Can AR trigger TRU’s turnaround?
In the wake of its bankruptcy declaration, Toys “R” Us is rolling out a new augmented reality (AR) app that it hopes will help revive the chain.
The app allows customers to play different AR-based games on their handheld devices while standing in a thematically-related section of the store, as seen in a video report by USA Today. Standing in front of basketball hoops, customers can play on-screen basketball. In the doll section, they can play an on-screen nursery game. There is a virtual balloon-shooting game that appears in the Nerf section, a driving game in the remote-controlled car section, an Animal Planet-sponsored online safari near the animal action figures and a virtual fishing pool. Players collect in-app stars which can unlock other games and continue game play outside of the store. There are 13 total stations throughout each store.
TRU is testing the app in 23 locations nationwide before expanding the campaign to all stores on Oct 21.
Since the explosive popularity of Pokémon Go in summer 2016, many in the tech and retail worlds have been taking the promise of AR seriously. And while Pokémon Go proved to be a relatively brief fad, many posit that an AR “killer app” is still on the way. At this year’s Internet Retailer Conference and Exhibition in Chicago, Imran Ansani, principal manager of innovation at Walmart Labs, forecasted that AR would become a ubiquitous part of the retail experience within five years.
But whether an AR app experience (which was in the offing before Toys “R” Us’s bankruptcy announcement according to USA Today) is enough to get customers back into the chain’s stores remains to be seen.
An eleventh-hour emphasis on in-store interactivity in some ways recalls RadioShack’s attempts to revive itself. During the 2014 holiday season, RadioShack began positioning itself as a destination for DIY electronics kits and high-tech toys. But the move didn’t stop RadioShack’s tailspin. As of May, RadioShack had only 70 company-owned locations and 500-dealer owned stores.
- Toys R Us has a plan to save itself and it’s unreal – USA Today
- Pokemon Go showcases potential of augmented reality in retail – RetailWire
- Is Walmart’s innovation leader right that the AR revolution is a sure thing? – RetailWire
- Will a return to its roots keep RadioShack from short circuiting? – RetailWire
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Will focusing on in-store entertainment and the shopper experience using augmented reality help drive more customer traffic to Toys “R” Us’ stores? What else must Toys “R” Us do to fight its way out of bankruptcy?