer base of mobile consumers.

The mobile integration follows the launch of a dedicated shopping site for same-day delivery on Target.com earlier this year, which had a similar goal.

Target has been steadily modernizing its business to better compete with Amazon and help customers shop however they want — in-store, online or some hybrid of the two, as with Drive Up orders. In less than two years’ time, Drive Up became a top-rated service and it more than doubled the number of 2018 orders by fulfilling more than 5 million orders in the first part of the year, for example. Meanwhile, Target recently said that 1 in 5 customers were placing same-day orders with Target for the first time in Q2, indicating the potential for growth in same-day.

The same-day Shipt integration is rolling out today in the Target app which also includes a new “My Store” tab where shoppers can convert lists to a shopping cart with a “Delivery” button. A “Discover” also helps them to navigate and find other features, like deals and seasonal content.

Target tells us same-day delivery is now available in nearly 250 markets across 48 states.

Wayfair’s app adds 3D visualization tools, including interactive photos & a room planner

Home furnishing retailer Wayfair was among the first to adopt AR technology as a means of helping people better visual furniture and accessories in their own home, ahead of purchase. Today, the company is expanding its feature set to allow for more visualization capabilities — even when you’re shopping out in the real world and aren’t able to take a photo of your room to use AR.

Instead, shoppers will be able to leverage a new feature called “Interactive Photo,” which lets shoppers take a photo of their room then visualize multiple products within it, even when they’re not home in their own space. The feature itself uses technology to understand the spatial information of the room in the image to give you an AR-like experience using your photo.

Alongside this addition, Wayfair has updated its app to put its camera tools more at the forefront of the app experience. Similar to how you can click a camera icon next to the Amazon app’s search bar, you can now do the same in Wayfair. You can also then toggle between the various camera-based features with swipe gestures, in order to move between Wayfair’s visual search and its “View in Room” AR feature, which is also where you’ll find the new “Interactive Photo.”

The retailer has also launched its room design tool, Room Planner 3D, on the mobile shopping app. This allows shoppers to create an interactive room 3D room that they can view from any angle, while testing out different layouts, styles, room dimensions and more.

The update follows Amazon’s launch earlier this year of its own visual shopping experience called Showroom, which let online and mobile shoppers try out furniture and other décor in a customizable virtual room where they pick the wall color, flooring, carpet and more.

“With the latest updates to the Wayfair app, we continue to push the limits of what’s possible by iterating on advanced AR and machine learning capabilities, and introducing new and innovative spatial awareness techniques to an e-commerce experience, bridging the gap between imagination and reality,” said Matt Zisow, Vice President of Product Management, Experience Design and Analytics at Wayfair, in a statement.

The new feature set comes shortly after Wayfair’s third-quarter earnings, where the company reported a wider-than-expected loss of $2.33 per share, adjusted, versus the expected $2.10 per share. Revenue was up 35% year-over-year to $2.3 billion, above the anticipated $2.27 billion, however. The company attributed the miss to “short-term headwinds from tariffs.”

However, as the holiday shopping season heats up, Wayfair still needs to unveil enticing features that will encourage consumers to redownload its app and shop — especially given that smartphones alone drove $2.1 billion in U.S. online sales last Black Friday.  

The new Wayfair app is out now on iOS and Android, but the new features — Interactive Photo, Integrated Camera and Room Planner 3D — are only on iOS.

Shopping Ads come to YouTube’s home feed and search results

There’s a new kind of ad coming to YouTube . Google announced today the launch of Shopping ads on YouTube, which lets brands advertise their products and services right in the YouTube home feed and search results. For example, if a user searches for “Puma shoes review,” a Shopping ad may offer a row of suggested products at the top of the page before the video results.

The ads may also appear as a carousel between the videos on the homepage.

Puma is a debut advertiser for the new shopping ad product, but the video site will soon fill with these sorts of product suggestions.

“Consumers are continuing to watch more content on the YouTube platform and we want to be where they are, to reach and engage them,” said Rick Almeida, Vice President of eCommerce at Puma Group, in a statement about its new YouTube ads. “This new opportunity will enable Puam to extend our shopping strategy into a new property and inspire consumers,” he added.

As Google explains, the ads can be shown to YouTube users based on their interests.

To continue the Puma example, the user wouldn’t necessarily have to type in “Puma” to encounter an ad for the running shoes — simply expressing an interest in running could have them coming across ads from Puma or any other retailers offering running apparel.

Like the Shopping ads that appear elsewhere across Google’s platform — including Search, Shopping, partner websites, and the Google Display Network — the YouTube Shopping ads will match to user’s interest not by using keywords but rather on the product details and information the brand submits through the Merchant Center.

The idea to leverage YouTube as a new platform for visual advertising comes at a time when other social networks — like Instagram, Pinterest, and even TikTok — are making it easier for users to shop products from their apps. Pinterest has been working to capture shopper interest earlier on in the journey, then track the path from visual inspiration and pinning all the way through to purchase.

Instagram this year launched shopping checkout, allowing users to transact from sellers without leaving the Instagram app. More recently, TikTok launched a “Hashtag Challenge Plus” product that lets video viewers shop for products in its app, as well.

But YouTube hadn’t yet fully capitalized on its ability to direct its audience to specific products, rather focusing on Discover ads that would include a visual and a few lines of text, but not necessarily a unique product.

Google says advertisers already using standard Shopping campaigns today and who are opted in to YouTube on Display Network, will be immediately able to run YouTube Shopping ads.

The new ads are only one of several changes YouTube announced today. It also said its video ads will now be more interactive, giving users actionable information like store location, interest forms, and additional calls-to-actions to help drive more conversions. It’s also rolling out sitelink extensions for TrueView for action ads that will allow viewers to navigate to additional landing pages, like those for holiday catalogs, store hours and more. These will come in the months ahead.

Elsewhere on Google, Showcase Shopping ads are expanding to Google Images where users will be able to explore a larger selection of products from a brand.

Google had announced its plans to bring new ad products to YouTube back in May, when it revamped the Google Shopping product following the closure and rebranding of Google Express.

As a part of that larger update, the company mentioned a variety of ways it would be connecting the YouTube audience more directly with brands and products — including through its highly-visual Showcase Shopping ads and via Shopping Actions, which allow for purchases right from Google’s platforms.

The larger goal with the new ads is to appeal to users with more visual imagery, as today’s web users no longer just search Google.com and click on the links that return.

Toys R Us relaunches its website where online sales are powered by Target

Toys R Us is back online, thanks to a new deal with Target. Tru Kids, the parent company that acquired the defunct toy chain following its bankruptcy, has announced the relaunch of the ToysRUs.com website as it begins the process of opening its retail stores across the U.S. As a part of its comeback strategy, the Toys R Us website’s product pages will redirect to Target.com when consumers click the “buy” button to make an online purchase.

The retailers didn’t discuss the terms of the deal, but a revenue-sharing agreement is clearly involved in a scenario like this, given the mutual benefits. Toys R Us would be able to quickly establish cash flow from the still top-ranked, well-established domain name toysrus.com, while Target could get an influx of new sales from shoppers who visited ToysRUs.com, unaware of the toy chain’s bankruptcy and relaunch.

In addition to redirecting online shoppers to Target, the new website also features articles and videos about the latest toy trends and hot brands, plus in-depth product reviews, hot toy lists, and other brand experiences. These will be available on the ToysRUs website itself. Only when a customer is ready to make a purchase will they be sent over to Target for checkout.

The site’s “Buy” button is also clearly labeled so there’s no confusion at checkout. In Target’s red-and-white brand colors, it reads “buy now at [target].com” where the word “Target” is replaced with the Target logo icon.

Target shoppers sent to ToysRUs get the same benefits they would if shopping directly — meaning, they can place orders for delivery, curbside or store order pickup, and can earn loyalty points with Target Circle, or get 5% by paying with a Target REDcard.

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The new partnership between the retailers isn’t only focused on redirecting consumers’ traditional e-commerce product sales, however.

Target says it will also fulfill online sales when Toys R Us opens up its first experiential retail stores later this fall in Houston, Texas and Paramus, New Jersey.

Tru Kids had previously announced a deal with tech startup b8ta to create a modernized toy store experience featuring things like STEAM workshops, a treehouse for kids to play in, theaters for movies and games, and a way for brands to showcase their products in a more interactive environment.

At these stores, guests who want to purchase items that aren’t available in the store itself will be able to place their order with a store associate that gets fulfilled through Target.com.

“Target’s leadership in toys, digital and fulfillment are an unbeatable platform for ToysRUs to reconnect with their fans while we introduce them to the ease and convenience of shopping at Target,” said Nikhil Nayar, senior vice president of merchandising at Target, in a statement. “By applying our capabilities in a new way with ToysRUs, we can serve even more toy shoppers, drive new growth, and build on our toy leadership,” Nayar added.

The new deal with Toys R Us isn’t the only significant toy-related partnership Target has made in recent weeks. At the end of August, the retailer announced an agreement with Disney that sees it opening mini Disney stores within its retail stores, where shoppers can buy toys, apparel, collectibles, home items, and more. Twenty-five Disney “shop-in-shops” are open now and dozens more are planned for 2020.

“Our U.S. strategy is to bring back the ToysRUs brand in a modern way through a strong experiential and content-rich omnichannel concept,” Tru Kids CEO Richard Barry, a former Toys R Us exec, in a statement about the Target partnership.

“The foundation of that strategy requires the help of a retail industry leader and Target is the ideal retailer to support a new ToysRUs shopping experience, which is designed to provide families with endless ways to discover, play and enjoy toys. Target will help us deliver on that experience with its toy assortment, digital strength and ability to deliver orders to shoppers in a matter of hours,” he said.