Barbour, John

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Scotland native John Barbour took over in August of 1999 when Robert Moog, the original CEO of the fledgling e-commerce venture, resigned after a mere five weeks at the helm. Barbour had worked for nine years as a marketing executive at Hasbro when he was tapped for the job at Toys 'R' Us. Prior to that, Barbour served as a marketing vice president for Universal Matchbox Group, based in the United Kingdom. Earlier in his career, he also completed stints in the sales and marketing departments of General Mills, M&M Mars, and Procter & Gamble.

Toys "R" Us officially launched its e-commerce site in April of 1999 with $80 million in capital. Difficulties emerged almost immediately when Benchmark Capital backed out of its agreement to front the dot-com venture an additional $10 million. Moog's sudden resignation dealt the giant toy retailer another blow. By the time Barbour joined the fray, he was left with a mere four months to not only get a new site up and running, but also to prepare for the approaching holiday crunch. To entice customers to try the site, Barbour and his management team developed promotions such as free delivery and a $10 coupon for merchandise bought online.

Unfortunately, the marketing efforts worked a bit too well. In what was eventually regarded by some industry analysts as a classic example of both the potential and pitfall of e-commerce ventures, traffic on the site grew 10 times beyond projected numbers. Despite increasing its servers fourfold, soon realized it would be unable to meet the unprecedented demand. Hoping to salvage the company's reputation, Barbour spearheaded a plan to send customers whose deliveries were late a $100 gift certificate. When the dust settled, began looking at ways to increase its capacity and better prepare for spikes in growth. The firm adopted ColdFusion, a program that tripled each server's capacity, and hired an outside Internet consultant to examine the site's technology and recommend improvements.

Barbour also began looking for strategic alliances. In August of 2000, joined forces with to build a Web site that coupled the inventory of Toys 'R' Us with the e-commerce savvy of Amazon. Holiday sales for grew more than threefold, and as Molly Prior reported in DSN Retailing Today, "the pundits can't help but wonder if the marriage of a pure-player to a bricks-and-clicks category leader is the wave of the future for Internet retailing."


Cirillo, Rich. " Learns E-Biz Lessons the Hard Way." VARbusiness. January 10, 2000.

Corral, Cecile B. "New CEO Looks to the Future." Discount Stores News. August 23, 1999.

"Misadventures in E-retailing." Promo. August 2000.

Prior, Molly. "Amazon, TRU Web Site Proves Successful Online Model." DSN Retailing Today. January 22, 2001.

Radolf, Michael. "Barbour Takes Toys 'R' Us Online." Brand-week. September 6, 1999.

Sliwa, Carole. "Holiday Lessons." Computerworld. July 10, 2000.

SEE ALSO: Business-to-Consumer (B2C) E-Commerce

Barbour, John

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Barbour, John (d. 1395). Medieval Scottish poet, author of The Bruce. Barbour was probably born in south-west Scotland (c.1325), and became archdeacon of Aberdeen diocese (1357). In this position he played a significant role in political and ecclesiastical affairs, attending general council to discuss David II's ransom (1357), and travelling abroad to Oxford and France.

From the accession of Robert II (1371) he was closely associated with the royal court, acting as a clerk of audit and auditor of Exchequer regularly until 1385. He also received considerable financial patronage from the king, some undoubtedly for his compositions. The Bruce (written 1375–7) is the earliest substantial poem in Scots to survive. It deals with the reign of Robert I (1306–29), and is based on oral and written testaments, often of contemporaries. He is also known to have written The Brut and The Stewartis Original, which do not survive.

Roland Tanner

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