With consumers being more connected than ever before, the notion of Gamification in retail is quickly becoming an imperative. With the rapid increase in digital connections leading to increased speed and convenience across all aspects of life, the question now raised is how and where to deploy resources for digital initiatives effectively and efficiently and apply them towards Gamification. The digital transformation itself has evolved into a priority stack comprising the Internet of Things (IoT), Design Thinking, and Artificial Intelligence, and retailers need to act accordingly.
As online retail grows in importance, there is increasing interest in the online customer experience. Studies support the importance of including game elements to enhance the retail customer experience. However, data also suggests that customers can subvert gamification strategies to create their own ‘games’ without appropriate management, increasing competitive pressure between retailers.
Gamification in business has emerged as the intersection of game elements and non-game activities. A general definition of gamification is “the process of adding game mechanics to processes, programs, and platforms that wouldn’t traditionally use such concepts.”
Before considering the implications of gamification in the retail business, we believe it is necessary to explore and clarify why the concept was originated. This is crucial for two main reasons.
Firstly, specificity is essential as gamification encompasses a varied range of approaches, many of which can be considered a limited utility in retail. Secondly, most of the discussion into Gamification is driven by the potential of new technology instead of the theories that relate customer behavior to game mechanics.
For instance, popular web services such as Facebook, Twitter, and eBay all incorporate game elements to increase customer engagement within their sites. Increasingly, retailers are exploring game techniques to create reward mechanisms and position online shopping as an entertainment activity.
Gamification and the retail customer experience
The emergence of gamification in retail has come in the context of increasing interest amongst researchers in consumer motivations when shopping online. The key question here has been the extent to which offline models of consumer behavior can be seen as analogous to online models.
Returning to the question of gamification, this raises questions over how games can be appropriately incorporated into the online shopping environment. One implication is that ‘game’ elements need to be built from and integrated within the valuable core functions of the shopping task.
Gamification Apps as a Unified Marketing Strategy
Although the gamification of shopping experiences is not yet mainstream in the retail paradigm, it can be applied towards any product or service, regardless of the stage in the customer journey.
At its core, the appeal of Gamification is to provide the users with a sense of control. Similar to a game where participants get a reward — a new character or power-up, for example — for completing a level, gamification taps into our brain’s inherent reward mechanism, thus helping to reinforce a specific habit or behavior.
How do consumers derive entertainment experiences from online shopping?
Respondents identified two core themes, the first related to how online shopping is seen as replacing other entertainment activities, for example, by partaking in online shopping rather than watching a film. The second theme identifies how the online shopping experience provides several emotional benefits associated with entertainment activities, including relaxation.
Respondents value avoiding the hassle of stores and being able to shop ‘whenever you want. There are no set opening hours enabling shopping activities to be an option during time slots that might have previously been reserved for entertainment.
How do consumers respond to the inclusion of game mechanics within online retail experiences?
While most consumers did identify some interaction with specific retailers that implemented game mechanics, most of the discussion occurred over descriptions of respondents improvising their own ‘games’ from various elements of the retail experience. Thus, while on the level of an individual retailer, there was some interaction with game elements. These were subsumed by a more significant part of the macro game where respondents co-created competition between multiple retailers.
In conclusion, gamification empowers you to generate more customer engagement across all channels, helps gain valuable insights into customer behavior. However, it doesn’t require careful planning and execution. That is unless you are the consumer, it’s all just fun. Contact our experts to know everything about expanding retail business through Gamification!