Why Retailers Should Consider Gamification to Boost Sales At Christmas

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

We’re fast approaching that time of the year when people argue over whether or not Die Hard is a Christmas movie, people overplay “All I want for Christmas is You” and everyone you run into says “Merry Christmas, ya filthy animal”. Now this might sound like I’m being the Grinch but let me assure you that I am unapologetically guilty of all three of these actions, I’m just self-aware enough to know that other people are probably well and truly done with me, come Christmas. It really is the most wonderful time of the year, it’s also the time of year that we see a great uptick in gift shopping sales.

This means that to cap off the year, there is a final push in sales that all brands are making simultaneously. So how does your retail store, whether it be brick-and-mortar or an ecommerce store, standout and rise above the shopping madness that comes with the season? Wait for it… Gamification.

This season can be overwhelming for shoppers. Between the large wish list from loved ones and the bombardment of seasonal marketing, the whole idea of gift shopping can become a bit much. Humans are naturally competitive however. We’re hard-wired to want to win, and we’re motivated by reward, whether it’s monetary, physical, or simply bragging rights (ever gone to the gym with a buddy and noticed how much more you achieve?).

Gamification, which is the process of turning an otherwise uninspired task into a game in order to motivate and encourage people, has been used for years in many different forms. Here, we’ll look at gamification as it relates to retail during this holiday season, and why business owners should consider gamification to help boost Christmas sales and engagement.

Gamification in Retail

Gamification has been a part of retail for a long time, the terminology was coined in more recent years but the principles have been incorporated into many different company’s sales strategies long before. We now see a lot more smartphone utilised gamification but well before present examples, we would see a lot more gamification in the form of loyalty programs and flash sales.

During a holiday season where most shoppers are making multiple purchases for other people in their lives, there needs to be something about your marketing that can hold the attention of these fringe consumers.

In the end, Gamification works in retail because it helps brands engage with their customers. Game mechanics also make shoppers believe that the more they shop, the more they stand to gain. Gamification has the ability to drive new and returning customers to your store, while offering insights into how shoppers engage with your brand. Lets take a more detailed look at different areas in which gamification can enhance a consumers experience while shopping in a retail store, with examples and why they work.

Rewards Programs

When you create an experience for customers that is more than transactional, a brand relationship is founded. When you let a customer know that you have noted their interactions with your brand and you wish to reward them accordingly, the customer feels appreciated.

People love being rewarded, whether it’s in points, discounts, or merchandise. An easy way to tap into this human desire is to build on customer engagement and brand loyalty by developing a tiered rewards program, where shoppers can perform certain actions to inch their way to a specific milestone.

Take Starbucks for example, as they once had the standard stamp card system that enabled customers to receive a unique stamp on their loyalty card with every drink purchase, and once the stamp card has been completed, the customer’s next drink was free. These days Starbucks has redirected all their loyal customers to a personalised app which keeps track of all their awarded “stars” (points), and how far off they are from their next free drink.

Along with an update to the loyalty system, the app allows you to place orders, points you in the direction of the nearest store location and provides limited time offers. In today’s competitive environment, just having a loyalty program is not enough. You have to make a concerted effort to differentiate your program from others.

The app is obviously differentiating the program in the eyes of the consumers as it manages to generate around 6 million sales per month, making up around 22% of all US sales for the franchise. Starbucks also sees a great increase with in-app purchases around the holiday season.

Another route for rewards programs in retail, is the offering of loyalty points. Major retailers such as Myer, David Jones, and Walmart all have loyalty programs that encourage shoppers to make purchases in order to earn points. Once a certain number of points have been earned, they can often be redeemed for discounts or virtual cash to spend at the store.

Beyond both stamp cards and points systems is the offering of VIP status. Having a system that offers exclusive membership to only a company’s most loyal customers based on past purchases, is a sure fire way to encourage customers (both those who are awarded VIP status and those that are lacking) to push into further purchases with a brand.

Providing exclusive previews of upcoming merchandise, special offers and event invitations are all strong motivators to encourage VIPs not to lose their status (loss avoidance) and to encourage others to attempt to reach VIP acclaim.

Bottomline, Rewards Programs encourage customers to return frequently to a brand with ease.

Building A Mobile Game

Being a Gamification Marketing company that specialises in branded mini-games, the team here at Gamify can talk until we’re blue in the face about the benefits of reward based games within a brand’s marketing, but we will keep it brief and leave you a few links on Changing Buyer Behaviour, why Gamification Marketing has become so important, 13 reasons to use Gamification in a Marketing Strategy and 7 successful Gamification case studies and what made them so effective.

Without sounding like a broken record, gamification is built around motivational science. The inner-most workings of what can promote action in an individual are built into gamification initiatives and touched on in some form or another through the use of game mechanics. People are innately driven to earn rewards as opposed the being offered a handout.

Owners of location based stores often feel like they can’t compete with ecommerce when it comes to attracting young, tech-savvy shoppers. According to KPMG, 87% of Millennials use more than two tech devices a day, which is why many retailers have started to use mobile gamification to engage with these customers.

An example of this can be found in GameStop. In the lead up to the release of “The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt”, GameStop partnered with Warner Brothers, Interactive Entertainment and Google Maps to create a promotional game that asked players to find monsters that are featured in the "Witcher" game series, for a chance to win one of the hundred $50 GameStop gift cards they were being offered as a reward. The game not only helped promote the release of The Witcher 3, but also leveraged Google’s Street View and GameStop’s social media channels, which offered clues.

Whether you have an app or a website, having an embedded game that offers rewards and unique exclusives can be a great way to increase site traffic and brand engagement.

Bringing Gamification In-Store

Whether your retail store is online or it has a geographical location, you can enhance your store experience with game elements.

To tackle the easy stuff first, online stores already have the advantage of being able to implement game mechanics such as a progression bar within the shopper’s view. Elements such as these can help customers to see how close they are to completing their order and/or receiving their reward. This is an example of both feedback and progress, two game elements that act as stimuli in greatly encouraging customers to complete the task at hand.

Location based retail stores can also incorporate gamification into the shopping experience as well. Offering in-store incentives for certain actions and purchases can go a long way in changing buyer behaviour.

An example of in-store gamification can be seen in the shoe retailers Stride Rite, with their campaign to encourage kids to try on shoes. Shoppers would select a shoe in the store, try them on, and mimic dance moves on screen as accurately as possible. At the end of each game, the child would receive a score, which they could share online. Not only did it increase the amount of time children and their parents spent in store, it also drove the sales conversion rate because shoppers would feel positively about the shoes they had tried on.

With the direction that reality technology is heading in, it’s well and truly on a fast-track to becoming the next wave of shopping enhancement and gamification opportunities.

Augmented reality can heighten the change room experience at clothing stores, through enabling shoppers to see an outfit from different angles and in different lighting so they’re more confident in their purchase.

Virtual reality also provides experiential insights. In 2016, IKEA famously launched their virtual reality kitchen experience so that shoppers could experience all their finishings on custom kitchens before making the purchase. Since then, IKEA has helped customers bring the experience home with an AR app that helps project into their living space what the potential furnishings would look like in the actual living space.

Moving Forward With Retail Gamification

Gamification can deliver rewards for retailers, whether it’s increasing loyalty, engaging new customers, creating a fun shopping environment, or driving sales. Gamified shopping experiences can also allow retailers to track and gain insights into their customers, test new products and promotions, and keep overall customer experience high. This holiday season, why not give yourself the gift of maximised sales efforts, fringe consumer engagement and longterm customer investment.


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