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Toys R Us taps QR codes for easy navigation to Thanksgiving deals

The chain’s “Black Friday Made Easy” initiative consists of a range of new services, including digital store-specific maps that can be accessed by scanning a QR code found near the store entrance.  The location-specific digital maps will help smartphone-armed shoppers easily find a specific toy or deal.

“One of the things, as we went into creating and designing these Black Friday initiatives, was to focus on what our customers have been asking for,” said Adrienne O’Hara, a spokeswoman for Toys “R” Us.  “What are some of the things they have found as pain points that we can help and make it a really easy shopping experience for them, especially during Thanksgiving weekend, which is the kick off of holiday shopping.

“When they go to the front of the store immediately upon entering, they will find a store map,” she said. “On a more granular level, if they are looking for a very specific item or deal, they can scan the QR code that is on that physical store map and they can key in a certain toy, a specific deal and be navigated to the exact aisle to help them find that product or deal. “

Consumer research
The retailer’s new Black Friday services are based on consumer research it conducted throughout the year to find out what customers want.

The new services will be introduced beginning Thanksgiving Weekend and continuing through Christmas Eve.

A key focus of the initiatives is to help in-store shoppers find what they are looking for as quickly and easily as possible.

Smartphones, with their built-in location capabilities, not surprising play an important role.

The new digital store maps will be specific to each store. Physical versions of the maps will be located near the front entrance of each store and will feature a QR code so shoppers can access a mobile-optimized version of the map. From the mobile map, shoppers can search for products by name and pinpoint their in-aisle location.

Live chat
From Monday, Nov. 24 until Monday, Dec. 1, shoppers will also be able to use the digital store navigation to find specific Thanksgiving weekend deals, discounts and door busters.

“The really interesting thing about the store map is that, it will depend on your location,” Ms. O’Hara said. “If you are on one side of town in a particular Toys ‘R’ US, it will be very explicit about that store format, which is very helpful.”

The map will be updated as new merchandise comes into the store.

Toys “R” Us is focused on streamlining the shopping experience for online shoppers, including those shopping from mobile devices.

Desktop and tablet shoppers will be able to access live chat capabilities as they browse Shoppers can ask questions and receive guidance from the chain’s toy experts in real time.

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

The chain has also introduced free online layaway, enabling shoppers to create layaway orders at and, make payments in-store or online, and choose to pick up their order in a local store or have it delivered to their home.

Customers also have the option to buy online and pick up in store.

Other new services that are not mobile focused include store navigator specialists identifiable by their red shirts bearing “G.P.S.” for Guru for Play Stuff. The G.P.S. insignia plays off the GPS technology found in smartphones that can be used for directions to a specific location.

The strategy also includes new aisle signage and a dedicated Express Lane at checkout. Store associates will also be able to scan items in a shopper’s cart and provide shoppers with a bar code card for a single-swipe checkout.

“Toys ‘R’ Us spent a great deal of time trying to figure out, building into the holiday season, what are the many different ways that we can make improvements so that we are enhancing the customer experience, whether it is online, mobile, in store, anywhere a customer wants to shop and however they want to shop,” Ms. O’Hara said.

“The Gift Finder was created to allow customers to easily pare down and refine their search online, based on how they shop,” she said.

“That is a great opportunity for shoppers online who want to focus on selecting a great gift and having that curated advice but not necessarily going through the broad assortment of products by themselves.”

Final Take
Chantal Tode is senior editor on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York