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Retail Store Apps: How Gamification Can Increase Sales on Your Retail App

December 20, 2016

Our lives are gamified in more ways than we think. The World Wars, Formula 1 events or even The World Toe Wrestling Championships all hit on a fundamental part of human nature: our drive to outperform our peers. If you’re in the retail space and you have an ecommerce app, let’s take a look at some proven features that take advantage of the competitive human spirit and help boost sales in the process!


Badges: Foursquare was sitting on 45 million users with just badges and reviews before they introduced Swarm in May 2016. Snapchat Trophies made the already successful app even more compelling. Badges are a simple reward system that give your users a sense of accomplishment. When it comes to ecommerce, introducing badges can scale engagement patterns for any competitive user. Whether it’s for the masters of each category, the highest number of orders in a defined period, the most reviews, the top voted reviews, or some other criteria, badges can bring out that competitive edge in each user. Get creative and play around with the type of badges you use and how your users can achieve them, even sometimes using exclusivity to get the ball rolling. As the trophy shelf gets larger, you can even create a showcase window. It’s important that this is done after a few badges are won because you don’t want all the showcases to start off empty. These will create a sense of urgency and you’ll see the results!

Social: This is a no-brainer. Give an option to link user accounts with each user’s social media accounts. The big players in ecommerce are already doing this. Let the users decide if they want to share their badges or what they have ordered on their social feeds. Though social media doesn’t fall under gamification by definition, it undeniably plays a role. Social media is on par with mouth-to-mouth publicity. It’s a necessity to integrate into your ecommerce app so your users can share their gamified results!

Referral bonuses: Referral rewards programs are popular on many of today’s ecommerce platforms. If competency can be achieved through a referral reward system, bringing new users is going to be a walk in the park. Like loyalty points (below) and badges, it involves creating a layer for bringing in x number of users and scaling a reward through it. Be it a digital badge or materialistic reward, any custom element that associates a user’s shopping experience with positive feelings is going to influence their future decision making.

Loyalty Points: Similar to badges, loyalty points are cumulative and allow users to catch up. If loyalty points have scarce reward offers, there is a motivation factor. Don’t limit the accessibility or have few opportunities to gain points, though. It’s important that they feel rewarded for small gestures. Perhaps opening the app every day for 5 consecutive days gives a user 5 points points. Or ordering at a specific time or the same product more than once. Find creative things that you can do to encourage users to place an order or interact with your app. It’s also important to figure out how these loyalty points can be leveraged by a user. Create a need for them to convert these points. Thinking of reasons that would encourage you as a user to redeem them is a good place to start.

If you consistently create opportunities for users to interact with your app, you’re well on your way to successfully implementing gamification. Creating a sense of scarcity will increase users to become collectors. Think of it like increasing XP to scale to different levels. Power-ups are the reward systems and they instantly boost the interaction layer. Gamification in retail is a risk-free environment; the worst-case scenario being someone using all their money to buy items from your store. Create a sense of urgency with different features and give bread crumbs for rookies. You’ll certainly walk a fine line that separates engagement from annoyance, so use the data you have as best you can — and take inspiration from some of your favorite games. There’s a lot to learn from Super Mario and Pac-Man, after all.

What is the best gamification feature you’ve seen in an ecommerce or retail app? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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