Toys “R” Us Bets on Augmented Reality to Draw Customers Back into Stores

, Oct 6, 2017

CATEGORIES: Consumer Innovation Group
TAGS: , ,

Did you think Toys “R” Us was on its way out after filing for bankruptcy protection just a few weeks ago? The toy giant wants you to think again.

This week, Toys “R” Us unveiled an exciting new augmented reality app called Play Chaser, which turns its stores into virtual playgrounds. Toys “R” Us mascot Geoffrey the Giraffe will (virtually) welcome customers to the store, explain how to use the app and send kids on their way around the store to explore. Kids can scan Play Chaser signs scattered around stores to unlock the complete AR experience.

Customers will be able to play interactive games, like virtual basketball, earning stars to unlock more games. Different toys or activities come to life on your screen throughout the store: When you scan a sign in the baby doll aisle, for example, you’ll see an animated doll that you can “adopt,” name and play with. Play Chaser is currently testing in select stores, but it will be available around the country later this month.

This announcement certainly comes at an opportune time for Toys “R” Us, helping direct attention away from their recent bankruptcy filing. Just this week, we’ve already seen the narrative start to shift from “a company fighting to stay relevant in era of ecommerce mania” to “a forward-looking organization exploring emerging technology.”

And, Toys “R” Us is betting that this venture will help bring customers back into their brick-and-mortar stores.

“It’s going to transform the experience of coming into a Toys “R” Us bricks and mortar store and turn it into something that’s quite different and a lot more fun,” CEO Dave Brandon told USA TODAY. “We believe that’s going to drive a lot more traffic into our stores which will ultimately put us in a position where we can be more successful at growing our sales and our company.’’

This is part of a growing pattern among retailers, who are realizing that they need to give tech-savvy customers – especially in younger generations – a reason to come into the store in an age where everyone shops online. In that vein, creating an exclusive in-store experience that draws parents and children in will help make the Toys “R” Us store itself a go-to destination again.

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