You walk into your local grocery store in search of one thing: ice cream! 🍨 Right away you know what part of the store you need to go to — the frozen food aisle. From there you can browse different types of frozen items. Everything from frozen vegetables to frozen pizzas to your desired treat— ice cream — is going to be in this part of the store. Can you imagine how confusing it would be if frozen pizzas and ice cream were in completely different areas of the store?

Humans naturally process information in categories. We need a way to efficiently narrow down all grocery store items to just the one type of thing we’re looking for.

This same browsing technique applies to how your guests shop through your redemption area.

The Psychology Dictionary defines categorization as: The process of grouping or classifying people, objects, events, and experiences. Usually, these are grouped according to classes based on (1) common characteristics which members share in a class and (2) distinct features which distinguish these members from those of other classes.

By including categories in your redemption display, you create a more enjoyable shopping experience, increase the likelihood of more revenue and save yourself time in your ordering and merchandising processes.

Let’s discover more about the importance of having sections in your redemption display:


As humans, we process the information we have available to us before we make decisions.

According to an article by Shopify, “Grouping products with other similar items will give your customers additional reasons to buy more items from you. But grouping products also has a more utilitarian justification: it saves shoppers time. They don’t need to wander around your entire retail store trying to mix and match things. It’s one of the reasons grocery stores will put dips right beside their chips, or peanut butter with jams.”

This heightens the importance of categorizing product in your redemption area by two-fold:

1 | Organizing by category gives guests a place to start. They will naturally be drawn to a section of product that appeals to them. The redemption area is typically the last stop for your customers in your center, and a child having an overwhelming experience can leave parents feeling frustrated.

Sectioned categories create a more enjoyable experience for your shoppers. They’re able to make decisions faster and are happier with their prize(s) — more on that later.

Not only are your guests more satisfied when shopping by category, but by reducing decision time, you’re able to service more customers. which opens the opportunity for additional revenue.

The other option? Merchandise your product without categories and suffer this fate:

2 | As the above quote mentioned, the quicker shoppers can process options, the more likely they are to make impulse decisions. In a family or bowling entertainment center, this means a guest might find a prize in his desired category that he doesn’t have enough tickets for. Since he was able to process this information quickly — and there’s still 30 minutes before his family has to leave — he can beg mom or dad to purchase more game credits so he can try to win his desired prize. And what does that mean? More game revenue for you!


I know what you’re thinking, you hardly have time to organize the birthday parties scheduled for this week, let alone your entire product assortment. Sure, your redemption area might be fine as it looks today but investing time in a merchandise plan can make or break your guests’ shopping experiences.

Research by Cassie Mogilner of Stanford University and her colleagues shows people are more satisfied with items when choosing from a category — no matter how meaningless that category might be.

An article, The Way the Brain Buys, by the Economist explains their findings:

“In a study of different coffees, they found people were more satisfied with their choice if it came from a categorized selection, although it did not matter if the categories were marked simply A, B, and C, or ‘mild’, ‘dark roast’ and ‘nutty.’”

Implementing categories in your redemption program, even indirectly, can subconsciously convince your guests they are more pleased with your prizes.


Now that we know how organizing your redemption area into categories makes your space easier to process, there are extra steps you can take within each category to enhance the shopping experience even more.

How you arrange your product within each category section is important. We suggest high ticketed items are placed toward the top, with their lower-ticket counterparts toward the bottom of your display.

Also, you will want to include multiple facings of items when applicable. This shows your guests they have a variety of colors to choose from.

In the example above, you’ll notice the higher-ticketed items are placed at the top of the layout, and the ticket amount of the items decreases as you work down the wall. Multiple facings is at work here, too. Almost each item in this themed section is displayed more than once.

Again, the redemption area is often the last stop for visitors before they leave your facility. Ensuring they leave with a prize that satisfies them and justifies the money they spent is important for generating repeat guests.

Categories help guarantee a great redemption experience for your guests and your staff. Implementing categories in your redemption display can also assist you in managing your SKU count and ensure you have an optimized prize assortment. Most importantly, categories increase the “shopability” of your redemption space, which leads to happy customers and a better chance for long-term success of your incentive program.