October 27, 2008, 12:00 AM

Toys ‘R’ Us adds registry, store inventory and recommendations to web site

The retailer has redesigned its web site and improved the e-commerce site of its Babies ‘R’ Us brand. New features include a gift-finding tool, online wish lists and information on inventory in its stores.

Multi-channel toy retailer Toys ‘R’ Us may market products associated with fun and games but it’s serious about e-commerce.

The retailer, No. 43 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide has redesigned its web site and improved the e-commerce site of its Babies ‘R’ Us brand. New features include a gift-finding tool, online wish lists and information on inventory in its stores so that consumers can be sure trips to nearby bricks-and-mortar stores are worthwhile.

"We know our customers look to us for our expertise in the toy and baby product categories, and an increasing number of people are using our online store not only to make purchases but to conduct research on products and services available in our stores," says Michael Scharff, vice president, general manager, e-commerce, for Toys ‘R’ Us. "By simplifying and enhancing the look of our e-commerce site and adding helpful tools, it`s easier than ever for online customers to select and purchase the perfect gifts for their loved ones, quickly locate in-store availability of a desired product, and determine what items they need to prepare for the arrival of a new baby. These advancements provide a seamless online and in-store shopping experience for all of our customers."

The new gift finder on Toysrus.com allows shoppers to filter gift options by answering a series of questions about the age, interests and personality of a toy recipient. Shoppers can classify a child as glamorous, outdoorsy, studious or sporty, techy, creative or adventurous. Consumers buying for a newborn whose personality has yet to shine through can select a gift that will help the infant build co-ordination and motor skills, boost creativity or offer a nurturing effect.

Toys ‘R’ Us says it will continue to tweak the gift finder over the next month to offer even more customized suggestions.

The retailer also has added an online wish list. Kids can e-mail lists to friends and family members and tailor them for specific occasions. Gift-givers also can access and print childrens’ wish lists while shopping in stores.

For a consumer who has waited until the last minute to do her shopping, the new "Want It Today?" feature enables her to check in-store availability of toys and products by entering her ZIP code. The program checks inventory of products at the five stores closest to the customer. For now, the feature is only available on select items in certain markets but will be expanded over time, Toys ‘R’ Us says.

On top of new features, the toy merchant also has beefed up existing ones. A new top navigation bar allows consumers to search for products by age, character or theme, or a specific brand. Drop-down menus under each category allow shoppers to further refine their searches. For example, shoppers in the character theme hub can search by popular brands such as Hannah Montana or Spiderman.

The e-retailer also operates Babiesrus.com, and has made changes to that web site as well. Moms and dads looking for help with decorating a newborn’s room can scroll a mouse over items they like in catalog photos of decorated nurseries and access product information. Before, consumers were required to search for each product separately on the e-commerce site. Buying guides also help first-time parents with purchase decisions, such as what to look for when shopping for a car seat. The baby registry also has been updated with a new Quick Start option, which provides a list of basics to help parents get started, “must haves,” lists of best sellers and a Check List tracker that reminds parents about products they may have forgotten.

Additionally, the social community, Mom`s Favorites, which allows mothers to share tips about parenting and talk about their favorite products, is now accessiable from the Babies ‘R’ Us home page, making it easier to find. Babies ‘R’ Us also is offering printed personalized announcements, invitations and cards through a new e-Invite product line.

The 2007 combined web sales of Toys ‘R’ Us and Babies ‘R’ Us are estimated to be $407 million.

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