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Toys “R” Us taps voice recognition to simplify gift giving

December 20, 2013

Toys “R” Us is yet again making it easier to shop this holiday season, with a redesign of its mobile application and a new ad campaign that leverages voice recognition to recommend gifts.

Mobile ads will ask consumers to answer questions about the child for whom they are shopping, and Toys “R” Us will then recommend a gift and direct them to the mobile-optimized product page. This is part of a bigger mobile push that includes a revamping of the Toys “R” Us app as well.

“We know that this time of the year is extremely hectic for parents and gift-givers, and have enhanced our mobile shopping apps and sites to make shopping with us a more convenient, seamless experience,” said Katie Reczek, spokeswoman for Toys “R” Us, Wayne, NJ.

“Consumer data shows that voice recognition is a service that resonates well with our core demographic – moms — and we’re excited to launch this first-of-its-kind campaign,” she said.

Voice recognition
Toys “R” Us partnered with Mobile Theory for the voice recognition ad campaign to offer assistance in gift selection for the holidays.

The ads will appear on mobile sites such as,, and

They will run on both desktop and mobile sites, but the voice recognition feature is only available on mobile devices. On desktop, consumers will answer questions about the gift recipient via typing instead of speaking.

By adding voice recognition to the mobile ad, Toys “R” Us makes it that much easier for consumers to shop on the go. Consumers can avoid having to type in long answers on a small screen and instead easily speak their answers.

Once consumers answer the questions, Toys “R” Us will provide specific recommendations, and consumers will be directed to purchase the suggested toy on Toys “R” Us’ mobile site. They will also be able to see related products or sort through all Toys “R” items that meet the consumer’s criteria.

These types of voice recognition ads can significantly drive a campaign, according to Ashley Eckel, head of marketing at Zoove, New York.

“At Zoove, we see consumer engagement rates skyrocket when there is a voice on the other end — even if it is automated technology — it offers a form of personalization and human connection that SMS messaging and email cannot provide,” Ms. Eckel said.

“When brand managers lean into the audio component of a mobile campaign we see engagement rise dramatically—whether its higher call volume, purchases, coupon redemptions, opt-ins, etc., and that’s why a smart brand like Toys “R” Us would want to use it,” she said.

“This feature can be especially powerful during the holiday season when advertising noise is at a high and parents are under pressure to get the right gifts to delight their children, to help Toys “R” Us stand out as a trusted retailer that offers a personalized touch to purchase gifts and reduce consumer wait times.”

Ms. Eckel is not affiliated with Toys “R” Us and commented based on her expertise on the subject.

The voice recognition ad

Enhanced app
Toys “R” Us also updated its mobile application and site with a few different features.

The retailer redesigned the user experience from browse to cart and checkout, to make it easier for consumers to shop. The app and site also now include social shopping and product browsing so consumers can see what is trending on

Toys “R” Us also improved the store locator search to make it easier to get key information in fewer taps.

Toys “R” Us has long been a leader in mobile, with both its app and mobile site. A report from the e-tailing group earlier this year named Toys “R” Us as the retailer with the best mobile site user experience (see story).

By continuing to tweak its mobile offering, Toys “R” Us makes sure that it stays at the top.

“On Thanksgiving and Black Friday, Toys “R” Us saw a dramatic surge in mobile traffic — over half of the site’s traffic came from mobile — which we largely attribute to the recent revamp of the Toys “R” Us mobile app, as it’s now easier than ever for consumers to navigate the site and complete their purchases on their smartphones,” Ms. Reczek said.

Final Take
Rebecca Borison is editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York

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Rebecca Borison is editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily and Mobile Marketer. Reach her at

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