Canada’s largest specialty toy and children’s books retailer, Mastermind Toys, has appointed a new CEO amid a strategy shift aiming to enhance the customer journey while building further engagement with its base of loyal customers. Sarah Jordan, an experienced retail veteran with a background in customer experience and strategy, was appointed CEO of Mastermind Toys last month.
Ms. Jordan replaces the company’s co-founder Jon Levy, who was at the helm of the company since Mastermind Toys was founded in 1984. Mr. Levy and his brother, Andy, remain on the Board of Mastermind Toys and are providing strategic direction to the company moving forward. Ms. Jordan’s role also includes overseeing operations of former company president Humphrey Kadaner. Birch Hill Equity Partners owns a majority stake in Mastermind Toys which it acquired in 2010 when the retailer had 10 stores.
In an interview, Ms. Jordan shared how Mastermind Toys will seek to become even more customer-centric under her direction. That will include reimagining the retailer’s Canadian brick-and-mortar footprint as well as its e-commerce site. Ms. Jordan’s background includes having been a Principal at The Boston Consulting Group as well as being a Senior Vice President of Customer Experience and Omni Channel Strategy at Scotiabank.
Customer expectations have changed amid a shift in the retail industry, and Mastermind Toys is looking to be even more dynamic, according to Ms. Jordan. The company prides itself on being customer obsessed and is continually speaking to its customers as well as employees to enhance the overall retail experience. The goal is to ‘wow’ customers in the channel of their choice and delight them at the moments that matter.
Mastermind Toys is the authority of play in Canada and marketing efforts will be strengthened to enhance brand awareness, while engaging with customers to showcase Mastermind Toys’ curated product assortment of specialty toys and books.
Mastermind Toys launched a loyalty program in the fall of 2018. Called Mastermind Toys Perks, the program was warmly received after market research found that an impressive 94% of respondents indicated a strong desire for a loyalty program. Members enjoy free gift-wrapping and loot-bag assembly in stores, receive sneak previews and early alerts about new and tough-to-get items, get access to members-only promotions and events, not to mention receive customized offers and personalized toy recommendations. Perks members also receive surprise gifts and rewards throughout the year to mark milestones like birthdays and holidays.
The retailer also launched ‘click-and-collect’ in its stores in 2018, where shoppers can reserve product online and pick it up at their preferred store locations. Within an hour of receiving the request, store staff set aside the selected items for the customer. After launching in the summer of 2018, its feedback was overwhelmingly positive with 93% of users saying they were “satisfied/very satisfied” with the service, and with the same percentage saying they are “likely/very likely” to use the service again. Mastermind Toys will continue to build digital capabilities to attract new customers and to engage more meaningfully with existing customers.
Efforts under previous management will be enhanced under Ms. Jordan, who will oversee Mastermind Toy’s customer-centric strategy that is part of an effort to continue to grow its market share. The company occupies a unique niche in the marketplace, offering fun and educational toys and books that are also geared to feed the curious mind. Mastermind Toys has a large selection of items under their own private label, designed based on their 35-year heritage of watching kids play. Part of the strong loyalty to the retailer is from parents recognizing the unique value proposition, not to mention kids seeking out the newest and latest offerings, often exclusive and not available anywhere else.
Over the past several years, Mastermind Toys has expanded rapidly across Canada as it opened stores in new markets. Western Canada, which saw stores begin opening in 2013, has become a key market for the Toronto-based retailer. Ms. Jordan said that now that Mastermind has built a coast-to-coast presence it is looking at how its footprint needs to evolve to be even more experiential and to reflect the growing importance of digital.
We’ll follow up on this story when more details are revealed about the future of Mastermind Toys’ retail strategy in Canada.