Can AR tech revive ailing Toys R Us?

Toys R Us is harnessing the power of augmented reality to help bring the ailing retailer from the brink of bankruptcy, it has been revealed.

In the midst of its ongoing financial struggles, CEO Dave Brandon has detailed the retailer’s plan to beef up its online offering and revamp its stores with a focus on interactive areas and AR technology.

Toys R Us plans on developing AR experiences that will be interactive within stores through a corresponding app.

“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,” 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.”

The app will allow shoppers to animate Toys R Us’ Geoffrey the Giraffe mascot as they navigate the store and shoot virtual baskets, take care of a virtual baby or scan a code to watch a toy animate on their phone screen. The app will also challenge users to collect stars to unlock more experiences.

The AR experience is now live in 23 stores in the US and will expand nationwide in October.

The company is also planning to add playroom areas to 42 stores later in the year, offering a place for kids to play with toys and gadgets – with the help of a demonstrator – before purchase.

Much of the reason behind Toys R Us’ decision to file for bankruptcy last month was the $5bn debt it owes as a result of leveraged buyout in 2005, the chain’s problems run deeper.

According to a note written to investors by KeyBanc, the retailer has ‘fundamental, structural challenges’, predating the 2005 leveraged buyout. 

About Robert Hutchins

Robert Hutchins is the editor of ToyNews and its sister title, He has worked his way from Staff Writer to Editor across the two titles, having spent almost eight years with both and what now seems like a lifetime surrounded by toys. You can contact him by emailing or calling him on 0203 143 8780 You can even follow him on Twitter @RobGHutchins if ranting is your thing...

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