Toys”R”Us Launches Mobile Coupons

Toys”R”Us is playing in the mobile space.

The retailer, never known as a big innovator in digital, this holiday season is equipping its retail outlets with scanners that can read coupon bar codes on mobile phones and is launching a text messaging program alerting shoppers to deals.

Customers can get the coupons by joining the Toys”R”Us and Babies”R”Us mailing lists. When the mobile version of an e-mail is displayed on a smartphone, the retailer can scan it in a store.

The effort builds on last year’s introduction of eGift cards. Last year, Toys”R”Us customers had to print out those cards to redeem them, but now, they can get them scanned from their phones as well.

Starbucks began testing a similar program in late 2009 and Target launched one back in February. “It’s a really powerful program and right in the sweet spot,” said Michael Becker, managing director of the Mobile Marketing Association. Becker said 20-30 percent of U.S. consumers have a smartphone.