By Christopher Katsarov, originally published in the Globe and Mail.

It’s the kind of event where grownups play with slime and slinkies, and a life-size Peppa Pig wanders the conference rooms alongside executives. But Toys “R” Us Canada’s annual product showcase Tuesday, designed to prepare store operators for the crucial holiday season, wasn’t all fun and games. It also coincided with the news that president and CEO Melanie Teed-Murch had resigned.

But long term, the future of the business will also depend on attracting shoppers to stores. That means focusing on services. New features piloted under Ms. Teed-Murch, such as car seat technicians in stores, will begin to roll out more widely. Through the Babies “R” Us business, the retailer wants to build connections with future customers by offering personal shopper-like services to help new parents find what they need.

“They’ve got to get on the front foot for marketing. People just aren’t thinking of them now,” said Jennifer Marley, a partner at retail consultancy Sklar Wilton and Associates.

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