Toys"R"Us shoppers have more ways to stock up on gifts this holiday season. In addition to updates made to store's iPhone and Android apps, Toys R Us has formed new partnerships with Google and shopkick to help customers locate the product they want, pay for purchases and save money, all from their mobile devices.

"Mobile commerce is our fastest growing channel of consumer engagement, as shoppers increasingly use their smartphones to research gifts, get product reviews, compare prices, check availability of an item at a local store, save money with deals and pay for their purchases," said Greg Ahearn, chief marketing officer, Toys"R"Us, U.S. "As new technologies emerge, we continue to partner with leading providers to enhance our mobile offerings, making it easier than ever for Toys"R"Us customers to navigate our stores and websites to find the must-have gifts for the kids in their lives."

Wish lists go mobile

In addition to ongoing mobile offerings for iPhone and Android, by the end of this month, Toys"R"Us shoppers will have the ability to look up a Wish List via the Toys"R"Us app on their smartphones. A version of the Toys"R"Us Gift Finder, currently accessible on Toysrus.com and the company's iPad app, will also be available for iPhone and Android devices. The Gift Finder asks gift-givers a series of questions about the child they're shopping for, and provides gift suggestions based on age and interests. And, when customers search for a product, they will be able to sort the results by relevance, best-selling items, top-rated items or price.

Shoppers to search inventory via phones

On-the-go shoppers can also use their smartphones to check the availability of a specific product they're looking for at a local Toys"R"Us store through the company's partnership with eBay that makes local inventory searchable on free mobile apps Milo and RedLaser 3.0. Using the RedLaser 3.0 app for iPhone, customers can pay for the item they're looking for within the app, and then pick up their item at a nearby store.

Location-based marketing key this year

Shoppers hitting Toys"R"Us Nov. 24-25 can check-in at their local store via Foursquare to receive the Geoffrey Holiday Badge, while supplies last. After unlocking the badge, those who check-in can redeem a coupon for 15 percent off a purchase of $150 or more, valid Nov. 27-Dec. 3.

In addition, Super Swarm deals will be unlocked when 15 people check in at the same Toys"R"Us location within a three-hour timeframe Nov. 24-25, allowing participants to choose from the following offers: Buy One, Get One 40 percent off no-contract phone cards, $50 off the Imaginarium City Central Train Table or 40 percent off all Incredible Edibles.

Throughout the remainder of the holiday season, shoppers can unlock the Geoffrey Holiday Badge and additional special savings opportunities when checking in at Toys"R"Us on Foursquare.

In about 100 Toys"R"Us stores in the New York, San Francisco, Chicago and Los Angeles areas, customers can receive savings by walking in the door through a partnership with shopkick. Shopkick rewards shoppers just for visiting thousands of partner retailers nationwide, allowing them to earn "kicks" that can be redeemed for Toys"R"Us gift cards, among other things. Shopkick users visiting participating Toys"R"Us stores from Nov. 24-26 can earn 500 kicks, and a coupon for $10 off the purchase of $100 or more that can be used the following week.

Customers responding to QR codes 

Customers have responded enthusiastically to the dynamic, interactive content provided by quick response, or QR codes, that the company has used to supplement print advertising vehicles, product packaging and in-store signage, according to the company press release.

For example, in the approximately two weeks following the launch of The Great Big Toys"R"Us Book, the four product-specific QR codes throughout the catalog for Air Swimmers eXtreme from Animal Planet, My Keepon from Wow! Stuff, Moshi Monsters from Spin Master and The Trash Pack from Moose Toys and the Fast Lane JLX Matrix from Toys"R"Us, were scanned tens of thousands of times. Each item's accompanying QR code lets viewers see demonstrations of the product in action, such as My Keepon bopping to a dance beat or the Air Swimmers eXtreme sneaking up on an unsuspecting parent.

QR codes are also available as part of in-store signage and on individual product packaging to showcase product demos or provide additional information on how a particular program works.

Mobile coupons

Customers can opt-in to the company's "R" Mobile Messaging program to have the week's best deals at Toys"R"Us and Babies"R"Us sent directly to their mobile phones. SMS messages are sent up to twice per week, and highlightsavings offers currently available.

Customers can text "DEALS4" to 78697 for Toys"R"Us deals, "DEALS7" to 72229 for Babies"R"Us offers, and "EEDEALS" to 78697 to receive special notification regarding electronics deals.

The company supports "R" Mobile Messaging with a comprehensive marketing program, inclusive of placement in print circulars and colorful in-store signage complete with the easy-to-follow "text" instructions on how to become a subscriber described above. In addition, all signage promoting the mobile messaging program in "R"Us stores across the country features the "R" Mobile icon: a backwards "ringing" "R."

All Toys"R"Us and Babies"R"Us stores are also equipped with coupon barcode scanners, which allow store associates to scan customers' mobile e-mail coupons from their mobile devices - no coupon clipping required

Shoppers can also pay for their purchases using their mobile devices with Toys"R"Us and Babies"R"Us eGift Cards, which can be sent from a gift-giver to the recipient electronically via e-mail, and the recipient can redeem the gift card in-store via their mobile device. Those who wish to send eGift Cards to loved ones can visit Toysrus.com/GiftCertificates to browse the latest holiday offerings.

Using Google Wallet to buy toys

All of these new tools build on Toys"R"Us' embrace of the first commercially available mobile payment method, Google Wallet. The toy retailer was one of the initial merchants to accept Google Wallet at the point of sale. Customers in about 200 Toys"R"Us and Babies"R"Us stores in major metro areas can use their phone to pay for their purchases using Google Wallet's near-field communication technology to turn their cell phones into wallets, allowing them to pay for purchases, and even redeem coupons, by simply tapping their phones on a special reader installed at the register. Google Wallet is presently available on Sprint Nexus S 4G phones.

For more stories on this topic, visit our Retail research center.

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