RealTime IT News

Party On, Kids

eToys Inc. launched new Party and Hobby stores and introduced new merchandising features including a Holiday Hot List.

The new stores and features are highlighted on eToys' Welcome Page, where consumers can find a directory of the major shopping areas: Toys; Books; Video Games; Software; DVD, Music & Videos; Hobbies; and Party, as well as links to the BabyCenter and new ParentCenter sites.

But whether the moves will impress Wall Street remains to be seen. The company's stock closed yesterday (before the announcement) at $3.72, near its all-time low and down from a 52-week high of $70.51.

The company has yet to have a profitable quarter and on Oct. 31 reported a second quarter loss of 33 cents per share. But at least one analyst says eToys is still in front in the highly competitive online toy market, where players include Amazon.com and Toys R Us.

"eToys is still the leader," Melissa Williams, an analyst with investment banking firm Gerard Klauer Mattison & Co., told Reuters. "They have a loyal customer following and will remain the leader in the short term."

The company said its Party Store aims to be a one-stop shop for birthday, holiday and other kids-oriented parties. Party planners can choose from more than 80 party themes, create and customize E-Invitations, and get ideas for activities, games and food.

The Hobby Store is stocked with thousands of hobby products including trains, planes, automobiles and rockets.

"Our mission is to offer all things for kids, all year long," said Toby Lenk, president and chief executive officer of eToys. "And the launch of our new commerce channels and Web site features are meaningful developments in our pursuit of that mission."

New merchandising features include something called Uniquely eToys, a lineup of more than 600 products proprietary to eToys. Products range from kid-friendly room dicor to one-of-a-kind toys.

The Holiday Hot List is a collection of more than 300 of the most popular holiday gifts in one place, from scooters to electronic dogs.

Another new feature is The Big Gift, which helps customers easily find an extra special gift for the children in their life. The Big Gift is also the showcase for eToys' new interactive product demonstrations. There's also a new Teen page.