77kids – a retail experience

(This is the first in a mini-series of posts reviewing retail concepts that have caught my eye.  Check in tomorrow and the following day for two more of my takes on what makes a store more than a store – a real experience.)

American Eagle’s flagship store in Times Square is breathtaking, but it’s what’s below it that got my attention.  In the basement of this high profile real estate lies 77kids N.Y.C. Style Lab, a remarkable retail experience from the company’s new 77Kids brand.

The 77kids brand features apparel and accessories targeted at kids sizes 0-14 and is sold online and in two dozen locations primarily in the East and Midwest.  When the Times Square location opened this summer, it was billed as a “one-of-a-kind experience that epitomizes the 77kids mantra, ‘Long Live Fun.’  During my recent visit, the store did not disappoint.

The styles were fresh and fun, as were the employees.  I was pleased to see merchandise exclusive to NYC:

as well as fun signage:

But what stood out the most about the store was its interactivity.  This was not a venue in which you wandered through the standard aisles, viewed featured items on the standard mannequins, or browsed selections on the standard shelves.   At every turn, there were buttons to push, screens to touch, games to play.

Check out this video of their denim display. And this one of an interactive outfit selector (sorry for the horizontal view):

Interactivity is key to any retail experience but particularly to the age group of 77kids target.  The kids in the store were clearly having a blast, and their parents seemed pleased to find some age-appropriate entertainment.

Through interactivity, customers are indeed shopping – but they’re also experiencing the brand.  The “fun” of the brand, therefore, becomes not only a style of clothing but a way of shopping. The interactivity makes the brand more unique, engaging, and memorable than any article of clothing could.

Jim O’Donnell, CEO, American Eagle Outfitters, is quoted describing the store as, “This is not retail-as-usual. From the clothing to the creative and entertaining activities, 77kids at Times Square is changing what it means to go shopping.

Indeed, it’s succeeded.

(If you’re looking for an injection of fresh thinking, sign your team up for a Brand Experience Day.  We’ll head out into the field to experience concepts like this one, and then regroup to identify and apply the new insights to your business.  Learn more.)


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