October 21, 2009 / 10:31 PM / 10 years ago

Mattel website lets shoppers buy direct

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Top toymaker Mattel Inc (MAT.O) is taking its toys directly to shoppers in time for the holiday season with a new website called MattelShop.com.

The site began operating without fanfare late last week. It mainly targets parents and showcases about 26 brands made by the world’s largest toy company, ranging from Barbie and Hot Wheels to Polly Pocket and Matchbox.

It allows online customers to connect with friends while shopping and to jointly research toys before making purchases, a feature that could help far-flung family members agree on gifts.

Users can also share their findings with friends and family by accessing links to community sites like Facebook and Twitter.

“It is really a key tenet of responding to what consumers are looking for today...a simple, understandable, intuitive way to take the stress out of the holiday shopping experience,” Chuck Scothon, general manager of Mattel’s digital network said in an interview on Wednesday.

Though the new website will give it a better opportunity to sell directly to customers, Mattel said it would not engage in a price war with retailers who carry its brands. The toymaker plans to offer only value-based promotions on the site, like free shipping for instance, rather than discounts.

Retail giants like Target Corp (TGT.N) and Wal-Mart Stores Inc (WMT.N) have already stepped up their traditional holiday toy price war this year, slashing prices by as much as 50 percent.

Unlike sites of retailers which sell toys, the new website from Mattel will showcase the entire array of products under its various brands and carry more information, including demos about how the toys work and videos that help parents understand the movie or TV show the characters come from.

“As the manufacturer, we make sure that you see everything, not just what certain retailers have provided,” Scothon said.

“They (children) may just say ‘I want that Butterfly Barbie or I want that car in the Hot Wheels show.’ This gives us an ability to give mom, dad a little extra dimension that maybe helps to explain that request.”

The site is here

Editing by Michele Gershberg; editing by Carol Bishopric

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