Retail Gamification 101 – What You Need to Know

In a retail environment where coupons and specials are now the status quo, and most millennials can find a good deal on anything they’re interested in buying online, business owners need to work harder than ever to earn and keep the attention of their customers.

At a foundational level, this means building and reinforcing a differentiated brand that demonstrates a unique character with strong core values. On the surface, it comes down to brand interactions, and making the purchasing process a little more engaging to your best customers.

To do this right, both large-scale and little-guy brands are exploring the fundamentals of game dynamics to fuel both their long-term loyalty initiative as well as their in-store customer experiences.



Gamification is About Integrating Game Mechanics Into Your Customer Experience 

The concept of gamification essentially means turning something into a game in order to motivate people to complete a task in an enjoyable manner. Tell your kids to do their homework, and it’s nothing but an annoying chore.

But recontextualize it as a fun challenge with rewards at the end, and it becomes a game. While the end result might be the same, the voyage to get there is a lot more enjoyable. And you as a parent are able to build positive associations with behaviours you want to encourage.

Influence Your Customers’ Buying Behaviours With Retail Gamification

As humans, we’re all hard-wired to love winning. We want to achieve more than the next guy and be the best at whatever it is we’re doing. This psychology can also be applied in the world of retail. Gamification has become an increasingly popular marketing tactic in the retail industry to help drive engagement and action among shoppers.

By rewarding customers with points in return for frequent purchases, shared stories, or social media commenting, store traffic and purchase rates can be exponentially increased.

Gamification Makes Things More Enjoyable

Gamification makes things more enjoyable because it taps into our basic human need for competition and social interaction. Instead of feeling ‘tricked’ into taking a certain action, we feel more in control when participating in game-oriented shopping. This adds a whole new dimension to the shopping process. And retailers get to reap the rewards of boosting customer engagement and loyalty.

You don’t actually have to create entire games to capture gamification. You won’t be playing ‘Red Rover’ in your store for a prize. Instead, retail gamification simply means introducing a competitive angle to whatever it is you offer your customers. Throwing in these angles can encourage customers to tap into their natural competitive instincts, which can bring back the social aspects of shopping to boost customer loyalty.

Consumers are becoming increasingly savvy and sophisticated when it comes to their buying behaviours – they know that they are providing high value to retailers, and want something in return. They expect more enjoyable experiences, in addition to incentives to spend their hard-earned dollar.

So How Do You Integrate Game Mechanics Into Your Retail Business?

If you get crafty and use your imagination you can come up with a way to incorporate gamification into your business to motivate shoppers to take action.

A tiered rewards program works extremely well in this case. Customers perform certain actions to inch their way towards reaching a specific milestone. After starting at the bottom, the member now enters a new tier after surpassing that milestone.

And with new tiers brings new rewards. You may consider offering more rewards points for the higher tiers, like giving 30% more points on each purchase, free shipping, or access to exclusive products not available yet to the general public.

With a tiered program, customers are participating in an effort to get closer to a goal every time they buy something, instead of just spending money. Tiered programs can be seen as personal challenges for customers to see how good they are at completing certain tasks. It’s amazing what a simple tier status can do to make a customer feel accomplished.

Build A Better Loyalty Program

Too many retailers these days are launching loyalty programs for the sake of telling customers they have one. But in most cases, that’s just not enough to impact a business’s bottom line in a meaningful way. Loyalty programs that work require a buy in from everyone in the business, thorough planning and tight execution.

A loyalty program should function as a long-term marketing initiative, an investment in not only your customers, but also your brand. The best programs reinforce a brand’s values with a definitive tone and feel to every aspect of it. They fuel a more emotional buying experience that customers can actually enjoy.

All of this can be achieved through gamification. With a gamified retail shopping experience that allows you to track every movement made, you can test new products, new promotions, new challenges and adapt, to keep your customers spending and loving the overall experience more than ever.