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NZ's largest online toy store is 10 years old!

13 July 2006

NZ's largest online toy store is 10 years old!

iQ Toys was started back in 1996 with a handful of toys, a simple website (www.iqtoys.co.nz) and big aspirations. At the time, it was one of only a handful of online stores and New Zealand's very first online toy store. Run initially from a spare room in the Auckland house of Shane & Suzette Loomb, iQ Toys now operates from a large building in the Cambridge CBD.

Says Shane "it got to the point where we had boxes of toys in every room of the house, including the bedroom. It was then we knew it was time to find business premises".

When Shane and Suzette first started the business they were dinks (double income-no kids). The arrival of Max (now 6) and Jackson (now 4) has given them a different perspective but also offered the advantage of "having two dedicated and very enthusiastic toy testers that we don't have to pay" says Shane. This year, after nine years of working full time in paid employment during the day and on the business most evenings, Shane left a six-figure income to work full time in the business with his wife Suzette.

A focus for Shane since leaving full-time employment has been the Australian market. The company has had a presence in Australia since 2002 when it developed an Australian version of the iQ Toys website (www.iqtoys.au.com). To further develop its footprint in Australia Shane is currently in discussions with another NZ company to share its existing warehouse and distribution facility just outside Sydney.

The product range at iQ Toys is impressive, and with over 1750 products on offer there is more selection than most traditional toy stores. There are also plans to add a further 250 new toys over the next 2-3 months taking the total products to over 2000. Says Shane "our goal is to have the most comprehensive selection of toys available, all at great prices and with the added convenience of online shopping".

The customer base has grown steadily. Initially, most orders came from overseas customers for relatives residing in New Zealand. Overseas customers have remained a important part of the business but now more and more New Zealanders are choosing to shop online at iQ Toys. Shane puts this down to the extensive product range, competitive prices (with free shipping for orders all over $150) and acceptance that shopping online is not risky.

A large amount of thought and time is spent on developing and constantly improving the iQ Toys website.

a.. An innovative birthday reminder service automatically emails customers one week to two weeks prior to birthdays with toy suggestions appropriate to the age the child is turning. This free service, called 'The Toy Secretary' is extremely popular and has thousands of registered subscribers.

b.. Another important feature is the wishlist service, where customers can easily create a webpage of gifts suggestions and email it to friends and relatives worldwide. c.. Also, over 150 of the products have been reviewed by customers and product reviews make interesting and informative reading. d.. A final development is the integration of a 'Live Chat' customer service feature, where customers can click on a button on the site and chat in real time with a customer service operator. This service is expected to be extremely popular at Christmas time with hurried shoppers wanting quick service. With over 20,000 active customers a great product range and innovative improvements to the website, iQ Toys looks forward to another great 10 years in business.

www.iqtoys.co.nz

ENDS

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