Armed With Story: Is Your Merchandising Telling a Narrative?

Imagine a world without story: a place with no true way to pass knowledge from one generation to the next. A place without creativity and imagination.

Throughout history, storytelling has taken form in everything from rock drawings to fairy tales to musicals, and the list goes on. Today we continue to see it in digital varieties like Snapchat stories, Medium blogs and Instagram posts. The importance of story isn’t going away, and at a time when people are loyal to businesses that align with their personal values and experiences, it’s important your redemption program tells a story, too!

Without a visual and intentional story in your redemption room or counter, guests struggle to make a connection with your product and easily make decisions. They have a hard time selecting which prize to claim as their own because there is little emotional value. An absent or confusing story limits your ability to create a meaningful experience, thus generating a lackluster desire to return to your business. Then there’s that whole thing on how the absence of story can negatively impact your bottom line, too!

Today, we’re digging deep into our Armed & Ready Storyboard (sectioned merchandising layout) to show you how your redemption program can easily tell a story with product. Let’s use the five elements of a story to demonstrate:


It’s important you establish “characters” that would like your merchandise. Our Armed & Ready storyboard is compiled of high- and low-ticket items, to serve a variety of “characters.” We also always recommend a good mix of generic and brand name Armed & Ready product. As a top-selling category, having options for all player types encourages all your guests to walk away with something. Here are our characters for Armed & Ready:

  • The Impulse Character: Jane Ready
  • The Trader Character: George Geronimo
  • The Saver Character: Sarah Swordsman
  • The Super-saver Character: Billy Brawler

Our favorite item in this storyboard you ask? Samurai Swords. In the lower-ticket range it’s the perfect item for guests who weren’t able to earn a lot of tickets and for guests who are just trying to find something extra to round out their visit.

When we pick a favorite item, we look for the following:

  • Appeals to a wide variety of guests
  • Performs well in different markets
  • Above our Performance Benchmark*

*A Prize Performance Benchmark is the average sales/orders of a product from our customers currently ordering it. For example, of customers that purchase Samurai Swords for their redemption program, the average volume is 49 Samurai Swords per month. We call this a benchmark as it helps us identify where the optimal performance for the Prize is.

Essentially, Samurai Swords fly off the walls (no, not because people are throwing them…). Customers who offer Samurai Swords order and sell, on average, 49 Samurai Swords per month. Translation: you should be seeing $$$ rights now!

At our standard ticket value of 150 tickets, that’s approximately 7,350 tickets a month — or — 88,200 tickets a year. Given that we generally we see FEC & BECs payout 25 tickets to a dollar, we can then easily calculate the revenue potential of Samurai Swords.

To calculate the potential revenue gain from this product, we use a simple calculation:

[Tickets Earned per month or year] ➗ [Tickets paid-out per dollar]. Using the numbers above, it would look like this:

Revenue per month: [7,350 Tickets] ➗ [25 Tickets per Dollar] = $294/month

Revenue per year: [88,200 Tickets] ➗ [25 Tickets per Dollar] = $3,528/year

NOTE: The numbers and calculations above are made utilizing Redemption Plus’ standard ticket, price and payout values. The exact numbers vary business to business in actuality.

Beyond its Performance Benchmark and other important KPI’s Many items in the Armed & Ready storyboard are also “Character Tested & Kid Approved,” meaning we’ve taken them into the “field” and allowed kids the play with these items and provide feedback. The best ones pass the tough critics with flying colors and get the “Kid Approved” stamp.

What other items are in the Armed & Ready Storyboard?

  • 303591 Samurai Swords (obviously)
  • 312681 Air Foam Bow Shot
  • 313584 Missile Air Rocket 8in
  • 314996 Mace Spike Ball 16in Asst.
  • 314998 Nunchuck Printed 14.5in Asst.
  • 316027 Dart Shooter
  • 316289 Foam Dart Launcher Asst.
  • 316612 Nerf® N-Stike® Jolt™
  • 318548 Cyber Bow Set 22in Asst.
  • 218593 Nerf® Zombie Strike™ Targeting Set
  • 318595 Nerf® Zombie Strike™ Outbreaker Bow™
  • 319403 Ninja Weapon Playset 30in
  • 307274 Air Foam Mini Disc Shooter
  • 317949 Crossbow 17in
  • 316024 Flying Disc Shooter


Start with location in your redemption area. Pick a 4’ by 8’ portion of your wall that makes sense within the context of the rest of the room to get started. For example, putting Armed & Ready next to Imagination Station (another Storyboard of ours about expanding your imagination) would make sense since both categories of prize are about becoming something else, or entering an “imagined reality,” like a battlefield or a castle!

We also recommend higher-ticket items be placed toward the top and lower-ticket items at the bottom so your guests can easily differentiate the value of products. Your goal is to get them to start telling themselves the story of winning the big prizes, and the item that makes most sense for them. Use multiple facings of one item to show guests they have a variety of items to pick from and the choice is in their hands.


Every story needs a good plot, something the receiver (your guest) can imagine themselves being a part of. Your merchandising should be as active and exciting as the potential fun of the Armed & Ready prizes. The Armed & Ready Storyboard is about camaraderie between friends and healthy competition. It evokes imagination and allows guests to put themselves into Ancient Japan as a ninja, into a zombie apocalypse or anything in between. Talk about an adrenaline-pumping adventure!

The beauty of the Armed & Ready story is that it gets kids up, active and using imagination, which is one of the 2017 Toy Industry Association’s Top Trends, announced at Toy Fair in February.


All good plot lines thicken with good conflict, but when it comes to your redemption program you’ll also want to eliminate the unnecessary internal conflict a guest may feel when trying to select a prize.

The positive side to conflict is the excitement and anticipation it brings to the story, and your guest’s experience should be no different. The value of your product mix and quality of your merchandise can built great anticipation and excitement about winning the right prize. Having just the right amount of options creates a good kind of internal conflict and incentivizes investment in the experience from the guest.

For some players however — often the young ones — this may be the first big decision they’ve been allowed to make completely on his or her own. Make the decision as easy as possible for them by grouping similar items together on your wall. This allows them to find groups of product they are attracted to the most. In turn, speeding up the checkout process, which equals happy guests, happy parents and happy team members! :)


Ah, the ending; the part of the story that’s either happy or sad. A — seemingly — easy way you can end your merchandising story on a happy note is with flawless process and customer service at the checkout counter. An incredible guest experience will leave ticket redeemers (and parents) wanting more. Here is where you win the battle against your competition.

It’s also important that your guest feels satisfied and resolved at the end of their redemption experience. Did they see enticing prizes and get to make a choice that felt right for them? In the story they’ve been telling themselves, did they win?

When picking products for our storyboards, we try to make sure to have the ending in sight…how do we see Jane Ready’s story playing out with the Samurai Sword she won? Did she beat her Ninja friends, or did they all team up to win against the giant dragon?

I guess only her imagination will know…

Stories need feedback, too!

As this story comes to a close we want to know how you tell a story through your merchandising. Let us know by sending us a picture of your merchandised wall (story), and we’ll share our favorites!

We also encourage you to engage your guests and ask them to tell you their stories; what they loved, what they didn’t, and how they think their experience can improve. One thing you can do is run UGC (user generated content) campaigns and ask your guests to share their fun online, then collect and share your favorite guest memories!

As you continue to use your redemption program as a vehicle to engage your customers in a story and wonder to yourself, “What is it they’ll really buy?” you can guarantee they’ll at least be looking for a story;

“There’s always room for a story that can transport people to another place.” — JK Rowling

This article is by Tabatha Bender, Connection Crusader at Redemption Plus.

Insights Empower is a collection of thoughts & insights to inspire, educate and connect the Family Entertainment & Bowling Center industry. From the team at Redemption Plus, est. 2017 🎉

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