American Girl Store of the Future

American Girl is considered a pioneer of experiential retail thanks to making shopping, playing, styling hair, cooking, and eating commonplace in a trip to the American Girl Doll store. We have partnered with globally renowned Brand Experience Firm FRCH and worked together to launch American Girl’s “Store of the Future”. MJD was charged to plan and execute the digital omni-channel guest experience for the new, 40,000 square foot, Flagship store in New York City.

Though the brand has long been prescient about making shopping experiential, it is even more important in 2018. “As we look at girls today and millennial moms, they’re seeking brands that deliver positive, meaningful experiences, not just products,” says Wade Opland, American Girl’s Senior Vice President of Global Retail. As he puts it, they’re asking themselves, “How does it tie back to me?”

All the possibilities

Elevating all the possible connections between guests, brand promise, and digital experiences both in and out of the store is MJD’s expertise. With American Girl, we built on the fact that American Girl is a sought-after planned destination for their guests, and we focused our ideas around these goals:

  • Increase excitement, access, and reservations of the numerous digital experiences built into the physical store
  • Translate the magic of in-store commerce experiences to web applications
  • Create personalized and inspiring moments for guests
  • Create a memorable visit to encourage sharing and repeat visits

We explored the modern customer experience journey through a number of concepts and digital prototypes. Working with store representatives, FRCH, American Girl teams, and guest feedback we landed on these highly viable and desirable experiences:

  • ‘Create Your Own’ Custom Doll Creation Commerce Experience
  • Salon Services Digital Lookbook
  • Personalized Party Room System
  • Digital Media Content Hub
  • Salon and Cafe Reservation System

'Create Your Own' Custom Doll Creation Commerce Experience

In-store, Online and Mobile Custom Doll Creation Commerce Experience

American Girl set out to empower young girls by creating custom dolls and clothing that showcase and celebrate individuality. MJD partnered with them in bringing to life a playful doll creation commerce platform that inspires and delivers over 1.3 million doll options to capture girls’ imaginations. The in-store digital experience is essentially a “makers” area called “Create Your Own” that includes a dozen digital touch screens integrated with real product options to feel and choose from while you design your own dolls and clothing.

In a collective workshop atmosphere, girls can design the American Girl doll of their dreams from more than one million possible design combinations—an unprecedented level of choice. Girls can also create one-of-a-kind doll outfits and girl-sized products at the design studio in-store, which can be printed and ready to take home the same day.

The Mission: Create a uniquely modern commerce experience that increases the already impressive diversity of American Girl dolls and garments by giving girls a fun, easy-to-use tool to completely customize them in-store and online.

Challenges  

  • How do you represent the doll or garment before customization starts?
  • What user interface resonates best with young girls?
  • How do we launch a digital product that works on desktop, mobile phones, and in-store?

Solution

Through user testing design prototypes with girls and their moms, we learned a blank slate didn’t encourage the creative process. They were inspired instead by seeing multiple, completed dolls and garments as inspirational starting points. We built the user interface as a carousel of dolls and garments, showing girls the wide selection at their fingertips. Today’s girls have had screens in their hands their whole lives. We created an interface that their digital sophistication deserves. The animated menu system allows flexible exploration of all the choices while decluttering unnecessary information during the selection process. We also gave girls the opportunity to add their own personality to their custom design, including giving their doll a name, a pet, and adding their favorite places and things. The interface, personality, and the ability to begin digital/physical storytelling around the custom dolls all create a unique commerce experience.

Visit American Girl Create Your Own

Salon Digital Lookbook

Enhancing the Salon Experience

American Girl is known for its doll salons, kids and parents used to wait in line to make sure they get a reservation and choose a style or service for their doll from a printed menu. With the new SOTF offerings, kids can actually join in on the fun with services made just for them. We knew this would cause even more demand and traffic for the salon space.

The Mission: Improve the way guests experience the salon space in-store and access the salon offerings.

Solution

We evolved the physical menu of doll services to a fully accessible online lookbook, highlighting girl and doll services in a 360º interaction. This allows kids and parents to explore the options of the salon before they get to the store, cutting down that time in line and giving them more time for fun and shopping.

Visit American Girl Salon Look Book

Custom Themed Party Rooms

A Personal Touch to American Girl Parties

A cornerstone of the American Girl store experience is the party room – a reservable space for kids, dolls, and parents to celebrate with the aesthetic of the American Girl brand and menu from the cafe. With the American Girl Store of the Future it was time to put the guest of honor at the center of that experience.

The Mission: Provide a more personalized party room experience.

Solution

We created a system for guests to customize their party vibe the way they like it, giving them a different party experience each time they or their friends decide to celebrate at American Girl. When making a reservation, the guest chooses the name(s), graphic themes and message to be displayed at their event. The day of the party,  an American Girl store associate has the ability to set up the party room graphics based on the guest’s preferences from an online app wherever they are in the store. The messages and graphics are displayed through short throw projectors adding a custom theme to the party room space.

In-Store Technology

Store Technology Solutions

  • Hardware evaluation for touch screen monitors and the personalized projection experience
  • Omni-channel integration of the web-based Create Your Own and Salon Lookbook into the store experience
  • On-demand printing of custom clothing in-store via Create Your Own touch screens
  • Kiosk software for remote management of touchscreens and updates
  • Reservation system evaluation and strategy

Working inside the physical walls of the store allowed us to work on planning the physical/digital mix in the space design, integrating with in-store systems, creating remote management systems for kiosk hardware and software, and the ability to print custom clothing in real time at the store.

MJD prototyped several touchscreen hardware displays in our technology lab for ease of use, touch screen response, aesthetic look and feel, remote monitoring and overall hardware warranties. The final selection was a 24″ all-in-one touchscreen PC display from Elo that provided the most responsive touch and processing power to handle the React.JS web application. ‘Create Your Own’ touch-screen kiosks have now been expanded to American Girl’s Chicago and Los Angeles flagship stores.

Also included in the Party Room areas are short throw projectors that create immersive, themed, personalized messaging and animated graphics on the walls of the room. This was a unique challenge for the MJD tech team to find a solution that worked best, testing various large format monitors, ultimately deciding on short throw projectors that would create the most visual bang for your buck.

Results

MJD worked seamlessly with FRCH and American Girl to create a magical, modern store experience. We integrated digital experiences where they elevated the brand promise overall, adding delight and convenience while highlighting the Girl at the center of customer experience.

See for yourself! The store is beautiful and captures the hearts of all visitors as soon as you walk through the doors.