These considerations carry even more weight when we explore the factors that will determine a successful website that markets toys.
The complexity of marketing toys on the Internet begins with the target audience. The website offering toys will be visited by young children, their parents, and grandparents. There will be vast differences in Internet capability and a wide variety of tastes. The site should be simple enough to navigate for a 10-year-old child, yet offer the sense of security and trust required for an adult to feel comfortable. The test of 3 websites offered by major toy retailers showed some important differences in usability across age groups.
To begin the investigation, we attempted to shop for two toys on etoys.com, toysrus.com, and fatbraintoys.com. These sites were selected by their prominence on the major search engines, which indicate they are probably most selected by consumers. While toysrus.com and etoys.com are for general toys, fatbraintoys.com has a niche market for educational toys. We looked for an erector set for a ten-year-old boy, and a Barbie doll for a ten-year-old girl. While toysrus.com used age brackets, such as 3-4 and 5-7 years of age, etoys.com and fatbraintoys.com listed each age below 8 separately. ...
Shopping by department fared no better. On toysrus.com, we looked for the erector set under building sets and retrieved hundreds of different toys. Narrowing the search by age the results were still overwhelming. Simply shopping for an erector set was not realistic. Only on fatbraintoys.com was the erector set a separate category. However, the search for a Barbie doll was much simpler. ToysRUs and etoys had a listing for 'characters' and 'brand', and Barbie was listed as a main category of toy. In fact, toysrus.com had 50 items listed under the Barbie category priced from $10 to $200. The Barbie department at etoys.com had over 100 Barbie items. The site operated by fatbraintoys did not carry a Barbie doll. When the search was narrowed to the 2008 Holiday Barbie doll, toysrus.com and etoys.com had the doll and both were identically priced. All three websites offered toys that were categorized as boy's or girl's toys. Marketing differentiation is a difficult task on the Internet, and will certainly come down to product placement.
Shopping for an erector set simply by narrowing the age group or shopping a department would take more time and patience than any child or adult would expend. However, all three sites have an easy to use site-specific search engine. By entering the word 'erector', all three sites returned their selection of erector sets. However, there were significant differences in the results. While etoys.com listed 3 different erector sets priced between $40 and $100, fatbraintoys.com listed 20 different sets in the range of $18 to $90. However, though toysrus.com only listed 8 different sets, they covered the wider price range of from $20 to $300. Clearly, when a consumer is shopping for a