Now that Toys “R” Us, the one-time leading toy and juvenile product retailer in the world, has finished filing its Chapter 11 Bankruptcy protection, it must now focus on thinking up a marketing coup that would attract usual online shoppers to drop by their real-world branches. It is going to be a tall order indeed, trying to lure new shoppers from the likes of Amazon and other such platforms, but Toys “R” Us is taking a bold tech measure to drum up interest in their stores. This new marketing stratagem will make use of the nascent technology of augmented reality (AR), to turn all of their branches into a virtual experience seen through the “eyes” of one’s smartphone or tablet.

AR Activities

Only two weeks after their Chapter 11 filing, Toys “R” Us will be debuting their new AR store experience in an initial 23 stores this Monday, October 2. Augmented reality, which works by superimposing CGI graphics on a real-world setting by viewing it through a mobile device, was popularized by the killer mobile app “Pokémon Go” by Nintendo and Niantic Labs in 2016. The toy retail giant hopes that the technology, already in development for their stores before the bankruptcy filing, will be the ticket to reinvigorate customer shopping experience.

The typical setup of a Toys “R” Us store with the AR presentation enabled, will have at least 13 activity stations located around the various toy sections.

When a customer enters with their phone or tablet ready, they will be greeted on the screen by a virtual image of company mascot Geoffrey the Giraffe. He will point out the various activities that can be engaged in at the store. When a customer points their mobile devices at a designated real-world sticker, it will generate an activity app on the screen for the kids to enjoy.

AR games can range from caring for a CGI baby or playing virtual free-throw b-ball.

Revolutionizing anew

While Toys “R” Us revolutionized toy sales in the 1950s and 60s, to the point of driving small neighborhood shops out of business, now it is on the receiving end of being trumped by new approaches, with the advent of online shopping.

Losing to competition from Amazon and Walmart has left the company with $5 billion long-term debt, making the Chapter 11 protection filing necessary for their continued operation.

In addition to the new augmented reality activities that can now be had on their selected branches, Toys “R” Us has also revamped their online shopping website by encouraging customers to do more stuff with them other than just shop. The AR experience will become available on all Toys “R” Us branches in the US by October 21.