With the industry’s endless calls to make shopping fun again, one idea — still in its infancy at retail — is games.
That’s the thought behind the Grand Bazaar Shops shopping center’s game, which initially launched earlier this year with a second game added recently. The two games, one a spin-to-win concept and the other a slot-machine style game, can be played on the center’s web site, with the option of playing up to three times daily. It’s free and there’s opportunity to win discounts for stores and restaurants at the center, or shopping vouchers in the amounts of $10, $25, $50 or $100. The center expects to add additional games in the future.
“We all know people love their cell phones so we see it a lot here at the property,” said Grand Bazaar director of marketing Deann Tello. “We see guests taking lots of pictures and uploading them to social media and referencing their phones for directions and things like that. We wanted to reach them on that device and we also know that the percentage of people who participate in mobile gaming has steadily been increasing year over year and it shows no signs of stopping so we thought let’s do something with cell phones.”
Grand Bazaar counts about 70 retailers, with 30 of those participating in the game program.
Centers have traditionally offered guests discounts via e-newsletters or through their web site. Games are more engaging, Tello said.
Gamification among retailers is nothing new. HSN in 2011 launched HSN Arcade, with options to play different games that were also integrated into the company’s e-commerce platform. Victoria’s Secret Pink Nation’s app for iPhone or Android is shoppable, but also provides filters and stickers, for example, that can be applied to a user’s pictures. Macy’s Inc. has also seen successes with gamification with different games online, some of which are intended to sell certain merchandise but for the most part aimed at engagement — getting customers to write more reviews or lead to discovery of other product, for example, all of which Macy’s chairman and chief executive officer Terry J. Lundgren told WWD at the Global Retailing Conference this year have led to longer online sessions and more engagement.
“It’s got the potential to have the game extend into the store,” Lundgren told WWD at the time of the conference. “So [for example] come to the cosmetics department and this particular counter and pick up a particular item because you just won. And I’m very enthusiastic about any ideas that drive traffic to the stores because when they come into our stores, they buy more.”
As for who games attract, it’s diverse.
“It’s either a Millennial or someone who thinks they’re a Millennial,” Lundgren said.
Tello agreed saying the game at the Grand Bazaar is meant to appeal to everyone and not just a younger cohort, which is key in the Las Vegas market.
“We definitely want to be relevant to the Millennial generation, but the average Las Vegas visitor is quite a broad range of ages so the nice thing is that the game is so simple that even for some folks who maybe aren’t overly technically savvy, it’s easy for them to just go to the web site,” she said.
Tello said the center is mulling placing an interactive kiosk on site so the game could also be played there. She reported she’s heard anecdotally from some tenants that they are seeing an uptick in traffic with customers coming in to redeem their vouchers.
The motive, regardless of the business, is to evolve programs such as customer loyalty and make them relevant in a digital world, explained Aron Ezra, ceo of Las Vegas-based software gamification company OfferCraft.
“Rather than a static coupon, the retailers have really pushed us to come up with innovative things to make those coupons and discounts even more revolutionary so when we give out a reward, oftentimes, that reward can change after you receive it,” Ezra said.
That means, someone could win 20 percent off merchandise at one store, with the discount increasing or perhaps offering the ability to be swapped out for something else.
“All of that is helping to create far more interesting loyalty programs,” Ezra said.
Part of the success of evolved loyalty programs is also their ability to capture the attention of consumers trained to expect things on demand. Where it may take weeks or months to earn enough points for a reward under some loyalty programs, a new generation of games make it easier, Ezra said, and are “inviting people to complete a specific transaction at a specific time.”