Event-izing Retail Stores

Forbes always has an interesting article and they haven’t let us down. The magazine features a story by Richard Kestenbaum, in which he discusses the future of retail. Appropriately, the article begins by warning us that people are generally very bad at forecasting the future. Indeed, as Philip Tetlock, the world’s leading expert on forecasting has pointed out, expert judgment is as good as a monkey throwing darts at a board. The results can be very ugly. With that warning, Kestenbaum opens with a discussion with a retailer, Ben Kaufman, founder and chief executive of Camp.

According to Kaufman, stores should be “event-ized”. What Kaufman means is that going to a store should go beyond making a purchase, it should be an adventure, something to do with your friends and family because you know that something wonderful will happen. It’s about turning your store into a place where people can go out and have fun. It goes beyond what you;re selling and traditional ideas about improving the customer journey.

Accordingly, Camp styles itself as a “family experience company”. Stores are designed to engage and inspire families. They combine elements of play, media and merchandise in order to create a rich and fun experience for both children and adults. The stores are divided into areas where products are sold and areas where there are events and activities. When you walk through a Camp store, even the products look different. They have been event-ized. Children can play on their own, climbing, exploring and going on all sorts of adventures. They can have fun with their parents, as they work on various projects. To prevent the stores from getting stale, they are constantly being refreshed, rethemed, you could say, re-event-ized. Prior to the pandemic, this happened about every quarter. 

Camp stores earn revenues not only from products, but also from sponsorship deals relating to its many events and activities. These events and activities allow brands such as Ally Bank, Kroger and Scotts to promote their brands in a place where the associations are likely to be very positive. It’s really a win-win. Camp has found a way to create a place with fun things to do with kids and integrate it with retail. It’s truly revolutionary. 

By having a quarterly turnover in terms of store theme, Camp remains fresh and gives children and parents a reason to keep coming. It also allows the store to draw in new customers who may not have been as excited by prior themes. Not only are children and adults able to enjoy the stores in-person, they can also do so virtually. For instance, for Christmas, Camp launched a Secret Santa online game, involving gift giving and video games played online by more than 20,000 people! Camp has just launched a Present Shop that is likely to draw as many people. The Present Shop allows children to shop for gifts on their own using digital coins bought for them by their parents. The children are given a code and they use that as well as answer various child-friendly questions in order to access their account and make their purchases. The Present Store is built to be used by children without the aid of any adults. So far, 57% of their customers bring their children at least once a month and 16% come at least once a week. 

Event-izing retail stores could be the future of retail.