BOSTON, MA: Nine in ten US retailers are planning to use gamification tactics over the next five years as they seek to leverage their CRM programs to engage and motivate their customers.

According to the 2015 CRM/Unified Commerce Survey, produced by consulting firm Boston Retail Partners on the basis of an online survey of more than 500 top North American retailers, last year just 6% had utilised gamification within their loyalty or frequent shopper programs, rising to 31% this year.

Within the next two years a further 31% expected to implement such tactics as rewarding users with points or badges in exchange for store visits, purchases or watching product videos, while 25% had a longer 3-5 year timetable.

Other popular routes to engagement included personalised selling and social media.

Ultimately, said Boston Retail Partners, a successful CRM program is built on a "closed-loop system" that identifies customers, engages them, analyses behaviours in real-time, and retains them with superior service and loyalty programs.

"The key to influencing a customer's purchase and offering a personalised experience is to identify the customer early, as soon as they enter the store," Ken Morris, principal, Boston Retail Partners, told Mobile Commerce Daily.

"However, in many cases, customer identification is happening at the point of checkout, which is too late to influence a current purchase decision."

And that is another significant development the research established, as within five years more than 50% of retailers plan to identify customers when they walk into the store.

Once identified, "sales associates should be supported with real-time customer information and analytics that enable them to tailor the experience to each customer's personal preferences and recent purchases and online browsing history," said Morris.

"Once customers opt-in or tune-in to your brand, retailers can create a level of intimacy never before possible."

Data sourced from Boston Retail Partners, Mobile Commerce Daily; additional content by Warc staff