Let’s play!Retail gamification coming to a store near you

Game playing isn’t just for kids any more. Retailers are switching on to  retail gamification strategies as the next big step for loyalty and customer conversion.

Gamification in retail

If you aren’t familiar with the term, gamification uses elements of play and common game mechanics like points, badges, to affect behaviour. It’s showing up everywhere from learning and motivation in big business to self-help courses. And now it’s being used in retail in all kinds of ways. As Danny Maco, at University games commented “Gamification is all around us. Loyalty programs are a great example; they all have game mechanics [such as] the progression bar – a mechanic associated with achievement.

Online play delivering rewards

Many retailers are using the technique to drive engagement with their brands. Early on, menswear retailer Bonobos gamified its social media campaigns, hiding models dressed in its khakis on partner sites and awarded the first 50 people to find the images each day with $25 credit and free shipping.

Gamification great for “collection shopping”

For customers wanting to put together a look, or a bundle of products that go together, gamification is great. Modern consumers are too time-strapped to search for the perfect collections and often look for curated collections to purchase. By implementing customer-curated collections and adding a gamified aspect, retailers can drive higher engagement online; increasing loyalty.

One leading homeware retailer was drawn on the popular wish list functions in this exact manner. “Mix and Match” bundles for homeware offer endless options, and customers are encouraged to create their own collections of products, sharing these with other customers to encourage them to purchase. The ‘game’ is to create a dynamic bundle of goods, share with customers and have the opportunity to become a virtual trader. People love sharing their (good) taste with friends (just think about Pinterest) and this process builds on that by confirming you have great taste when other customers choose to purchase your bundle.

Converting customers from “real” to “online”

In the Explorium in Shanghai, international retails wanting to crack the Chinese market are experimenting with futuristic retail concepts. It actually provides a controlled setting for businesses to observe and explore in real-time how consumers interact with new technologies and concepts.  For example, Toys ‘R’ Us created a game where kids and parents play together, and scan a QR code at each level. After collecting enough QR codes, they can redeem an online voucher – and, of course,  convert to an online customer.

Shoe retailer, Stride Rite, is trialling an instore game to encourage kids to try on shoes. The child has to mimic dance moves on a screen, while wearing shoes from the stoer. At the end of the game, each child receives a fabulous score, which they can post online. It increases sales conversion rate, and dwell time. You can post the score online, and in your own social media  – which extends brand reach.

Mobile Engagement

Gamification is proving particularly effective among mobile apps. At L Brands’ Pink Nation (subsidiary of Victoria’s Secret), there are in-app games such as Pink-O to deliver exclusives, prizes and draws. Gamification makes apps “sticky” getting users to spend longer periods time with an app and return frequently. They offer insights into customer preferences that can help retail mareters better target customers via mobile and other channels.

The future of customer loyalty and conversion programmes

So, gamification can clearly deliver rewards for retailers. The process for a combined gamification and loyalty scheme is complex. Retailers need to have the correct technologies in place to ensure smooth operations across channels. But, simply put, gamification drives purchase by adding more levels of customer engagement to the retail experience, providing an experience online that customers will return to time after time.


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