Amazon is mailing its first toy catalog because everything old is new again


Amazon’s 70-page catalog will be sent to millions of customers.

This holiday season, as you sift through greeting cards and party invitations from friends and family, you might find you’ve gotten mail from an unexpected sender: Amazon.

The Seattle giant has just printed a holiday toy catalog, and will be mailing it out to millions of customers starting in November. This is the first time Amazon has ever sent out a holiday shopping catalog, according to CNBC. The catalog is called “A Holiday of Play” and it’ll feature 70 pages of Amazon’s “favorite picks for every baby, kid, tween, and teen.”

In a statement to Vox, Amazon said that it’s “excited to offer a new way for customers to shop for toys this holiday season,” although it did not share exactly which customers it would be targeting by mail. The catalog features pages dedicated to popular toy brands like VTech, Lego, Little Tikes, and Hotwheels. Some products are displayed with a QR code, so shoppers can use their Amazon app to drop the product right into their shopping cart, and to browse through recommendations of similar toys. Amazon also uses the advertisement, of course, to promote its Echo Dot Kids smart speaker.

Amazon’s 2018 toy catalog, “A Holiday of Play.”

Sending out a toy catalog is no doubt Amazon’s bid to capture the customer base of the now-defunct Toys R Us. And the company is taking a particularly aggressive approach to the upcoming shopping blitz: Earlier this week, Amazon extended its free two-day shipping to all shoppers during the holiday season, a perk that’s usually exclusively enjoyed by its Prime members.

It’s not the only company ramping up its holiday efforts: Target and Walmart recently announced free two-day shipping perks of their own, and both companies have also expanded their in-store toy sections, in an apparent bid to nab former Toys R Us customers, too.

Amazon’s move into mail is also a notable example of the cyclical nature of shopping. If you live in a city or a highly-populated suburban area, it’s highly likely that you receive mail from startups. As the cost to target customers on social media has increased, more and more digital companies are turning to the old-school method of sending customers mail, seeing it as a useful way to get ahead of all the online noise.

Toy catalogs are the perfect way to indoctrinate children as miniature Amazon devotees.

Similarly, while the company is often credited with killing off bookstores, Amazon has moved into the physical retail space: It now has 17 bookstores, and has been testing out other store concepts, like its cashier-less stores, Amazon Go and Amazon 4-Star. Countless other digital brands, such as Warby Parker, Casper, Away, Allbirds, and Birchbox, have moved into stores too, signaling that the new school is still very interested in trying out old-school methods.

It’s no wonder Amazon is following suit. The company is eager to get into customers’ homes — hence its bid for kitchen appliances — and toy catalogs are the perfect way to indoctrinate children as miniature Amazon devotees. Our homes are likely already flooded with Amazon boxes; a catalog fits right in perfectly.