A Cashier Game Worth Playing

1337198731859_7eb92 male balck cashierGamification speakers and authors regularly cite Target’s cashier game as a prime example of gamification in retail. While most of what Target is doing is not new to those of us who have worked in retail, it is the addition of immediate feedback to a traditional timed task tracking system that gamification pundits have latched on to. In the original blog post, the Target cashier interviewed said that the immediate feedback feature made it feel like a game.

We don’t see the Target cashier game as either a game or gamification.

When you think of the “carrot and stick” analogy for motivation, we see traditional work standards systems as being “stick” oriented – meet the prescribed work standards or else face the consequences.

In our work we seek to use games and gamification to encourage behaviors that enhance the overall brand of the retail organization. While performance and productivity are important, so is the engagement, growth and skills acquisition of individual associates and their teams. They are the brand ambassadors of the retail organization and they must know how to deliver on the promise of the brand.

(Retail Rant: just last weekend I was shopping at a local outlet of a major retail chain where cashiers scanned items and collected payments leaving the customers to pack their bags. In our situation, while the customers fussed with their purchases removing them from the belt and packing them, the cashier stood and watched and waited for them to finish so that she could then start the next transaction. She did not do or say anything to help in the process – her job was done when she handed the customer their receipt. Granted that the brand is all about self service, the checkout experience leaves a bad impression.)

Let’s look at the gamification opportunity in a little more detail. For cashiers, the traditional performance measurement has been speed. Cashiers must scan items at a predetermined rate. Workforce planning tools are then used to create work schedules that optimize the number of cashiers required to meet predicted customer traffic patterns. Any slowdown in cashier performance results in long queues and angry shoppers at checkout.

There is so much more that cashiers can and should do to enhance the overall customer experience and brand. For example, they could:

  • Recognize frequent shoppers and thank them for their patronage
  • Know products and product lookup codes for non-scanned items
  • Know the best processes for handling coupons
  • Know the POS keyboard, exception keys and processes (think this is obvious? just check the number of people searching the internet for a crash course in how to use a POS terminal)
  • Know whom to call for different customer service situations
  • Be excellent baggers

These are all policies and processes for which we can use game techniques to train, reinforce and motivate cashiers to achieve the broader, brand oriented goals.

In addition, we can recognize our cashiers for their service by rewarding milestone achievements that reinforce brand objectives. Like checking out their 1,000th customer. Or ringing up $1M in sales. Or getting 500 customer “Likes.”

And finally, to create a true cashier game experience, we can combine experience points, milestone achievements, level-up opportunities and a reward structure to end up with a motivational game system that rewards growth, achievements, teamwork and longevity on the job. Configured properly, this would be a game worth playing.

Stuart Silverman

About The Author

Stuart Silverman has designed, installed and marketed the full spectrum of systems used to provide competitive edge for retail organizations.

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