GamificationIn today’s hectic world, where speed and convenience are constantly sought after, online shopping is threatening the traditional brick-and-mortar retail experience, as well as customer loyalty, with consumers having access to an abundance of choice, prices and reviews with just the click of a button. But with experience and engagement playing such a crucial role in retaining the attention, interest and loyalty of customers, can online shopping really ever rival the “rush” of brick-and-mortar shopping?

Call it what you will but the psychology of shopping and the “buzz” we feel after securing the last size of clothing on sale has been studied and proven. Before the popularity of the ecommerce industry took off, shopping in itself served our senses of mastery and competition, knowing that it is us and not another consumer who has succeeded in buying particular items.

However, with online retail we have lost much of the social and exciting aspects of shopping in favor of convenience and speed. Everything is clearly laid out on a page and there is nothing driving a shopping frenzy such as the risk of losing out to another customer. So with countless consumers pressed for time and abandoning brick-and-mortar visits for online convenience, how can online retailers tap into that basic human instinct that will incentivize spend and drive engagement?

Get Your Online Game On

Gamification could certainly be the answer. Gamification can be defined as the concept of applying game mechanics and game design techniques to engage and motivate people to achieve their goals, while tapping into the basic desires and needs of users which revolve around the idea of ‘status’ and ‘achievement’. According to Gartner, by 2015 a gamified service for consumer goods marketing and customer retention will become as important as Facebook, eBay, or Amazon, and more than 70% of Global 2000 organizations will have at least one gamified application.

Online retailers who have already employed this concept are seeing significant returns. Teleflora, a US-based florist, reports seeing conversion rate improve by 92% following the introduction of gamification into its loyalty scheme, rewarding customers who comment, review and share products on the site and on social networks. Another gamification technique, one that has proven popular with today’s time-strapped consumer, is the customer curation process, used in particular by the popular website Polyvore.com. It allows shoppers to curate boards of outfits with accessories and shoes. By implementing customer curated collections and adding a gamified aspect, the online retailer has succeeded in driving higher customer engagement.

Introducing the gaming mind-set has long been talked about in marketing, but retailers have traditionally been slow to adopt the method to increase engagement because of the assumption that gamification implies the creation of entire games. But in reality, gamification is more about the introduction of competitive angles to the retailers’ offering. By incorporating these angles, online retailers can encourage shoppers to give into their competitive instincts, and bring back the fun and social aspects of brick-and-mortar shopping to drive loyalty across channels.

So it would seem that gamification has the potential to increase customer retention when integrated into a loyalty scheme. By adding more levels of customer engagement to the retail experience and thus driving purchases, gamification could provide an online experience that customers will return to time after time.