Target Taps QR Codes To Lift Toy Sales
Target is banking on QR codes to help boost sales this holiday season through a new initiative that allows consumers to buy select toys by scanning codes with their smartphones.
Starting Oct. 14, the retail chain will feature 20 toys in the main aisle of stores, each will carry a QR code that shoppers can scan to purchase the product and have it shipped free within in the U.S. That step could also enable customers to skip long holiday checkout lines and keep kids from seeing gifts in the shopping cart.
“We are helping guests shop the way they want -- in stores, online and directly from their mobile devices," said Stephanie Lucy, vice president of toys at Target. "Our in-store QR codes for this year's top toys will add real convenience for busy moms.”
Among the top toys with codes will be Hasbro’s Furby, the Just Play Bounce Bounce Tigger, the LeapPad2 from LeapFrog Enterprises and Mattel’s Barbie Photo Fashion Doll.
Target is counting on the QR code program to help differentiate it from big-box competitors like Walmart and Toys R’ Us. Other digital efforts include a new online tool on Target.com for browsing the store’s catalog and creating shareable wish lists. The retailer says it is offering 300 exclusive toys, including Target-owned brands like Circo and PlayWonder.
Target’s toy sales last year were hurt by Walmart’s push behind its layaway program before Thanksgiving, according to a Reuters report. Target doesn’t offer layaway, which lets consumers put items on hold and pay over time.
The QR code program reflects the company’s broader focus on building out its mobile payment options and offers for customers. Target launched a scannable mobile coupon two years ago, and more recently began offering mobile coupons through Apple’s Passbook app, as one of the initial brands featured in the digital wallet.
QR codes have often been criticized as “bright shiny objects” that appeal to marketers but leave consumers mostly confused and frustrated because of technical glitches or content that may include little more than a link to an advertisers’ Web site. But barcode technology provider Scanbuy, which makes the ScanLife reader app, said scans using its technology reached 16 million in the second quarter, up 35% from the first quarter this year.
Separate data from IBM for the same period showed m-commerce more broadly is on the rise. According to its retail benchmark report, mobile commerce accounted for 15% of all online sales in the second quarter, up from 8% a year earlier.