A Touch of (Gamification in) Retail

 

Retailing is the sector of all ages, for sure. Aside from any published reference, I might say that Kapalıçarşı in İstanbul is a historic shopping mall. Also seeing bazaars in many films showing earlier city images include various profiles that include various kinds of retailing. As long as someone needs to have an item that he /she cannot produce, it has to be traded. If the trade area includes demonstrated items, well, the rest is the process of retailing. Change the background from historic times to post-apocalyptic, even space-travelling times, the result will be the same.

We have retailing forever. Now, we also know that retail is such a sector that uses every technical and social development. As it lives at all centuries, maybe a quality of the survivor, retailing has the ability to integrate. So why can’t retailing and gamificafion meet?

Take Foursquare for example. Probably the most famous of gamified examples, Foursquare is a perfect tool to gather information about shopping. With the tools that are used so much and are so famous that they alone feel like a different methodology, the site is seperated from its rivals. The tools mentioned are badges, leaderboards and points.

Aside from Foursquare, e-shops seem perfect platforms to develop gamification applications. So when gamification and retail are mentioned together, online shopping sites müdür follow. But are they following, actually?

In Turkiye, gamification followed another path. We have mobile applications that are used to earn points which are traded into discounts and/or bonus products. Yuppi is the initiator; I remember there are duplicants but it’s better not tell more till I can refer to something significant. Yuppi is a mobile application running in Android and los platforms. As long as it is loaded to your mobile phone, whenever you pass near a store, Yuppi balon appears on your screen to pop. If you do so, you earn points. Additional points can be earned but you have to find out how after you enter the store. Well, stalking around, getting to the cashier’s and similar in-store actions add points to your account. When you earn enough points to get some bonus, you go and get it. Free movie tickets and free ice-cream cannot be that bad, is it? To earn them, they say, you just have to do what you always do: shopping!

With smartphones, people google everything as soon as they want to. so it has become a natural habit for customers to compare or provide additional information about the product that they plan to buy. It is claimed that people that move to use smpartphones during shopping is 44%.  As the guys in Yuppie succesfully did, I claim that there are “gamifiable” paths to go in this area to provide customer engagement for brands. Speaking of engagement, how about employees?

In Turkiye, many store managers and brands find it inappropriate for employees to carry phones. Indeed, not many customers may prefer to deal with a retail salesperson coping with anything other but themselves only. With many things, smartphones also make it easier to send messages, play irrelevant games and call buddies and giving promises and even making written pacts cannot reduce the misuse of phones to that minimum. So, why can’t we search for efficiency? Barcode scanner programs make it easy to locate products and report their barcode information via e-mail. Also web search can be made and product information could be seen in the web search. Also it must be admitted that especially in larger stores people can be reached easily by their mobile phones. The game in that? I know none, but there’s potential for sure, but if we don’t have smartphones then what?

In my opinion, this refers to a problem which slows the development of gamification areas. Just like the points, badges and leaderboards (PBL) framework that I mentioned earlier, there is another gamification paradigm and it is about making gamification in programming only. Surely, when gamification is spoken, the elements are compared to video games which can only exist into machines and computer systems and their derivatives: consoles, smartphones, etc. But gaming should not only be about playing video games. There are traditional simple games that have elements like video games. Surely, not that complex but these might also be used to gamify a process; therefore creating engagement and motivation.

Simple example, I am sure I cannot be the only person who throws a tissue into a dustbin as if I throw a basketball into a basket. In a market, as an employee, I play a game in which I try to detect inappropriate price tags and change them. With this explanation, it is a routine, not a game of course. Then I added a rule that I have to do these without any other employee noticing it. If I was noticed, then the game is over. A form of hide and seek into a market! Also a Metal Gear Solid variety with the concept of department store.

I collected the inappropriates and change them with a correct one. I put them in my pocket until another colleague noticed me and asked what I was doing. Game Over! Then I put the collected items out, counted them and calculated my points.

Of course, it should not be a “play” and we have to design it as a game. For instance, employees might be seperated into teams (in some stores, there are departments and this might also be used) and if a team catches others’ inappropriate price tag, that team earns points. While this may also turn out to be applying the PBL framework in the real world, I am suspicious that gamification of the daily routines that do not include any technological tool is a way that must be taken. And for retailing, aside from enriching the customer experience, gamification should be used to increase efficiency and break the ices of routines in the world of retail employees.

References:

http://yuppimobile.com/

İleri Görüş, May/June/July 2014, Harward Business Review Türkiye.

Gamification Course of Prof. Kevin Werbach on Coursera.com.

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