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What can retailers learn from Candy Crush?


Four in every 10 UK online retail sales are now completed on tablet or smartphone devices, as m-commerce increasingly becomes retail’s r’aison d’être.


But for the purpose of this article, Retail Gazette is looking at tablets and smartphones for the apps. What could a retailer learn from apps? Well..


Tinder – they want it right now

It’s been over two years since the launch of dating app Tinder, causing the world to pause and analyse instant gratification. Some say it isn’t healthy, but that doesn’t matter; as Paul Roberts puts it in his book The Impulse Society “our entire consumer culture has elevated immediate gratification to life’s primary goal”.


The Tinder generation isn’t patient, it’s why Starbucks launched wireless charging in store and John Lewis opened a click-and-commute point at St Pancras railway station.


Tinder bridges the gap between digital and physical dating, enabling users to feel instantly gratified, click-and-collect services can do the same for online and physical shopping.


“Giving the customer greater control in terms of how they receive goods, extends the customer relationship with the brand to include the last mile,” explains Paddy Earnshaw, Chief Customer Officer at Doddle, the parcel shop business run by Britain’s railway infrastructure firm Network Rail.


There is an inherent element of delayed gratification in the online shopping experience, particularly with missed deliveries which see customers jump through hoops to get them. Enter Doddle, with changing rooms that allow consumers to ‘buy it and try it straight away’ (in many cases wearing collected goods right out of Doddle stores), and in-store iPads to encourage shoppers to order alternative sizes immediately.


“We’re currently looking at future versions of our app,” says Earnshaw, “one area we’re investing in is beacon technology, which would alert our staff to a customer who’s on their way, giving them time to have the parcel ready on for their arrival” – just what today’s time-poor Tinder type needs. “Equally if that customer came within range of the store, we’d be able to ping a message to let them know that they had a parcel waiting, and ask if they’d want to collect it now or later” he adds.


Customers’ need for instant gratification is evident in the time taken to collect parcels from a Doddle store which was found to be significantly low. “Where we expected customers to leave parcels with us for 2.5 days before collecting, the average dwell time is in fact, between 0.7 - 0.9 days. The fastest collection we’ve had is around 40 seconds - proof that consumers want their parcels instantly” Earnshaw comments.


If retailers want to satisfy the demand for instant gratification, 24/7 customer care wouldn’t go amiss, but with a more efficient execution of deliveries and returns, a need for the former might not be so apparent.


Candy crush – play the game

Candy Crush, the video game developed and published by King, has become the stuff of dreams for commuters, procrastinating students and even a bored MP.


Its sweet story includes golden cash cow status, having valuated at more than $7bn at its IPO last March. At the time, Candy Crush Saga’s number of daily active users was 97m but within a few short months this number was falling, and so were shares. So what did King do? It released another game. Following the launch of Candy Crush Soda Saga in November 2014, the mobile gaming publisher made it to the next level, generating $546m in its fourth quarter.


King turned over more than $1bn in cash at the end of last year, “with literally no debt and very insignificant liabilities,” Hope Cochran, King’s CFO said at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media and Telecom conference earlier this month. “Our balance sheet right now is something that I love to look at” she added.


Gamification can be defined as “the application of game psychology, game mechanics and techniques applied to non-game situations to improve results and engagement” explains David Eldridge, CEO at 3radical – a marketing platform that uses gamification.


The term means that there are opportunities available for retailers to cash in on Candy Crush’s success and increase customer loyalty; Harrods is a case in point. At the end of summer last year, the lux department store launched its £30m ‘Shoe Heaven’ department, with which came ‘Stiletto Wars’, a game that could be accessed from within the downloadable Harrods magazine app, and gave players the chance to win prizes. It was based on Candy Crush and recorded 1.3m screen views, pushing shoe sales up by 58% on the previous year as a result of attracting new customers in-store.


Following Stiletto Wars and Harrods’ second game ‘Never Mind the Baubles’ in time for Christmas, at the National Retail Federation earlier this year, Guy Cheston, Harrods’ Media Sales Director commented: “we believe in gamification and are now looking to do more games in 2015”.



He continued, “the store has been in existence since the 1830s and is more successful today than at any time in its history, we have learned to constantly reinvent and create, you can’t stand still, you need to keep innovating.”


Since gamification encourages engagement, it could also be applied to employee training which may lead to higher retention and completion rates.


If it’s good enough for Harrods…


Shazam – customers like to take it personally

In a club, a café and even a hardware store, music recognition app Shazam is able to identify the song playing overhead. It “magically connects people to the world around them” and has over 100m monthly mobile active users.


Customers like a personal touch. Why? Because they like to feel special. When ordering coffee, some like decaf, others skimmed milk, soy milk or almond milk. When a business listens to consumers’ specific desires and makes an effort to cater for them, it makes that customer feel good.


Shazam started out as the universal answer to “who sings this song again?” but at the end of 2014 Shazam really listened to the consumers, in more ways than one, announcing a major app update to include personalised music news and real-time trending songs from friends and artists that users had previously Shazamed. Recognising opportunities, it recently announced a partnership with Gimbal which means when launched, consumers will be able to Shazam ‘things’ and ‘places’. The move increases opportunities for brands, advertisers and media owners to offer a more personalised experience for users through beacon technology.


Retail Gazette asked Mike Harris, VP EMEA at Monetate, a provider in multichannel personalisation for a definition of personalisation. He describes it as “the ability to deliver a contextually relevant experience and content to a consumer in real-time.”


It involves “delivering differentiated digital experiences for customers based on attributes such as behaviour, historical purchase and browsing data, referring sources, device type and location” “Brands need to maximise all the data they have to provide a personalised experience. This should include customer data from CRM systems, data gained from previous activity on the website, as well as third party data – all of this can be used to tailor the experience for each customer,” Harris adds.


A Prime example of a retailer that capitalises on data is Amazon, which customises visits using shopping data (and generated $89bn last year by the way). The online giant’s business model is based on additional recommendations.


In the short term, a personalised campaign can deliver boosts to conversion rates, but ultimately, super relevance can provide lasting customer value.


If in doubt of personalisation’s potential, retailers should look at Shop Direct’s latest valuations. It recently launched fully personalised homepages of which there are now 1.2m different versions, leading Shop Direct to expect an additional £20m in sales this year.


MyLanguage Translator Pro – don’t get lost in translation

MyLanguage Translator Pro is an app that includes over 50 supported languages which, due to the community based nature of the app, is sure to increase. It actively encourages users to request new translation. Most saliently, the app also draws from a huge community of native speakers to improve current translations.


Commerce is inherently global but there’s no one size fits all approach to it. Translation is paramount to international retail expansion but transcreation, to keep the intrinsic style and context of a message, is fundamental in successfully implementing an global footprint.


Retail giants including Apple and Nike speak to customers on a global scale, and content is carefully translated to ensure no-one in an emerging market is accidentally offended. But where a customer lives doesn’t necessarily determine their native language. There are a large number of expats in several countries (take Dubai for example) where users might want content in their native language but with prices in local currencies. Online fashion giant Asos demonstrates this. The e-tailer’s success is not solely down to its home market. In fact at the end of last month, while the retailer’s website had 3.7m domestic customers, around 5.6m were located internationally.


So what considerations are there for retailers?


Open Reply is a creative digital agency with clients such as Monsoon, Gucci and Valentino. They work with luxury brands to creative digital platforms, such as websites and apps and Julian Douch, a Partner said:


“One consideration is ecommerce design. Retailers have to pay a lot of attention to this where languages such as Russian and German elongate the length of copy by 1.5 times in comparison to English, so the right design of button widths etc. needs attention. In addition, action words in English do not translate to the same level of intent and immediacy in other languages, so an alternative translation needs to be found.


Also, some countries require more than just copy translations. Arab countries for example have copy reading right to left so this requires a complete design rethink.


Retailers mustn’t forget that SEO rewards local composed content. Search engines pick up on literal translations and better reward pages with locally written content.”

Published on Thursday 26 March by Veebs Sabharwal

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