How can e-commerce be gamified

Gamification for online shops: 10 playful elements

Enjoyable shopping, that's exactly what gamification wants to achieve in eCommerce. Elements from the world of digital games are used. With small tasks and rewards, it is possible to increase customer loyalty, loyalty and engagement.

Gamifying a process does not turn the activity into a game. Instead, when designing a shopping experience, techniques are used that game designers also use to make games exciting and attractive.

Gamification is gaining popularity for a reason -
it works.

It doesn't matter which task it is. You can gamify the composition of the shopping basket as well as registering for a user platform or a customer survey. Gamification is always based on the same principle: turning a difficult, complex or unpleasant challenge into an amusing and motivating activity.

Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

What is gamification?

Gamification is the use of typical game elements. The classic from game design is the progress indicator. Badges and the countdown timer are just as popular.

What is flow?

When you get lost in an activity, it is called flow. Typical of the flow is a "creative frenzy" in the here and now - the sense of time is lost.

What are engagement loops?

An engagement loop describes the cycle of motivation, action and feedback: the user's action is rewarded, another action is requested, this in turn is rewarded, etc. As a result, the user rises up a ranking list.

Requirement for the gamification of your shop

In order to gamify an activity, 4 basic requirements must be met:

  • aim
    There is a clearly defined goal of the activity. This can be a purchase, a completed wish list, subscription to a newsletter or participation in a campaign. Only a goal gives the activity meaning.
  • regulate
    These set the limits within which a goal can be achieved. Communicate your rules clearly in the terms and conditions. In addition, an information page describing the individual game elements can be helpful.
  • Feedback
    This provides information about how close a user is to achieving the goal. The feedback can be designed in the form of points, levels or progress bars. The feedback serves as a promise that the goal is achievable and will maintain the motivation to keep playing.
  • Voluntary participation
    This requires that your customers knowingly and willingly accept the goal, the rules and the feedback. This includes the acceptance of the terms and conditions and the privacy policy. The voluntary nature and the associated choice of entry and exit options confirm that the activity is perceived as safe and enjoyable.

The 3 basic principles: flow, motivation and loops

The term Flow comes from Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, who uses it to describe the feeling of being completely absorbed in an activity. While we are doing something, neither time nor ourselves play a role, and action is effortless.

Motivation is crucial for achieving the flow. The focus is on intrinsic motivation, an inner, self-evolving motivation: you simply enjoy doing certain activities because they are fun, meaningful or simply interesting. In the context of gamification, the RAMP and SCARF models are often used:

R.RelatednessConnectedness, loyalty
A.Autonomyindividual responsibility
M.Masterysolve problems
A.Autonomyindividual responsibility
R.RelatednessConnectedness, loyalty
F.fairnessFairness through transparency

Ultimately, feedback is crucial in order to maintain motivation over a longer period of time. The so-called Engagement loops can be rankings, progress indicators, awards, access to special services or a points account.

Playful elements

Whether old or young - everyone has an instinct to play. Through gamification, the content addresses elementary human needs: Playing motivates - through challenges and successes that are rewarded. In addition, breaking down tasks - for example into several levels - brings excitement.

Numerous elements can be used - there are no limits to your creativity. The aim is to create a context in which users can playfully satisfy their needs and thus act in a motivated manner.

The following elements have proven themselves:

  • Onboarding
    This describes the situation in which new customers come into contact with the system. The first minute of contact is the most important. During this time, users make a large part of the decisions regarding their shopping behavior. In this short time there should be the opportunity to get to know the basic principle of the system: a short video explaining the shop, an infographic about all functions or an FAQ page help here.
    Often potential users are also deterred by the fact that they have to register right at the beginning. First and foremost, new customers should have a sense of achievement. The first tasks must be designed in such a way that they can be completed without any problems: e.g. minimum order value of 10 € for free shipping. Getting a reward, such as a badge, can add to the positive experience. Only then should customers be asked to register.
  • Quest
    Challenges (quests) tell the users what is expected of them as part of the activity. Here it is important that these are always communicated before a challenge.
  • Progress bar
    The transparent visualization of the progress and the goals that are still open.
  • Level
    The higher the level, the more features will be unlocked. This can be a building up graphic but also a discount that depends on the content of the shopping cart. The impression of progress, success and recognition spurs us on to continue.
  • Points
    Loyalty points, virtual money or stars address materialistic instincts and the need for small rewards.
  • Badges
    Badges and medals are obtained by completing certain tasks: e.g. visiting the branch, participating in campaign days or sharing a status message on social media. You express your appreciation to your customers.
  • Ranking list
    It represents the placement that can be achieved through a point system, badges and / or level. A ranking list encourages the user to keep going through competitive thinking.
  • Improvements
    The further the user progresses or the longer he is your customer, the more new features are activated: e.g. upgrades, a simplified ordering process or free additional products that cannot be purchased in the shop.
  • countdown
    A timer shows the remaining time in which a certain task must be solved. A countdown is an important motivational element to get a task done as soon as possible.
  • Transparency of the result
    The current status and the possible points, badges and levels are displayed in the customer account. By visualizing the level of difficulty, the time required and the amount of the reward, maximum transparency is achieved.

Good gamification goes beyond points, badges and rankings and, of course, fits in with the core content of your company. Good game design is fun. The game concepts are self-explanatory. The user is led from one micro-success to the next and, in the course of time, climbs ever larger milestones that initially seemed unattainable.

However, a simple, points-based customer loyalty program is not gamification. It does not reach the user emotionally.

Legal Aspects

Personal data is often processed in gamification applications. Any ranking that shows top ranks contains explosives for those customers who find themselves at the bottom of the ranking.

As an online strategist, I therefore recommend offering a freely chosen name in the registration form. Let your customers know the purpose of the fantasy name. Use a tick to give consent that your customer would like to appear in a ranking. So you are both data protection-safe and with first-class customer service on the way 😉

4 facts about gamification
  • With gamification, users can internalize relationships more quickly and easily. At the same time, it increases the relationship to the product and enables intensive customer loyalty.
  • In order to gamify an application, there must be a goal, rules, feedback and voluntariness.
  • The basic principles of gamification include flow, intrinsic motivation and engagement loops.
  • The most important game elements include transparency, rewards and challenges

Malone Thomas W: What makes things fun to learn? A study of intrinsically motivating computer games. Technical Report CIS-7 (SSSL-80-11), Xerox Palo Alto Research Center, Palo Alto, California, August 1980.

Werbach Kevin, Hunter Dan: For the win. How Game Thinking Can Revolutionize Your Business. Philadelphia, 2012

Johannes Ippen: Web Fatale. How to design websites and web apps that no one can resist: Usability, user experience and interaction. Bonn, 2016

Werbach Kevin: Gamification - history of gamification. Online lecture by Prof. Kevin Werbach, University of Pennsylvania, September 2012.

Serious Games Society,

Which elements on your website are already "gamified"? I look forward to your comment 👇