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Strategy, Creativity, In-store Experience, Shopper Moments, Display

A Toy Story: In Retail, New Tech Toys Craft an AR Narrative

POSTED BY: Katy Marshall on 08/13/19 tech toys

Tech toys. For good and for bad, generations of kids are growing up more plugged in than ever. In fact, 84% of children aged 3-7 and 96% between ages 8-12 have access to their own internet-connected devices. In tandem with more tots going mobile, toy retailers have seen profits take a downturn—the Toys R Us 2018 bankruptcy announcement is perhaps most symptomatic of the disruption to traditional toysellers.

A generational declining interest in touch-and-feel toys doesn’t mean the childlike joy of playing with toys is gone entirely. More and more, brands and retailers are integrating tech into toys as well as in the shopping experience, adding surprise and delight to satisfy the child in everyone. Today, Medallion Retail unboxes how toy retailers can level up the in-store experience with Augmented Reality that sparks wonder and creates memorable In-store Shopper Moments®.

The state of the (tech toys) union

With an overwhelming majority of kids possessing their own all-in-one devices—equipped with all of the apps, games, and educational tools they’d ever need—it would seem that the market for traditional, physical playthings is all but gone.

But here’s the rub: toy shoppers haven’t gone anywhere. In most cases, they’ve just grown up with technology—and are increasingly turning to e-commerce to get their fix. Lego®, Mattel®, Hasbro®, and Nintendo® still dominate the toy empire, with much of their online sales coming from e-tail giant Amazon.

Unboxing a new toy is a child’s greatest joy, but the e-commerce experience alone—ordering and waiting for delivery — leaves something to be desired.  Ultimately, kids still want their toy store experience, and so do parents—with all the wonder, magic, and inspiration it brings.

In order to provide a whimsical experience, retailers need to employ creativity and provide experiential elements that make shopping feel like play. Click To Tweet

Once curious, always curious (to shop)

Shopping for toys in a brick-and-mortar setting feeds a child’s curiosity. The ability to touch, hear, squish, bounce and hug is priceless. For brands and retailers today, delivering a tactile, sensory-filled experience is paramount.

How are brands manifesting this on the shelves?

Iconic childhood staple LEGO introduced building blocks with a twist: augmented reality (AR), that is. This year, the brand unveiled a Hidden Side collection of sets accompanied by an AR app that brings the toys to life upon building. In store and at home, families are able to explore an app-only spooky storyline, and dive layers deeper into the fantasy the toys provide.

Target took a game-first approach to draw shoppers in stores. The retailer partnered with Pokemon Pass to let players of the augmented reality game earn rewards that can be used in stores. The handy app also alerts shoppers when they’re near a Target® location, incentivizing them to step into toy aisles—and adding a fun challenge on the way.

And even though Toys ‘R’ Us stores were liquidated, the former toy retail leader is resurfacing its physical retail arm in a new way. The retailer has teamed up with software-powered retail company b8ta—known for out-of-the-box ideas — to announce two smaller format stores packed with interactive technology and opportunities for experiential play.

All of these powerful examples illustrate the next wave of toy and game retail that is entertaining customers young and old. Digitally-enhanced in-store Shopper Moments® throughout brick and mortar environments, and even in the toys themselves? That’s the true meaning of play.

It’s (play) time for retail

 If tech is already enhancing products and apps, shouldn’t it be a component of your shelves and signage, too? Let’s face it, shoppers of all ages can connect with their inner child when presented with the opportunity for fun and amazement.

These are Medallion Retail’s top three reasons to consider AR in store:

  • AR helps draw in shoppers. AR-activated signage and displays pique consumer interest based on principle alone—it’s a wonder more retailers aren’t using it yet. And once consumers walk through your doors, they’ll be endlessly captivated by the possibilities.
  • AR drives engagement and interest in your store. AR components encourage consumers to “play” with the retail displays and experience a deeper, more memorable connection.
  • AR can help convert to sales.Consumers are more likely to resonate with something that delights them. Especially when the product you’re selling is rooted in experience, tech can amp up the in-store visit.

What if more traditional toy brands utilized AR to reposition themselves in the tech market?  Medallion Retail can make your signage captivate and your displays resonate with our combination of modern technology and a legacy of success. Let’s have a ball and amplify your in-store whimsy. Reach out to Michael or Chris at engage@medallionretail.com to learn more.

Have you seen toys and technology interacting in an exciting way in-store?  Let us know below!

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