ToysRUs Turns Friends Pick Up Into A CRM Goldmine

When ToysRUs on September 8 added a "Family And Friends Pick Up" feature to its buy-online-pick-up-in-store service, it at first seemed like a nice little enhancement. But behind this seemingly cost-free convenience are layers-upon-layers of rich and highly actionable CRM data and other goodies.

The idea is straight-forward enough. If a ToysRUs customer can't easily get to the local store, he/she asks a friend/relative to pick up the item as a favor. The initial customer simply is asked to give the picker-upper's first/last name, E-mail, phone number, address and the relation to purchaser. The picker-upper gets a direct E-mail message indicating the item is ready for pickup.

Before going any further, ToysRUs is now picking up a bunch of verified E-mail addresses of people who are near its stores, along with other bits of wonderful data. Not only is the E-mail address verified (they had to receive the confirmation notice), but so is the name and address, courtesy of the driver's license or other ID they had to show when picking up the merchandise.

The most valuable piece of data, though, is that "relation to purchaser" field. Not only does the chain now have two—or more—valid customer files, but it has a connection between the two. A relative is a more permanent connection (usually) than a friend, but it's still a good connection. E-mail alerts for the birthdays of the first customer perhaps?

Is the picker-upper an existing customer? If so, lots of marketing value in connecting the two accounts as friends or sisters or whatnot. Is the picker-upper not an existing customer? Break out the champagne. You're creating a pleasant interaction in-store for that new person and you have a good shot at converting them right there.