Mobile User Experience Hell & Toys"R"Us

Giraffes talking about Toys R Us

My daughter just turned 3. And aside from wondering where the devil the last few years of my life went, I’ve been thinking a lot about how to make Christmas special for a girl whose birthday is in December.


This is Charlotte. I don’t have a prayer of saying “No” to her.


Charlie loves technology. My iPad 2 was instantly hers the moment I brought it home a year ago. With it she made music, drew pictures, played games and watched educational shows on Netflix.

But she dropped it one too many times and now I need to replace the glass. (Curse you, Apple Care.*)

Long story short, I’m in the market for a “kid friendly tablet” for Christmas.

The brilliant Toys”R”Us email campaign

I’d done very little research on the kid tablet when I got an email from toy giant Toys”R”Us. I graduated to their house list from Babies“R”Us, presumably, after buying infant supplies a few years ago. (Clearly, somebody knows what they’re doing over there.)

This beautiful thing awaited me:


Not being facetious, by the way. This is amazing.

Dream Lites. (Chuck loves Pillow Pets.) And a LeapPad2 Crayola Bundle?! Holy sh*t, it’s like you’re speaking my daughter’s language.

Let’s do this. Where do I sign up to feed my money into your gaping maw of toy madness?

This is a campaign, no doubt, that’s built on my past purchase behavior. It’s beautifully laid out and click-worthy in every way. I need to find out more about this Exclusive LeapPad2 Crayola Bundle.

Seriously, Toys”R”Us, I don’t care how much money your email campaigns have generated, please give these people a raise. Yesterday.

I clicked the ever-loving giraffe mascot out of that product link.

The Toys”R”Us mobile user experience horror story

This was the landing page from my click:


Uh, okay. Maybe I just need to find a store for their pricing engine to do its thing and spit me out at a product page with the right information. I gave them the benefit of the doubt, entered “Seattle” into the search box and hit submit.

It took me to a list of stores. I clicked the Bellevue store (6 miles away from me, the closest one):

Toys R Us Mobile Screenshot

Here’s where I started to realize I’d never reach the product I clicked on in the email.

I’m sure they get a lot of foot traffic from this exercise, but I live downtown. I don’t own a car. I do most of my shopping in little shops within walking distance or on Amazon. My intent was never to venture out of the city to a Toys”R”Us store. I want to get this thing dropped on my doorstep.

Just to humor them, though, I clicked on “Weekly Ad” to see if maybe it’d coincide with the email campaign I received.

Instead, I get prompted to enter my zip code (Are you f*cking with me right now, guys?):

Toys R Us Mobile Screenshot

After entering my zip code, alas, no LeapPad2:

Toys R Us Mobile Screenshot

Do mobile user experience right the first time, Toys”R”Us

Here’s the most depressing part about all of this.

A perfectly amazing mobile LeapPad2 page exists on their site.

Toys R Us Mobile Screenshot


Toys R Us Mobile Screenshot

It’s gorgeous. It’s got beautiful product shots, plenty of product information, their shipping information. Hell, I can even read reviews on it:

Toys R Us Mobile Screenshot


I’m sold now. But had I not been a marketer, morbidly curious as to why my experience was so bad, Toys”R”Us would’ve lost me right at the Store Locator.

I did a quick mobile Google search for LeapPad2. Target’s PPC ad showed up – above Toys”R”Us, I might add:


Google Mobile Screenshot
Google Mobile Screenshot

Target’s usually awful at PPC, by the way. Which makes this comparison even more frightening.

One click and I was to the product (cheaper than Toys”R”Us too):

Target Mobile Screenshot

Target Mobile Screenshot

10 mobile user experience tips

What’s the moral here? Don’t take your web users for granted. Don’t marginalize your mobile web users. The mobile segment is multiplying by the day.

Soon – and very soon – the amount of mobile web traffic will surpass that of desktop web traffic. It’s already happening in India, for instance:

mobile web traffic india

Here are 10 tips to prepare for this mobile domination inevitability:

  1. Never assume that mobile users are looking for your stores, even if your brick & mortar business is huge. Assume they aren’t, because they’re probably not these days.
  2. Simplify your navigation. If I have to resort to using your mobile site search, your navigation is probably too confusing.
  3. Show bigger product images, even if it pushes product information down the page. Touch scrolling is easier than desktop scrolling. I’d rather do more of that than squint to see your product image.
  4. Don’t ask for any input from a user until they’re ready to check out. After I’ve been to 6 pages on your mobile site, the last thing I want to do is enter my zip code.
  5. Make it a one-page cart. Shipping options, address entry and billing details should all be accessible without having to load another page on my slow 3G connection.
  6. Apply discounts/coupon codes automatically with a touch for mobile users. Stopping to enter anything is clumsy when I’m in the mood to buy.
  7. Bid aggressively on Mobile PPC. There are usually only 1-2 ad slots above the organic listings in mobile search. To get there, you’ll either need the best quality scores known to man, or a really sizable Max CPC bid.
  8. Point all your mobile ads precisely to the product you’re advertising. Mobile browsers have gotten worlds better than they once were, but looking at 5 different pages to get what I want is still cumbersome.
  9. Connecting with you socially on a mobile site should be stupid-easy. If I don’t purchase now, it’s probably because I’m checking my latest Facebook or Twitter push notification. I should be able to Like or Follow you with 1 touch.
  10. Measure everything. At a bare minimum, you should have Google Analytics installed on your mobile site to see where folks are going and what their biggest pain points are.

Do even half these things well, and you won’t piss off folks like me who should be slam-dunk customers:


*For those wondering, I didn’t get Apple Care. Sad times.

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