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How gamification plays into retail

How gamification plays into retail

In all the discussions of omnichannel marketing and merging your physical location with your online presence, there's one particular tactic that's undeniably popular – gamification.

For those of you who are unfamiliar, this is the practice of incorporating game mechanics and game thinking into your store operations to increase customer engagement. If you want new ideas for bolstering your base of loyal customers and boosting the level of interaction your brand has with its patrons, learn about gamification in the retail industry.

The gamification playbook
When you plot your foray into retail gamification, it's important you understand how it works. According to Retail TouchPoints, it's in our nature to be attracted to competitions – humans inherently want to succeed over peers and enjoy praise for their skills. There are elements of gaming that make it addicting and effective in various realms, including retail businesses. It begins with desire, which is fueled by incentives. Challenges become attractive based on achievements and awards, including positive feedback and, ultimately, mastery. 

The "four I's of engagement" that the source described have an impact on the popularity of gamification – intimacy, influence, interaction and involvement. With gamification tactics, you make your brand more personable and relatable, which provides a sense of intimacy that can build customer trust and loyalty. Rewards programs that have a social aspect create influence through the increased brand visibility. Word-of-mouth marketing becomes more interesting when it has a social component and carries bragging rights. Consumer engagement is boosted by gamification because it gives them new ways to connect with your products and services. Rather than strictly interacting with the merchandise itself, shoppers are engaged digitally and socially as well. Finally, the involvement component of gamification draws customers to participate and form deeper relationships with the company. You may also see an influx of new customers, thus better return on investment. 

Let the games begin
While this is certainly an opportunity to have fun with your customers, you should know that the strategy isn't about tricking your customers or playing games with their intelligence or trust. Instead, gamification should encourage shoppers to visit your store more often and stay longer. To be successful, you should have short- and long-term goals for the program.

First, determine how the competition will be run. Retail TouchPoints described three levels – competition against self, social networks and the general public. When customers are in competition with themselves, they're trying to collect points or badges to constantly improve their previous personal score. If you want a rewards program that's based on social competition, it's important that you have a strong presence on the key online platforms. Without a solid base of followers on Facebook or Twitter, the social motivation won't be there for participants. Lastly, grand prizes and sweepstakes encourage customers to fight for victory against an unknown amount of competitors. In all three instances, the value of the game stems from the perceived value of awards.

Gamification can have internal benefits as well. If you use similar tactics with your employees, you can increase their engagement and loyalty to the company. This can be done through a point system based on tasks and responsibilities, like daily chores or freshening display tables. It also allows them to make new connections with their coworkers and relate to shoppers on a different level.