There is something in the air that is inescapable than amazing growth hacks – Wit and Wisdom. Albeit with a variety of growth hacks, the relentless drive to challenge the status quo has resulted in the stemming of a new maneuver and brought into equation- Gamification. Considering the omnipresence and scale of gamification, ecommerce retailers can shape popular opinion for their respective interests. Thanks to Gamification, ecommerce niche is all slated to become all the more interesting. Before delving deep into the intricacies and nitty-gritty of gamification in ecommerce, I would like to emphasize that this write-up is a heart-warming and an educative article with extensive focus on ‘Integrating virtual currency system in online marketplace.’
To define in lay man terms, Gamification is the systematic and wise utilization of techniques mastered from real life games so as to infuse a dash of addiction and immense user engagement. People do not mind spending hours and days playing video games. People do not mind investing time, energy and efforts on addictive content. So, why and how are product designers able to make major inroads through gamification? The answer to this question is simple. We human beings, tend to lose interest on all monotonous pursuits. To do away with boredom and to experience ‘mind tickling’ vibes, Gamification is the heart warming panpharmacon. Gamification is a ‘Human focused’ pursuit and gaming industry pioneered he aspect of ‘human focused’ design. In other words, important information is churned out by engaging and motivating audiences. If important information is not churned out, the very essence of gamification is lost. The key components of gamification are:
- Competition: Competition makes gamification an interesting caper. Let me explain this with an example- Assume that there is a group of players playing cricket. Players start playing cricket with complete dedication and supreme diligence whenever there are cash incentives, awards such as ‘Best Playing eleven’, ‘Player of the tournament’, ‘Team of the tournament’, ‘Man of the match’ etc. If there are no such awards and rewards, players are going to play cricket for the sake of playing. Competing with opponents brings the best out of players. Competition is deeply ingrained in gamification.
- Mastery: Let me quote Bruce Lee’s adage, “I fear not the man who has practiced 10000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10000 times.” Gamification is perfectly in line with this adage. Whenever people become addicted to games, they tend to practice. Eventually people gain mastery. Applying the same train of thoughts, when ecommerce business principles are taught to sellers by leveraging the concepts of gamification, sellers become acquainted and well versed with ecommerce business principles. Eventually, they become masters of trade on ecommerce marketplace scripts.
- Credits and Points: Whenever players complete a few levels or achieve a few milestones in the game, points are awarded. After completing all the levels, the winner is awarded certain credits. Credits and points give you a sense of accomplishment. Credits and points may be of no use in real life. However, the ‘sense of achievement’ that one gets at the end of completion of the game is hard to miss. This sense of accomplishment is what drives people crazy thus making them do a particular activity again and again.
- Status and Badges: We humans tend to carve a niche for ourselves in whatever we do. Whenever you achieve something great, people start respecting you. They look at you with complete adulation. Badges are tokens of honor. For example, Lionel Messi, the Argentine Footballer is held in high esteem for his No.1 FIFA ranking. Leave apart the people who are acquainted with the game of Football. Even people who hardly know anything about football still recognize Lionel Messi as a top notch and a highly skillful footballer. Recently, Tata Motors roped in Lionel Messi as its brand ambassador. Also, Messi worked as the goodwill brand ambassador of UNICEF. Such is the momentousness that people give to status and badges.
- Gamification as an avenue to improve: No doubt, people play to win. However, it must be realized that people play to improve. I can explain my point with a few examples- Whenever cricketers play, they analyze their techniques. If there are any flaws in their techniques, they do their best to rectify. Similar, Golf players strive for perfection. Regardless of the game and the intricacies involved in it, people tend to play to emerge stronger and victorious. Gamification is thus an avenue for improvement.
- Networking and Leaderboards: Whenever people start playing games, they start socializing with one another. For example, it is not uncommon to find business men closing a few business deals when they are playing a round of golf. Networking stems exotic alternatives. Here is another example- Whenever people play Massively Multiplayer Online Games (MMOG), people exchange comments and messages. Appreciation and constructive criticism are in the offing. People learn from one another. Most importantly, players wish to be in the shoes of the winner. Socializing and networking are always in store.
- Collaboration: This is an advanced stage of networking. Collaboration spices up networking. People start entering into robust partnerships. Collaboration is all about win-win situations. For example, People learn Microsoft MVA (Microsoft Visual Academy) courses. Experts collaborate with one another whenever they build a game from scratch.
These educational, situational, simulational and psychological components make gamification a highly desirable, structural and a playful pursuit. Foursquare became an instant hit because of the aforementioned gamification features.
Gamification is in many niches such as:
- Banking and Finance
- Sales and Marketing
- Human Resources
- Technology development
- Corporate training
- Digital Marketing
- Software Development
- Knowledge management
- Learning and development
- E-commerce etc.
Gamification in E-commerce
Gamification in e-commerce is all about having three main components:
- Challenge – This should be achievable and challenging
- Instructions – Instruction should be crisp, short and easily comprehensible.
- Rewards – Reward the winners. Do not play with the expectations of the winners. Reward them and appreciate them. It is all about winning the trust of participants.
Identifying the types of players in e-commerce:
- Pleasure seekers: They play for the sake of pleasure. Ensure that your game is replete with fun elements and pleasant surprises.
- Status seekers: They play for the sake of influencing others with their status. They often try to top the leaderboard. More often than not, they end up being successful.
- Networkers: They play for the sake of improving their network base and list of contacts. They try their best to analyze the strategic strongholds and weak points of opponents.
Popular gamification examples in e-commerce
- e-Bay’s competitive bidding and feedback system: When it comes to maintaining a competitive ecommerce store, nothing can beat e-Bay. Its robust competitive bidding and feedback systems make the pursuit purchasing all the more exciting. Whenever a shopper bids on an item and ends up purchasing the item, he/she experiences a unique ‘winner’ feeling. The fact that the shopper becomes the owner of that particular item is an achievement in itself and hence, he tops the feedback score board. Whenever the name of the shopper is uttered by the administrator of the competitive bidding event, the shopper cum owner experiences ecstasy. Shoppers do not mind shedding a few extra bucks to become the owners of items. Gamification has indeed made shopping on e-Bay all the more engaging and even more addictive.
- Nike’s “Beat the Winter” campaign: Nike’s famous “Beat the Winter” campaign hit the headlines for all the right reasons in the year 2011. So, what was the much hyped campaign all about? It is a known fact that athletes are trained outside. Athletes have to struggle in cold. In winter, the training is even more challenging. In its sincere efforts to promote winter sportswear, Nike came up with its interactive campaign- “Beat the Winter”. Players were given an opportunity to interactively assist a noted athlete of their choice in “beating the cold” through a series of training exercises. The game featured three outstanding athletes – NFL football wide out Greg Jennings, U.S. women’s soccer player Alex Morgan, and Olympic gold medal sprinter Allyson Felix. Nike’s “Beat the Winter” campaign created a sense of empowerment and creativity. The sales of winter sportswear reached an all-time high.
- LinkedIn: When it comes to B2B businesses, LinkedIn stands second to none. When ecommerce pundits project themselves as thought leaders by creating a very good LinkedIn profile, LinkedIn displays profile strength. Just for your knowledge, the various profile strengths are:
Whenever you have an All-star profile strength, you can don the hat of an industry expert. People make a beeline to your venture. Probably, that would be the best time to cash in the ‘e-commerce industry leader’ status. You need to have at-least 50 connections to get All-star status. Connections and communities work wonders. So, LinkedIn indeed has various gamification features.
- In ecommerce marketplaces, whenever a user’s wish list get more likes, he/she earns some virtual points which can be redeemed on subsequent purchase of items. For example, whenever he/she purchases more than $100 – he/she gets 20 points that can be redeemed on buying a few related products.
- Competitive bidding and robust feedback systems should be introduced.
- Communities and discussion forums help a great deal. I invite you to read my comprehensive and insightful write- ups on “How Forums and discussion boards help B2C ecommerce platforms” and “How a small business ecommerce store made $55000 in less than 30 minutes”
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