Now that we are clear about such important notions as what gamification is, its potential for user loyalty as a complement/replacement for SEO, as well as the basic game mechanics and some examples of its application, we will go deeper into how gamification can be applied in a specific field, namely e-commerce.
In order to analyse how to implement gamification in ecommerce, you must first be clear about your targets. Although targets are variable depending on each online store, some common targets to all e-commerce stores can be taken into account:
- Increasing sales
- Increasing conversion (from users to customers)
- Increasing user loyalty
- Increasing the number of users who access the store
Taking these targets into account, different types of technology can be applied. Firstly, recommendation systems will help you to achieve all the targets, but you can provide further support by means of some gamification techniques. Let us take a look at some possible applications, analysing their impact on sales, conversions, and user loyalty.
Promote the generation of contents in your online store
If your online store does not allow the generation of contents by users, gamifying it will be difficult, as the only available behaviours will basically be visits to contents and purchases. However, if you allow your users to make comments, generate product lists, update and/or view related videos, write reviews, etc. you will have a large number of actions available to “toy with”.
This is the approach taken by Bluefly, which, together with Badgeville, has tried to turn its online store into an online game where users (mainly fashionistas) can earn badges by generating contents. Content generation also helps you to better position your online store, and attracts new users.
Encourage users to invite other users to your store
This is something relatively usual in mail order sales. For example, if you are a member of Círculo de Lectores (a Spanish mail order book club) and get an acquaintance to register in Círculo de Lectores, both you and your friend will obtain a certain benefit (free books, lower prices in some products, etc.) However, this is something that is not being yet exploited in many e-commerce websites. If you also introduce some kind of game mechanics, such as a list of users who have invited their friends to the online store, and give discounts to the “top inviters”, you will make your store more dynamic and attract more users.
Extend the game beyond your store: encourage users by means of virtual goods
If you want to offer incentives to your most active users, instead of just offering them badges or points, you can extend the feel of a game beyond your store, offering virtual credits (e.g. Facebook Credits) to your most active users, or as a reward for reaching a certain “level” as a store user. In this way, you will provide added value that is of interest for many users. You can make use of platforms that already exist, such as iFeelGoods, which provide the relevant Facebook Credits for a certain purchase to your users.
Design levels on the basis of your desired user and customer behaviour
Although you can create as many levels as you like and make them meaningful on the basis of a made-up global theme, it makes more sense to determine what the behaviour which you would like your users to have is, and design levels that help users to perform the actions that you are interested in. For example, LevelUp has designed 3 generic levels which however make lots of sense: “Try it”, “Like it”, “Love it”. These levels are aimed at turning occasional users into regular customers who are loyal to the store/brand.
Taking the main targets mentioned at the start of the post into account, you can design a number of basic levels to improve each of the targets:
- First of all, you want to increase conversion rates, you the first change of level should take place when a visitor (attracted by means of SEO/SEM/etc.) becomes a user, for example by registering for your newsletter.
- Once an occasional user has turned into a potential customer (once you have “caught” the user), the next step is for the potential customer to turn into a buyer, and that’s when the next change of level takes place.
- After that, you want the customer to become a loyal customer, and so there is a new level (the equivalent of “Love it”)
- In addition, you can define attracting new customers as an additional target and encourage users to invite other users, and thus generate a new level for customers who invite new users.
The “game” should go on in social media
A good way of getting your customers to talk well about you, promote your stores, and make the “game” go on beyond your store, is to extend some kind of game dynamics to social media. For example, you can offer some kind of reward, badge, points, or even going up one level to users who upload a picture/video of a product bought in your store or tweet about it using a specific hashtag. You shouldn’t think about gamification of your online store as involving that the “game” which you design takes place solely and exclusively in your store. On the contrary, it is suitable and good for you if some of the game takes place outside your store.
Allow your customers to brag about their achievements
Badge-based gamification works well because users are proud of their achievements. If you gamify your online store, allow your users to “brag” in some way by means of a blog widget or by tweeting a URL where their badges are displayed.
If you are interested in gamification applied to e-commerce, we recommend that you read the “gCommerce: The Gamification of ecommerce” report.