There’s been much discussion about how the 2020 global pandemic has accelerated digital transformation. There’s no doubt that businesses have had to rapidly adapt to remote working, disrupted supply chains, and changes in consumer priorities. One area that has felt it particularly acutely is the retail sector, where traditional bricks and mortar stores have lost out significantly to their e-commerce rivals.
The pandemic had accelerated e-commerce growth by 4 to 6 Years
With lockdowns and quarantines in various guises being implemented across the globe, coupled with people’s concerns for their personal health and safety while out and about, consumers have turned to online retailers to get their shopping fix. In the US alone, consumers spent $21.7 billion online in the first 10 days of the holiday shopping season, which represents a whopping 21% year-over-year jump, according to Adobe Analytics. Indeed, as early as May this year, experts were quoted as saying that the pandemic had accelerated e-commerce growth by ‘4 To 6 Years’ and that these higher rates of e-commerce and BOPIS (buy online, pick up in-store) could be the new abnormal.
So what does this mean for retailers in the longer-term? How can they retain customers and build loyalty that continues long after the pandemic is over? Of course it’s important to get the basics right by ensuring you have a great website, with easy product search and check-out functionality, as well as offering a range of delivery and post purchase service options that meet the changing needs of customers. But when the service and experience normally delivered in a bricks and mortar experience is stripped away, what can brands do to improve the online experience, and to make it a fun, engaging, and rewarding experience that people will want to repeat and share? What can retailers do to retain and nurture their customer base so they will return to the physical stores once the doors can be fully reopened?
Gamification builds loyalty and enables brands to quickly turn the online experience into one that’s fun, engaging and rewarding
Gamification is one technique that online retailers can deploy to help them maintain stickiness, reduce basket abandonment, increase spend, and ultimately drive that much sought after customer engagement and loyalty. By implementing key gamification mechanics, brands can create interactive digital experiences that reward customers, keep them coming back for more, and that lay the groundwork for future in-store interactions.
For example, instant-win surprise and delight style games that reward the shopper with special offers and discounts can be used to introduce new products to individuals and in turn help increase basket size. They can also be used to reduce shopping cart abandonment, depending on where in the flow they are introduced. At the opposite end of the spectrum, in terms of game play, longer style repeat-play games provide a great opportunity to present fresh and engaging content to your audience and get them to come back time and again. By serving up information in a fun and enjoyable gamified way, you can easily inform and educate your audience about your brand and its full range of products/services. You can also use gamification to reward customers for their loyalty and encourage them to return through the use of reward mechanisms such as points, achievements, and levels of status.
As we move forward in 2021, it is likely that brands will begin to look to reopen their physical locations as normality returns. Gamification can also be used to link the online to offline experience and this can help retailers drive traffic and footfall to where they need it most. This is also something they can look to implement now. With the rise of BOPIS proving to be a delivery option of choice for many, there is an opportunity to test such solutions and learn what works best for you and your customers.
Capturing that much sought after “earned” data
One benefit that presents itself more readily in online vs. physical retail is the ability to collect and analyse customer data. While the purchase data being collected enables you to make informed assumptions about product preferences and likely future purchase behaviours, getting to really know your audience is where the deeper relationships with your brand can be formed. We call this valuable, fully-consented, self-reported data Earned Data and the only way to acquire such rich insights is to provide a clear and transparent two-way value exchange between brand and customer.
Gamification provides brands with a way to acquire earned data by providing different engagement mechanics that encourage and reward the willing provision of such data, and make it a fun experience while doing so. Then, once you have this rich data, you can continue to analyse and use the insights to adapt and refine your customer’s experience to better suit their preferences and interests and so deepen the relationship you have. Indeed this is something the 3radical team in the US are working with FKA Brands’ HoMedics to achieve. By providing a mutually-beneficial value exchange, HoMedics is able to increase its consumer lifetime value through the use of gamification mechanics that develop a profile of fully permissioned data for each participating customer.
Digital transformation and rapid online growth is not going away
While the pandemic has proven a serious challenge for traditional retailers, the e-commerce boom it has driven also presents a great opportunity. Digital transformation and the rapid growth of online is not going away anytime soon and in order to survive and thrive, brands have to continue to adapt and change.
As the online retail landscape grows it also becomes more crowded with an ever increasing range of choice being available to consumers. To stand out, brands need to deepen their relationships with their audiences and provide experiences that are fun, engaging and deliver value to both parties. Gamification provides an excellent vehicle to achieve this and is something that can be quickly and easily implemented. Once in place, it can be used to address many different business challenges and provide a way to capture earned data and provide rich consumer insights that have previously been viewed as out of reach for many organisations.
As we leave 2020 behind and look to 2021 and beyond, brands need to ensure they are set up for success and able to capitalise on the opportunities the recent e-commerce boom presents. If they don’t, the future doesn’t look quite so bright.
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