Got game? These retailers do

In the face of growing competition from e-commerce platforms, Chinese malls are integrating online-to-offline strategies that jazz up the shopping experience of Chinese millennials with elements of gamification.

During the Chinese New Year break in 2017, Japanese retail company UNIQLO launched a two-week campaign with Alipay, which sent customers a virtual hong bao (or red packet filled with money) whenever they approached a UNIQLO store. The catch: they would have to enter the store and scan a UNIQLO logo with the Alipay app on their phones to redeem coupons and cash.

Alibaba had also experimented with using new technologies such as augmented reality (AR) to engage customers in their shopping experience. This included releasing a Pokemon Go-like AR mobile game in its app where gamers could follow a cat mascot via their smartphones for prizes and coupons which could be used in selected stores.

Coined as the “new retail” system by Alibaba founder Jack Ma, this retail concept that blends entertainment and consumption is also being employed by brands online. In the lead-up to the annual online shopping event Singles Day in 2018, which raked in a whopping S$42.2 billion in sales, Alibaba broadcast a countdown gala with celebrities such as Mariah Carey, encouraging viewers to “watch now, buy now” in real time from the comfort of their homes.

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