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As with any retailer, CAMP had to figure out its e-commerce strategy fast once the pandemic hit and temporarily shut the doors of its five toy stores.

But the problem with moving a store for kids online is that the experience is not nearly as fun as walking down an aisle of toys with $20 in hand, children cannot be trusted to not buy $2,600 worth of SpongeBob popsicles while their parents’ aren’t looking.

CAMP’s new Present Shop, which launched today, is trying to solve for both of those problems, all while assuring the thousands of available products are safe, curated and appropriate for its young shoppers.

The online shop gives children the creative oversight of selecting the best gifts for their friends, parents, siblings or themselves on special occasions and holidays, like birthdays and Mother’s or Father’s Day. It’s also meant to replicate the fun of the in-store experience with a video game-like design.

“People don’t come to CAMP to shop, they come to CAMP for an experience,” said CEO Ben Kaufman. “We’re not trying to sell you the same Barbie you could buy at Amazon or Walmart. Instead, we want to deliver you a digital experience just the same way we deliver you a physical experience to our stores.”

To use Present Shop, an adult first fills out the address for where the gift will be sent and buys a credit on the shop that generates a unique code, like a gift card. That code is given to the child, who receives a certain number of tokens they can use within the shop, gamefiying the experience like an arcade prize counter.

Once the child enters the site, they are asked by a cartoon bear mascot who they are shopping for, a quick overview of that person’s favorite activities and foods and then they are served a collection of dozens of items that are best suited for the gift recipient. After the child spends the total coins, they can select and customize a card and it gets shipped off with the gift to the recipient in a special present-like box.

Currently, Present Shop is patent pending and while Kaufman said other toy retailers have approached CAMP looking to white label the technology for their own sites, this e-commerce platform will not turn into a licensing business and will remain exclusive to CAMP.

CAMP’s first iteration of experiential e-commerce took place during the the holiday season and was its virtual take on the classic white elephant gift swap. The program ran for three weeks and at its peak had 20,000 people playing in one day on Christmas Eve, driving in a total of $1 million in sales during the first 10 days alone, according to Kaufman.

Shortly after white elephant wrapped, Kaufman said his team started working on the next e-commerce business, something that would live next to the company’s newly established media website and would become a permanent part of the business. In total, it took the team five months to come up with the idea and build the tech stack for Present Shop, he said.

“Present Shop is truly a scale play for us. It takes a long time to build stores and build up a brick and mortar footprint. So this allows us to to meet more families sooner,” said Kaufman.

There are not any sponsorships tied to the shop at launch and while it is a possibility in the future, Kaufman said it is not a priority. What is a crucial, he added, is building a loyal batch of customers who use the platform all year long.

The biggest challenge for getting traction for Present Shop will be getting parents on board, according to Ben Zettler, a digital marketing and e-commerce consultant and founder of Ben Zettler Digital Media. 

Parents and lawmakers are already expressing concerns for other kid-focused internet platforms that are coming into the picture, including Instagram for kids, citing concerns around privacy and mental health. The primary goal for CAMP will be selling the parents on the safety first and foremost, said Zettler. 

At launch, Present Shop will be primarily marketed via social media campaigns (can we say where?) to parents, using a video ad that highlights the particular safety issues kids face when searching terms like “gifts for adults,” according to the company.

“Kids will likely love it as long as they get the keys to the kingdom,” Zettler said.

The post CAMP wants to patent e-commerce for kids with its new Present Shop appeared first on Digiday.