March 20th, 2011

Etail – A Serious Game

Businesses are looking for new innovative ways of interacting with their customers online and “gamification” is becoming increasingly popular – the process by which businesses use gaming tactics to encourage people to spend more time on a product or piece of software. The popularity of social media games on Facebook was one of the surprise success stories of 2010, and gaming has captured the imagination of millions, whether it’s tending a farm, building your own city or caring for a virtual pet.

For retailers, gamifying your website might involve embedding small games or activities as part of a page, allowing your customers to use virtual currency, or instigating a virtual loyalty points system gained via engaging with pages or apps within a website. Websites are now looking at adapting some of the gaming tactics in an effort to boost sales and retain traffic to customer orientated websites, particularly those which rely on ecommerce.

User engagement has been proven to increase when game mechanics are applied to websites, although whether this does directly affect revenue or loyalty is as yet undetermined. I think anything that increases site interaction with your visitors has positive implications if used correctly, and your customers will expect you to keep up with all the latest innovations to keep your site and brand fresh and current. It is also a useful measure of what is and is not working on your website, as you can see areas which are particularly low in engagement, as well as finding out more about your most frequent visitors.

The gaming demographic are also a prime target for engaging in online shopping, as statistics show that “gamers” are more likely to be an online shopper, and a lot more likely than a non gamer to review or rate products online *. This means it’s crucial to impress these users, as they are likely to be the ones who are most vocal about their experience on a site.

Great design and interactivity are fast becoming crucial to driving traffic to your website, and offering something different is becoming increasingly difficult to ensure yours stands out from the competition. It could be that adding a little fun to your website in the form of gaming is a new way of setting your website apart from your competitors.