There is a growing trend among ecommerce that has – like many aspects of online shopping – accelerated over the last year and a half.
That trend, increasingly being used by brands and retailers, is the convergence of gaming and shopping, where gaming traits are embedded into the digital experience in order to make online journeys more compelling and boost their sales.
Let’s take a look at one example with the retail marketplace Tophatter. Online shoppers can browse in a way that is less about saving time and more about spending time.
Rather than simply offering products across a large inventory, Tophatter injects entertainment value into the experience. Its website connects people to thousands of stores around the world. The site gives shoppers a choice when it comes to how they shop: they can either take part in an auction or browse for items they are interested in.
Most marketplace platforms like Amazon are places where people can simply shop the items they want to buy and that’s it. Tophatter is a place where people look for products that are surprising and can also take part in spontaneous auctions.
However, playing games during the shopping experience is the feature that many people go to the marketplace for. Curiously for almost all first-timers, the marketplace has no search bar for browsing specific items.
“We have seen the average number of hours spent on the app double since launching our mini games,” according to Ashvin Kumar, its CEO. “The app is live in multiple countries, but our largest shopping base is still centered in the US.”
It’s a concept that finds its origins in Asia yet it is quickly taking over marketplaces around the world, and it is coming to more places in the US.
Play n’ shop
This type of platform is not for all shoppers. Many just like the simplicity of speed shopping the items they need; in and out as soon as possible.
“Consumers are eager to find convenient, fun ways to pass the time,” added Ashvin, “whether they are at home or waiting to pick up their kids from school or soccer practice. From the time we launched, Tophatter has allowed anyone to easily browse and bid on the go.
“With the added layer of gamification, we are providing a retail process that goes beyond quick checkout to enable a wholly entertaining experience.”
The gamey marketplace has been growing since its inception back in 2012. Today it has 35 million customers – pointing to the rising popularity and demand for gamification in the shopping experience.
Fun n’ games
There are two small games integrated into the Tophatter marketplace. The first one, Quests, is a set of challenges both daily and weekly, where shoppers can earn points by doing tasks – this includes things like placing bids. Then there is the second game, Treasure Spin, which is a wheel that shoppers can earn points on, as well as cards and other products.
“Based on how Tophatter shoppers have responded since the launch of our integrated games a few months ago,” added Ashvin, “we can tell there is a growing appetite for retail gamification in the US. We are excited to explore the possibilities in this category and continue to improve and enhance the shopping experience for our customers.”
Engaging in these games provides the possibility of customers winning cards for discounts. These cards include:
- Credit cards – these hold a value of between 50 cents and $5.
- Mystery packs – these include 3-5 cards and can include credit cards.
- Win skins – these change the look of the virtual auctions by adding special effects to the screen such as dancing animals and fireworks.
- Functional cards – these change the function of an auction, such as placing a last-minute bid on an item which can give them a 99% guaranteed purchase.
“Discovery marketplaces like Tophatter,” said Ashvin, “give people an opportunity to go beyond their shopping lists to easily explore for and find new, unexpected items just by scrolling.”
Unlike most marketplace platforms, vendors on Tophatter don’t send their products to a centralized warehouse before they are then distributed. Instead, Tophatter vendors manage their own logistics and fulfillment. “Sellers set their own shipping prices,” added Ashvin, “with guidance from us on what resonates with shoppers the most. To repeat a purchase, buyers can click the item title on the My Orders page to see if more items are available to buy now.”