This talk was given by Sree Menon, Head of Strategy of Tophatter at SaaS Connect 2018 in San Francisco, May 1-2, 2018. Get the slides

“Gamification” is a word that we’re hearing more and more in eCommerce.

Sree Menon, now COO of Tophatter, shared her company’s experience with gamification with the SaaS Connect audience, why they chose that route and how they made it work.

Here’s what businesses hoping to gamify their platforms should take away.

Why did Tophatter turn to gamification?

Not every app is suited to a gamified model. So, take the time to understand whether the model actually fits in with what your business is trying to achieve, the culture of you and your users, and what you hope to achieve.

For Tophatter, gamification fits in perfectly with their mission: building the shopping destination for the mobile era — a live, entertaining discovery experience that gets better each time you use it.

What makes gamification successful?

For one, it’s fun. Tophatter operates like a treasure hunt. Users can scroll through more than 100 live auctions. This makes it feel less like shopping or running errands and more like a game.

It also bypasses some initial buyer hesitance. Products go quickly, in 90 seconds. This time constraint makes people want to act quickly instead of pausing to think about a purchase. The average selling price is $10 to 20, so it feels like a relatively low-stakes gamble.

How does Tophatter’s gamification model work?

An algorithm called an auto-scheduler selects products that the customer sees each time they open the app. This is filtered down to 20,000 to 50,000 products every day.

Some of the factors that the algorithm takes into account are shipping speed, product rating and category mix.

Why does gamification work?

It captures the attention of users where they are. People spend five hours per day on smartphones, and mobile now represents around 50 percent of eCommerce.

But the fun aspect is equally important. Eighty percent of top-grossing Android apps are games. People want to play and have fun, and gamification turns things that might not ordinarily be fun into something engaging and exciting.

How does gamification affect a business’s bottom line?

Gamification drives conversion rates. Here are just some of the results Tophatter has seen:

  • More than 15 percent of daily visitors complete a purchase that day.
  • Conversion rates are five to 10 times industry rates, and approaching brick and mortar retail rates of 20 percent.
  • Conversion rates had doubled in the three years leading up to Sree’s talk.

How do you gamify the mobile experience?

What separates a successful gamification app from a failed one? Mobile apps should keep these core traits at the center of their design:

  • Real-time
  • Push-based
  • Entertaining
  • Data-driven
  • Personal

Finally, remember that people want to have fun. If you can provide that for them, they’ll come.