Bluefly Adds Badges to Make Shopping More Like Games

Bluefly, a small publicly held online clothing retailer, is experimenting with adding game mechanics to its site to reward shoppers who watch videos, create wishlists, write reviews or read blog posts.

To do so, New York-based Bluefly partnered with Menlo Park-based Badgeville, which is focused on bringing game mechanics to retail, entertainment, media and other categories.

This falls under the heading of “gamification,” which operates on the premise that humans are often motivated by rewards (even if they aren’t worth much).

For retailers or others, the motivation is to make an experience that can be fun and provide reasons to stick around.

The techniques can be traced back to other companies, such as Zynga, the maker of social games on Facebook, or Foursquare.

Foursquare awards badges to people who check into restaurants and other businesses. If you check-in more than anyone else, you can become a fictitious mayor — which may earn you a free beer, but often not much else. Likewise, Zynga rewards users who harvest crops on time, or interact with other players, by advancing them to the next level.

In an interview earlier this year, Kris Duggan, Badgeville’s CEO and co-founder, said they’ve identified three mechanics that Zynga has become very successful in using:

  • Personal motivators: This is an achievement. Someone has done something that deserves rewarding.
  • Friend and social graph motivators: This is essentially peer pressure. A friend has done something, why don’t you?
  • Group motivators: This is competition. If you come back two more times a week, you’ll do it more than anyone else.

The Bluefly game works like this:

The more badges shoppers earn, the more they will be rewarded with early access to products, special deals and discounts. While those are tangible benefits, sometimes it’s only for bragging rights or recognition.

Badgeville, which is about a year old, has also worked with Moxsie.com, a boutique online retailer. Its other customers include Philly.com, which uses it to engage with its readers. Badgeville charges an annual fee to use its service.

Many of the company’s investors have ties to e-commerce, including former senior executives at eBay, PayPal, Chegg.com, Shopping.com and Drugstore.com.


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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus