Toy retailer Toys R Us has just released a new mobile website, as well as apps for both Blackberry and iPhones.

The new app is targeted for the US market at the moment, though UK users can download it from the App Store. I’ve been trying the Toys R Us Big Book app out…

As a large retailer with a multichannel presence, it makes perfect sense for Toys R Us, as well as similar retailers, to introduce an iPhone app or mobile site.

This can be an effective way to drive customers in store, and grab some extra sales from customers accessing the site on the move. However, Toys R Us hasn’t added any mobile commerce options to this app, which seems like a missed opportunity.

Other than that, the app is generally well designed and laid out, though not without its faults. The first page provides information on the latest deals from the retailer:

Toys R Us app

You can also navigate through the store’s product range by category. Here the coloured navigation options make product searches easier, and there seems to be a full range of products on the app:

Some more filtering options would be helpful for crowded product categories though, such as Disney DVDs. There are quite a lot of those with no way to narrow the search down:

The individual product pages on the app could be improved though. The area under the average review score is scrollable, which may not be immediately apparent to users, since the app offers no visual clue.

Also, the text is relatively small, and for products like laptops, a lot of technical information on battery life, weight, screen size and more is displayed in paragraphs, and is not easy to scan for the detail. Making the whole page scrollable, and breaking up the text would make it easier to digest. 

Since you can’t buy from the store, or check stock and reserve items locally, all you can do is add items to a wishlist, which can then be emailed.

The find a local store feature would be useful, but for me, as well as a reviewer in the App Store, the app crashes when you try to access the store finder, the part of the app that would have been useful for UK users. 

Having an app that allows users to browse the product range is better than no app at all, but I think that Toys R Us has failed to maximise the potential of the app by not adding the option to purchase items. 

Also, having a collect in store option would have been a useful way to drive incremental sales, but this is another opportunity that has been missed here.

Toys R Us should learn from the excellent Barnes and Noble iPhone app, which has shopping options, including a checkout process optimised for mobiles, as well as a reserve and collect in store link from its product pages. A large multichannel retailer like Toys R Us should be able to make more of mobile apps than this.