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Retailers are constantly on the lookout to create new and innovative customer experiences in order to engage shoppers, create excitement, and build loyalty. Many retailers have tried Gamification but only a few have been successful in generating real benefits out of it. Retailers often ask: Are games only for the young generation? Will games work even in the physical store environment, or are they only for social media? What kind of rewards can I offer?
It is important to understand that games are powered by six core elements: desire, incentive, challenge, achievement/reward, feedback, and mastery (Retail Touch Points).Retailers must evaluate their target audience and then identify the gaming channels and rewards that will work for them. It is only when retailers are able to crack a gaming idea that ties-in the brand, offers an engrossing and stimulating experience to the users, and incorporates all the elements of a successful Gamification strategy, can retailers hope to succeed.
Here are some strategies that you can implement:
- Nothing works better than social gaming: Social gaming is a great medium that has the capability to bond all the elements of a successful gaming strategy. For participants, winning here can easily become a status symbol and also encourage others to participate. They can participate from anywhere and can share results and talk about it with their friends at the same time. For instance, BestBuy has become a part of the popular Facebook game called City Ville. Users who add “Best Buy” to their virtual world show that they want the brand to be present in their life. Many retailers have launched interactive games on Facebook for their followers with varied level of success.
- Creating fun and rewarding in-store experience: As compared to online social gaming where consumers can compete with their friends or other brand users, in the physical stores, most games are ones where the users compete with themselves.The other type of games here could be to compete against a broad audience or even celebs. For instance, competing with celebrity chefs to outdo them when it comes to making the very best pizza.Retailers are also combining gamingwith store check-in services. Starbucks has moved a step ahead in merging in-store experience with digital gaming. Visitors in the store can challenge their friends in the popular game of Angry Birds. Target gamified the checkout process in their stores where staff was scored based on transaction speed and accuracy. This reduced checkout times and also reinforced the feeling of achieving high score in a game through green lights and beeps.
- Engaging visitors on your brand website: Bonobos.com that sells men’s clothing through its e-commerce websites incorporated gaming in a fun way. The retailer hid models dressed in their signature pants around the website and the users had to search the site to find and click on them. The first 50 people to find the pants everyday received a $25 Bonobos credit and free shipping. Another way to connect with people is to enable them to watch videos, create wish lists, write reviews, and read blog posts, and offer special badges and discounts to the most regular visitors.
- Making the experience as real as possible: It is important toutilize your own brands and products while designing the game.For instance, a leading fashion retailer challenges its users’ knowledge and taste in fashion by providing them an opportunity to build a fashion boutique and empire. They use the same challenges that an actual boutique owner would face. This creates an extremely realistic experience. By making the game realistic, retailers also get a chance to educate users about the product range/variants or services.
- Gaming in 3D: A few retailers have also incorporated 3D gaming in their mix. Norma Kamali (fashion designer) built a 3D video on its site and asked users to find six objects within the experience. More than 20,000 fans requested a free pair of signature cat-eye shape 3D viewing glasses in the first week of launch. Valentino, the luxury fashion house, recently launched a 3D virtual museum that showcased hundreds of outfits, thousands of images, sketches, and fashion show videos. This offered an engaging experience for the users to explore the products and learn more about them.
- Mixing the channels: ALDO has successfully merged Instagram, Facebook and their microsite in one of its social gaming campaign. ALDO pulled images that matched the newly launched fragrances and put them in the game. Facebook users selected the images based on colors they liked to create a mood board that they could post on their Facebook profile. This visual experience also took them to the ALDO microsite. New technologies are getting popular every day; it’s for the game designers to find out what matches the target base and use technologies to innovate and develop unique experiences. Retailers should utilize gaming for all their customer touch points, including physical stores, e-commerce stores, social media, online communities and forums, mobile apps, and so on.
- Keeping it simple for your audience: To have a wider user-base, the game that you build should not be too complicated, time consuming, or difficult to download/play online. Instead it should be engaging, innovative, and rewarding. Samsung has a simple strategy to increase engagement. Users are encouraged to complete easy missions and the participants are entered in a random raffle to win a great electronic device.
- Letting your users innovate: Open ended competitions can be created where there’s no single solution. Fashion retailers have been encouraging users to design their own garments to participate in an online fashion show. The winning garment designers not only win prizes, they also get a wonderful chance to see their own design being sold in the stores. Such strategies can be implemented for other categories as well.
- Rewarding right: The rewards you give out should not tarnish your brand image. Rewards could be points, coupons, discounts, badges, priority services/visits, social currency, sweepstakes, free products/services, and so on. These rewards should be based on your target audience attributes and shopping behavior. What is that that would motivate your customers to take the desired next step? Advanced analytics and study of previous marketing campaigns can help you identify the rewards that will work best for your market.
- Analyzing: All the steps that you take in retail are learning experiences for future strategies. By analyzing the effect of gaming in terms of participation, engagement, sales, user choices, user behavior, achievement levels, top users, daily activities, and so on, you can achieve new insights and ideas to enhance your games further.