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Toys R Us translates inspiration into sales via mobile visual search

Toys “R” Us will leverage 3D image recognition technology to provide a quick and easy product search option for consumers as it continues its efforts to streamline the shopping experience, especially for younger, tech-savvy customers on mobile.

The big toy retailer has teamed up with mobile visual search firm Slyce to let shoppers snap a photo of an item they like and have a mobile application find a similar item sold by the retailer. The feature highlights the way retailers can tap mobile to translate a consumer’s inspiration into a sale, eliminating delays that can prevent a purchase from being completed.

“The Toys ‘R’ Us incorporation of Slyce into its search module is a strategic step to improve its user experience,” said Shuli Lowy, mobile marketing director for Ping Mobile. “Toys ‘R’ Us is amongst the brands that recognizes that you cannot fight the consumer shift to digital commerce.

“Instead you need to leverage it through ensuring you’re present wherever consumers choose to purchase their items,” she said. “It is with that in mind that Toys ‘R’ Us has built its own app as well as partnered with Google Shopping to expand its reach.”

Toys “R” Us, based in Wayne, NJ, did not respond to media inquiries.

Snapping images
In a release, Slyce said only that it had set a contract with the retailer to provide mobile visual search technology but provided no details regarding start of service or how the consumer would be able to access it.

Neiman Marcus’ 3D imagery.

Slyce, whose clients have included Neiman Marcus, Target and Best Buy, makes technology that lets users snap images of products they see on the street or in ads, and instantly purchase close-matching items from leading retailers through their mobile devices.

Users can accurately match a 3D product image with products in any available catalog, along with 2D images, QR codes and barcodes for a complete visual search solution.

In a typical Toys “R” use case, a mother who noticed that a friend had a new toy that her child would love could take a photo to purchase the item immediately rather than block out a substantial amount of time to actually go to the store or work through a complicated online search process.

The use of mobile apps in shopping is on the rise. A recent study indicates that 67 percent of consumers turn to their mobile devices to enhance their retail experience.

For Toys “R” Us, the adoption of 3D technology supports its effort to streamline the shopping experience, including those shopping from mobile devices.

In November, Toys “R” Us addressed consumers’ pain points around holiday shopping, with mobile playing a key role streamlining both the in-store and online experiences.

The chain’s “Black Friday Made Easy” initiative consisted of a range of new services, including digital store-specific maps that could be accessed by scanning a QR code found near the store entrance.

The location-specific digital maps helped smartphone-armed shoppers easily find a specific toy or deal.

Also new last year was a mobile-optimized Gift Finder, enabling shoppers to search for products by a child’s age and interests as well as current promotions.

Load time
“This effort demonstrates a step from Toys ‘R’ Us to improve its mobile UX,” Ms. Lowy said. “Its app currently has a pitiable 1.5 star ranking in the Apple app store—with consumers complaining about the load time, poor design, and glitches that make them have to re-enter information several times.

Slyce technology.

“Retailers need to understand that consumers will leave if they are not getting a good experience,” she said. “A good experience doesn’t just mean good customer service. It means that the digital experience is smooth and seamless.

“Hopefully this partnership with Slyce signifies that Toys ‘R’ Us is starting to take its mobile UX more seriously and working to provide consumers the effortless digital experience they deserve,” she said.

Final Take
Michael Barris is staff reporter on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York