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Ecommerce: Online Games

A trend for online games has resulted in creative ways to win sales in the run-up to Christmas.

Retailers and brands have increasingly turned to ‘gamification’ - online games designed to engage with shoppers - this Christmas to breed loyalty, raise brand awareness and boost sales.

Leading names, including Selfridges, Ted Baker, Office, Charlotte Olympia and US store group Bloomingdale’s, have all launched games via their transactional websites, apps, social media platforms and shop windows this festive period.

For Selfridges and Bloomingdale’s, the focus is on brand awareness. Selfridges has launched a retro-style game called Elfridge and the Enchanted Forest, which has five levels representing its four stores in London, Birmingham, the Trafford Centre, Manchester Exchange Square plus its transactional website. It urges players to take part and save Christmas after a golden goose steals all the presents, while informing them about locations and offers at the different stores.

A spokeswoman for Selfridges explains: “For us, this is about giving something back to our customers, amazing them and entertaining them in the same way they would be by some of our in-store entertainers, for example singers and Father Christmas.”

Bloomingdale’s is enticing passing shoppers to take notice of its flagship store by launching interactive games shown in the shop window at 59th Street and Lexington Avenue in New York.

The display, devised by New York digital consultancy The Science Project, directs shoppers to the site and a feature called Ready Set Bow! It provides a three-digit code to enable them to start playing three different games on their phones: Memo-a-Bow, a card-turning memory game; Whack-a-Bow, styled on Space Invaders; and Peek-a-Bow, where players have to keep their eye on a bow under some boxes as they move.

Andrzej Marczewski, gamification expert at consultancy Capgemini, says: “People crave novelty, and once they stop they look at what else is going on around the shop while other people gather to see what they are looking at. Once you’ve stopped, you’re more likely to walk through the door.”
Meanwhile, other games are about advertising specific products and incentivising shoppers to look at new collections. Ted Baker has launched a video and Instagram-led game encouraging its shoppers to join the search for Santa’s missing elves, enabling them to be in with a chance of winning more than 150 prizes. The video shows a selfie of Santa and his elves the night they disappeared and shoppers are then directed to click through a series of Instagram pictures and puzzles to track down the elves.

Craig Smith, brand communication director at Ted Baker, says: “It was important to create a campaign that would really stand out. Using Instagram in this exciting and engaging way allows us to interact with both our existing and new audiences.”

Footwear retailer Office has launched its first social media game, which aims to match shoppers with their ideal pair of shoes using a feature similar to dating app Tinder. When visiting, users are shown 10 different images, for example of actor Ben Affleck, footballer David Beckham, leading TV series and animals. They are then encouraged to swipe right for ‘yes’ if they like them or left for ‘no’ if they are not a fan, until ultimately they are matched with their ‘shoe love’.

The retailer said that in two weeks, 17,150 people had played the game. The feature had also received 313 Twitter mentions and 5,000 email addresses were captured.

Kathryn Kenny, head of social media and content at Office, says: “For our first social media-focused campaign, we wanted to cut through the competitor noise and create a fun and easy-to-use game to effectively engage our online and social audience. To date, we’ve surpassed any expectations and the reaction has been extremely positive, referring to its user-friendly, humorous and contemporary link to current dating apps.”

Women’s footwear brand Charlotte Olympia ran an online slot machine game, called Spin to Win, for the first 12 days of December. This invited shoppers to pull a lever and try to line up three products to win a prize from the current collection. When Drapers went to press, the brand was recording 236 wins from the game.

Marczewski says: “Retailer interest in gamification has ramped up astronomically. What games do brilliantly is break down entry barriers. It gets people instantly interested in what’s going on. Retailers are realising that loyalty takes much more than loyalty cards, so games will become more prevalent throughout retail.”

He adds: “If it’s unique it will make people stop. If it’s familiar - like Selfridges’ retro video - it will make people feel happy. It’s got to be fun and playable in its own right when you take away the prizes.”

Designing these games can vary hugely in cost from around £10,000 right up to £200,000, but Marczewski says: “If you’re willing to invest and make something interesting, people will talk about it, analyse it and play it, so it’s not a huge investment for the number of new people that you made look at your company.”

With Christmas having provided the platform for retailers to test novelty games on shoppers, more are now expected to get involved as Easter provides another opportunity for theatre and fun.

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