I decided this year that my usual foray into the Christmas madness
of Hamleys was out of the question. It seemed more sensible to find an
online way to buy my little boy his annual Christmas Scalextric ’Because
That’s What Dad Wants To Play With’ present. The logical first step, I
thought, would be www.hamleys.co.uk.
Amazingly, for this first Christmas since the UK officially joined the
’e-commerce age’ (with its mention in this year’s Queen’s Speech), there
was no site at Hamleys.co.uk. A polite note from NetNames explained that
it has not yet got a UK site. The store obviously doesn’t realise there
are parents all over the UK who would pay extra not to have to go into
the store, if they could get their child’s chosen toy delivered to their
door (or desk) by Christmas Day.
Interestingly, Hamleys has a site aimed at the US market. At www.
hamleys.com, you find its US site boasting ’delivery to anywhere in the
US within three working days ... complete with ’Exclusive Hamleys gift
wrapping’. To add insult to injury, a little Union Flag highlights a
site which says ’Going live soon for UK deliveries’.
My national pride smarting, I thought I would see if it was cheaper to
buy the Scalextric from the US site and have it delivered to the UK.
Once I scratched below the surface of what appears to be a nicely
designed site, it became obvious that it is just a PR tool for the US
market and was offering an extremely limited catalogue of schlock ’gift’
After a fruitless trawl around the online offerings of the UK’s other
big toy retailers, I finally stumbled upon the GUS Toytown site, where I
found what I was looking for. It would seem that the toy world is
destined to be the next UK market sector to feel the rampaging wind of
competition from US online sites (like the exceptional ’e-toys’).
For Hamleys, in particular, with its global reputation, this Christmas
could turn out to be a massive missed opportunity.
New Media is edited by Binnur Beyaztas, who can be contacted at
Where to find it: www.hamleys.com