Shopping today is undergoing a revolution. More and more, retailers are integrating gaming principles with technology to maximize the shopping experience in the physical store and on online retail websites and applications. For those unfamiliar with the term gamification, it is, simply put, implementing gaming concepts such as rewards, challenges, levels and competition, within a context that does not innately have them. Gamification in retail is amplifying both the customer and employee experience for overall better business.
When e-commerce emerged, it took the physical activity of shopping in the store to shopping online and made things a whole lot more convenient for a majority of the population. Consumers moved from the tedious chore of going through an entire department store to find one thing, to simply typing in an item in the search bar and having the exact item along with related results (like curated collections) pop up ready for them to click and place in their shopping cart.
However much convenience the transition did provide, the physical act of going to a store, interacting with retail products and retail associates was a form of engagement that would be hard to match. So what online retail has done is reinstall various engagement tactics, aka gamification, into the online shopping experience.
Many online retailers have created apps or leveraged their social media as a platform for such engagement. With the best mobile processors for gaming out there in the market, retailers are getting capitalizing on the technology by making their own apps and sites game-equipped. For example, retailers will host online scavenger hunts where customers have to find a certain item of clothing, etc., within the online platform and the first ones to find the item win a prize, e.g., credit to the store. Games like these encourage a longer staying time within the online shop and also incentivize consumers to come back for more. The more they engage in the site the more chances the retailer has to put its brand in front of them and ultimately gain customer loyalty.
Of course, gamification can come in traditional, non-digital forms as well, especially at brick-and-mortar. It’s hard for a repeat customer to pass up a “punch” in the punch card if they are coming back to the store…again. It’s small incentives like these that are still proving effective because they are simple to execute and bring customers back to the store.
What we are seeing more now though is an integration of both the physical and the digital experience. Retailers are starting to truly understand that hitting customers at multiple points of engagement works wonders. The brick-and-mortar store will encourage a shopper to check-in or share a status with a hashtag on his/her social media, causing a viral effect, thus translating into not only two types of engagement, interaction at the store and then participation in the online form, but also causing a viral and direct brand promotion in the online scape. The consumer is usually rewarded with a discount on their in-store purchase for doing this and the retailer gets word-of-mouth publicity, a win-win scenario.
Customer satisfaction is additionally coming to the forefront as technology progresses and it’s starting with gamification for employees at the store. Waiting in line at the register has become optimized at retailers like Target—games where employees can see what kind of scanning techniques are the quickest right on their screen have been installed so that operations can be improved upon. Employees feel motivated to do their job better with the leadership-board type system in place and employees who give customers the most enjoyable shopping experience at the register are rewarded.
Gamification is tying together the overall shopping experience. From online games and offline games to games that incorporate the two, both consumers and employees are playing games to get them towards a desirable consumer experience. The retail industry is winning when it comes to gamification and the best is yet to come in the future where retail will continue to succeed level after level.