Playfully increasing sales at the POS

Gamification in brick-and-mortar stores

Photo: man interacting with a display; copyright: ameria GmbH

With the interactive "virtual promoter", customers can already be approached at the store window and encouraged to interact; © ameria GmbH


What types of advertising still work at the POS system today? More than ever, retailers need to ask themselves this question. After all, even if customers can still be approached by using classic advertising techniques, it’s unclear which form of advertising actually resonates with customers and achieves the desired effect.

Due to the constant inundation of advertising modern man is subjected to in the areas of print, TV and Internet, many customers are experiencing a certain advertising fatigue. It’s high time for new concepts that might interest customers in products and services.

The term “interactive” is the key word in this case because modern advertising should not just appeal to customers but ideally also actively include them. After all, the mere number of distractions and stimuli customers are confronted with today makes it hard to get their attention and gain their loyalty.

Appealing to the play instinct – evoking emotions

Given the ever-increasing competition by eCommerce, the goal of brick-and-mortar businesses should be to further enhance the shopping experience. Gamification – that being the use of simple game mechanics combined with product advertising – can make a major contribution in this case.

And here gamification is actually just the continuation of a familiar principle, namely the process of emotionalization. Many retailers are already aware that they need to address their customers on an emotional level to turn every purchase into an experience. Games offer an excellent method to achieve the desired emotionalization – compared to classic advertising, the customer is not just being bombarded with messages here, he actually participates voluntarily and has fun doing it.
Photo: shopkick app opened on a smartphone; copyright: shopkick GmbH

The shopkick app rewards users with bonus points simply by walking into a store. © shopkick GmbH

Using gamification to increase sales

Attempts to integrate playful approaches into one’s marketing definitely vary. Perhaps the simplest version is collecting bonus points to use for shopping – either as a classic sticker or on an app on your smartphone. The Shopkick app takes this a step further. App users are rewarded with bonus points simply by walking into a store. In Germany, this bonus system is already in use in over 1,400 locations by partners Douglas, Media Markt, Saturn, OBI, and Karstadt.

Things can get even more unusual: just a little while ago, Düsseldorf organized a “digital scavenger hunt“ during which customers had to complete tasks in the participating stores for a chance to win up to 1,000 Euros. Another example of combining location-based services with playful elements already received an advertising award in 2012 in Cannes. One fashion store offered its customers who happened to be near the store a 99 percent discount. The playful aspect of it: the discount percentage decreased, the more time passed from the moment the customers received the message – so the customers needed to hurry to arrive at the store as quickly as possible.
Photo: Coca-Cola’s campaign theme "Open Happiness"; copyright Ksubaka

Ksubaka has turned Coca-Cola’s campaign theme "Open Happiness" into a game where players need to toss five ice cubes into a Coca-Cola glass on the tablet; © Ksubaka

Gaming on the store window and at the shelf

Last year, the ameria Company presented another playful sales approach at the EuroCIS in Düsseldorf. With its interactive “virtual promoter“, customers can already be approached at the store window and encouraged to interact. The virtual promoter uses Microsoft’s Kinect technology to detect passing pedestrians that are aurally and visually addressed by a life-sized avatar that’s projected onto the store window. Kinect recognizes the motions of customers as action commands, for instance during interactive play or to navigate through product presentations.

The closest thing to video games are solutions by the British company Ksubaka for example. The Londoners develop brand-based games that can be directly played at the shelves on tablets and instantly reward the player. Ksubaka has turned Coca-Cola’s campaign theme ”Open Happiness“ into a game where players need to toss five ice cubes into a Coca-Cola glass on the tablet. If they succeed, players get a coke right at the store and are invited via text message to register on the “Open Happiness” website. According to the company, more than 20 percent of users clicked on the link during this campaign and visited the website – far more than a pure poster or digital signage campaign would have achieved. For L‘Oréal, the company developed a game where participants had to tap the screen to shift gears at the right moment during a car race. In doing so, the L’Oréal Men Expert product line was able to increase sales by 8 percent in the target audience of ”men between the ages of 18-25“.

Games breathe new life into advertising

Thanks to gamification, especially brick-and-mortar stores are able to once again gain and retain more customers – though it essentially does not matter whether the games are played on the smartphone or on touch displays. New mobile solutions such as location-based services further promote the implementation of gamification techniques since the customer can be directly reached on his/her smartphone. Customers already know: gamification is fun! Who doesn’t like to be actively involved versus just getting passively inundated with advertising? Gamification is an important new tool for the retail industry because it supports emotionalization, creates shopping experiences and therefore increases customer loyalty.

Author: Natascha Mörs; EuroCIS
First published at