Augmented Reality Shifts Battle With Amazon From Price To 'Wow' Experiences In-Store

There is a lesson in GAME's recent experience that all marketers and retailers would do well to learn. In fact, going into administration in 2012 was probably all the proof GAME needed that you cannot compete with Amazon on the high street through price alone. Thus, the gaming retailer has come back fitter and stronger with a dedication to provide what an online discounter cannot -- a compelling in-store experience.

Insight and Marketing Director Fred Prego discussed UK retailer's new post-administration strategy with delegates at last week's Festival of Marketing in London. The crucial point was that nobody can take on Amazon on price alone. If you want to get people into your high street stores, you have to give them a compelling reason. For GAME, the answer was not just to sponsor huge gaming conventions, but to bring multiplayer experiences and augmented reality right into its own stores.

And that's exactly what it has just done. The obvious point about multiplayer gaming is that, of course, it's a social event that can be hosted within a GAME store. The retailer has taken it a step further with the launch of a Games Arena at its Manchester store. It's an entire level dedicated to multiplayer gaming, with a games arcade thrown in for good measure. It's basically a compelling reason to visit the store, play games against other fans, play on arcade machines and maybe even give VR gaming a go too. It has been a huge success, and is now due to be rolled out in 10 other UK stores over the coming couple of months. According to Prego, profits are up by 10% in the Manchester store already, and PC sales -- an area it had struggled with in the past -- have shot up too.

The jewel in the crown of its new strategy, however, has to be its new app. It allows users to scan games titles and preview the game (cheekily they can order it from GAME, even if they are in a rival's store) and the augmented reality feature. This allows gamers to pose for selfies next to their favourite games characters when they are in-store and even turns shop windows into gaming screens. I have to admit I have not tried it, but from a video demonstration, it looked like a lot of fun.

So it will vary from one retail brand to another, but the premise is pretty simple. It's impossible to take Amazon on through price alone. Retailers that will survive need to offer expert advice in-store and let customers enjoy "wow" moments that make them glad they popped in. Then there's a mental note to go back another time and pick up an item from the shop rather than just click on the Amazon app icon on their home screen.

if you aren't yet wondering how augmented reality or your mobile app (typically both) could help your brand achieve this, then it's a good time to get started, because Amazon isn't holding back. Its grocery service shows that it is quite literally out to steal any competitor's lunch. Get working on making your customers say "wow" and you will have the best defence possible.

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