November 18, 2011, 1:45 PM

Toys ‘R’ Us ramps up its mobile commerce program for the holidays

The retailer has integrated mobile technology from eBay and Google.

Lead Photo

The merchant says mobile commerce is its fastest-growing channel.

Toys ‘R’ Us Inc. has expanded its mobile offerings for the holiday season, updating its iPhone and Android apps and adding technology from eBay Inc., Google Inc., Foursquare and shopkick. The intent is to help customers more quickly locate the product they want, obtain special deals and complete purchases, 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,” says Greg Ahearn, chief marketing officer at 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 web sites to find the must-have gifts for the kids in their lives.”

The merchant, No. 40 in the Internet Retailer Mobile Commerce Top 300, has added a gift finder to its iPhone and Android apps. The gift finder asks a consumer a series of questions about the child she’s shopping for and provides gift suggestions based on age and interests. She then can sort the gift finder results by relevance, best-selling items, top-rated items or price.

The iPhone app also is getting a boost from eBay technology. Toys ‘R’ Us has integrated Milo, a local store inventory feature, and RedLaser 3.0, a shopping and bar code scanning feature. Shoppers on the go can enter the name of a product into the iPhone app’s search box and receive results that say whether the product is available at a nearby store. Through Milo’s integration with Red Laser, the shopper then can pay for the product and have it set aside for pickup.

Customers shopping at a Toys ‘R’ Us store on Nov. 24 and Nov. 25, Thanksgiving Day and the day after, can check in through the mobile social Foursquare app to receive the Geoffrey Holiday Badge. After unlocking the badge, those who check in can redeem a coupon for 15% off a purchase of $150 or more.

In 100 stores in New York, San Francisco, Chicago and Los Angeles, customers can receive savings by walking in the door of a store via the mobile social shopkick app. Shopkick rewards shoppers for visiting thousands of partner retailers nationwide, allowing them to earn “kicks” that in this case can be redeemed for Toys ‘R’ Us gift cards, among other things. Shopkick users visiting participating Toys ‘R’ Us stores from Nov. 24 through Nov. 26 can earn 500 kicks, and a coupon for $10 off the purchase of $100 or more.

And the retailer has joined a small group of pioneering merchants accepting payments made through a smartphone-based mobile wallet via wireless Near Field Communication, or NFC, technology. 200 stores in New York, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., Chicago and San Francisco now are outfitted with NFC point-of-sale terminals that can be used for making payments via the Google Wallet service on Sprint Nexus S 4G phones, one of the only smartphones with an NFC chip inside. A customer waves her Nexus phone near the terminal and the phone wirelessly communicates payment information to the payment terminal to complete a transaction.

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