Game On: 5 Ways to Make Your Shopping Experience Funner

When I first saw Jane McGonigal’s TED Talk about how “gaming can make a better world,” I struggled with the concept. It was akin to my experience with Chris Brogan and Julien Smith’s approach to turning work into a game. Both of these ideas were new to me and it took a while to sink in. But then it hit – they are all onto something.

Take a few minutes to watch Jane’s presentation.

I want to throw out a challenge to you – how can you turn your current shopping experience into something fun? Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  1. Several of the grocery stores around town highlight the money a customer saves, but the experience is less than exciting. Typically this involved the checker circling the amount you saved on the bottom of your receipt and then handing it to you. So what! Now, what if you had some fun with this. Perhaps you add a big screen to your register that makes a major deal out of the saving a customer gets. Perhaps you plus this up with levels of savings.
  2. Staying with the “savings” idea, why not create a savings leader of the day board where you track which customer saved the most money that day. Award the top three customers with a gift card or another special gift. Remember, it does not have to be a large amount, you’re simply trying to make them feel special. You could push this out even further by tracking the daily winners across an entire month where you then make an even bigger deal out of the monthly finalists. Take their photos and put them on a wall with the amounts they saved. Not only will you be making the check out experience funner, you will also be reinforcing your value image.
  3. Remember the balloon pop game that you played at the carnival as a kid? You know, the one with darts; you threw the dart, hopefully popped a balloon and then got the prize under/in the balloon? Why not replicate this game or come up with something like it where customers get an opportunity to participate every time they shop your store or when they spend a certain amount?
  4. Make a special game for the kids. Depending upon your type of business, many times shoppers end up bringing their children with them. Take advantage of this situation and show the parents that you care about their kids too. Hold coloring contests, set up a treasure hunt, or play trivia over your PA system.
  5. Create a secret club and for your most loyal shoppers. The secret part is absolutely critical. Why? First, it helps your these customers feel a special sense of achievement. Second, think about the power of reverse psychology – by telling your secret club members not to talk about the club, they will be way more likely to talk about it. Reward them with a special club card and give them exclusive benefits when they shop with you. What might those special benefits be? It can be about anything – special hours, extend sale dates/hours/days, free items, etc. Talk to your shoppers and find out what rewards would really matter to them.

These are simply five ideas to help you get started. Look at your store, your customers, and the opportunities you have to turn a boring or routine shopping experience into something fun. What could you do without spending any additional money or for a small investment? What if you had a moderate or large amount of money to invest in making your business fun, what would you do?


3 thoughts on “Game On: 5 Ways to Make Your Shopping Experience Funner

  1. I use a grocery savings system that’s literally called The Grocery Game. I bring this up not to promote The Grocery Game necessarily, but to point out that you’re really onto something about making grocery shopping feel like a game that you can “win.” The Grocery Game is a service that connects up available manufacturer and store coupons with existing sales, then compares the possible savings against a price database to produce a list of the Most Kickass Sales Per Week. In many cases there are ways to stack promotions such that the item becomes free or nearly free. It makes grocery shopping feel like a big scavenger hunt, essentially capturing the feeling of your ideas #1, #2, and #5 but without any help from the store itself. And of course, it is way fun to walk out of there having saved 50% (at least) on every grocery bill. Look at how insanely happy these people are about their Grocery Game successes:

    Now if STORES would catch on to some of that fun, as you suggest, shopping would be a real party!

    1. Jen,

      I really appreciate your comments and ideas. I dropped on by the link you shared and it was definitely inspiring. This topic is absolutely rich in possibilities, not only for grocery stores but for all of retail. The other day, I was shopping at a local grocery store and I ran into one possible idea. They always print the customer’s “savings” at the bottom of their receipts. For a time, their cashiers would circle the amount and say something like, “Wow! You saved $4 today.” Being that I work in this industry, I thought is was cute, but it always seemed trivial to me. But then I realized something important, what if they turned this into a fun game – perhaps they should develop a “biggest saver” game board where they can run a daily, weekly or monthly contest to show who saved the most in that store. Not only would they be creating a little excitement around what they do every day, they would also be subtly sharing a nice “value” message with their entire clientele.

      I love your “scavenger hunt” approach to this. What you are doing is definitely unique and this service is a huge value. Kudos to you for your creativity. It would definitely be interesting to see what could happen if a store looked at what you are doing and how it could either tie into the service or reexamined how they do ads. You really have me rethinking a bunch of stuff.

      Thanks so much for sharing,


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