Blog How e-commerce apps are engaging users w...

How e-commerce apps are engaging users with gamification

App users love games; in fact, gaming has the most downloads of any vertical in mobile in 2021. And successful apps across all categories have taken note and incorporated game techniques in order to boost user engagement, from Duolingo in education to MyFitnessPal in fitness. While gamification itself isn’t new, it’s increasingly becoming an important technique for e-commerce apps looking to boost customer loyalty and revenue.

What is gamification and how can it help e-commerce apps?

In a mobile app, gamification is the introduction of game mechanics into a non-gaming app in order to better engage users. The most commonly-used game mechanics are rules and rewards that encourage users to take certain actions within the app and achieve certain aims, such as points, levels, and badges. These techniques tap into natural human tendencies for competition, achievement, and collaboration. Popular gamification techniques for e-commerce apps include:

  • Points systems and rewards programs
  • Daily bonuses
  • Badges
  • Spin-to-win and scratch-offs
  • Trivia or product quiz
  • Competitions, such as giveaways on social media
  • Countdown clocks
  • Scavenger hunts
  • Progress bar during check-out

When properly designed and applied, these techniques can generate emotions such as intrigue, excitement, and achievement in users. When coupled with material benefits such as discounts, they provide a powerful combination to increase customer enjoyment and user engagement. M-commerce developers can harness this to trigger, encourage, and reward the specific user behaviors that help meet business objectives.

Loyalty points and rewards are an effective way to improve customer loyalty and increase retention rates by incentivizing users to regularly return to an app. Product trivia and quizzes can be used to educate users on product offerings and make recommendations, as well as to collect customer data to help personalize their experience. And gamifying the browsing and checkout experience with rewards and offers, a progress bar, and/or time constraints or a countdown game can help add urgency to decrease cart abandonment — a major problem for e-commerce apps, with an average abandonment rate of over 85%.

The e-commerce space is constantly growing, evolving and adapting to the needs and expectations of consumers on mobile. Learn about all of the latest developments, along with benchmarks and industry analyses for your e-commerce app in Adjust’s latest report: E-commerce App Report 2021: Top trends in mobile shopping with insights from Sensor Tower.

In-app gamification for e-commerce: 3 examples


Chinese fast fashion retailer Shein has rocketed to success in recent years, surpassing brands such as H&M to become the world’s largest online-only retailer and accounting for 28% of the fast-fashion market in the US alone. Shein has become extremely popular, especially among younger Generation Z consumers, largely thanks to influencer marketing, low prices, and gamification.

Shein uses a points system to engage users and encourage them to perform certain activities within the app. These points can be redeemed for a discount of up to 70% of an order, at a rate of $1 for 100 points. Points can be gained by verifying your email address, checking in on the app every day for 7 straight days, or posting a review on a product. Shein also blends gamification with a social component by rewarding users for participating in “outfit contests,” where users post photos of themselves in an outfit they’ve put together from items purchased in the app.


Wanting to boost opt-ins to their mailing list, French cosmetics brand Clarins decided to utilize gamification with a roulette-style wheel game called the Beauty Wheel. Similar to the classic Wheel of Fortune television game show, users would “spin the wheel” to receive discounts on their favorite products. Clarins identified users who would likely engage with the game and funneled traffic to a site where users could participate. The game drove a huge boost in LTV, Retention and ROAS for new users, and Clarins achieved an impression-to-lead ratio of 45%, significantly higher than then industry average.


Gamification propelled Alibaba-Group owned AliExpress to be one of the most popular e-commerce platforms in the world. The AliExpress app allows users to earn and compete for digital in-app coins, which can be exchanged for coupons. Users get one coin for each day they launch the app, and coins can be earned by partaking in daily tasks, such as leaving a comment or clicking ‘like’ on a store. These tasks change daily to prevent users from getting bored. The app also contains a section with standalone games; Lucky Forest allows users to win coins through consistent actions such as watering a virtual tree, while Coins Park gives users a chance to gamble their coins to win more coins or coupons.

To learn more about the latest trends in m-commerce, download our E-commerce App Report 2021. Featuring insights from Sensor Tower, the report analyzes key marketing metrics such as in-app revenue, reattribution rates, eCPI, and retention rates across the m-commerce vertical.

Be the first to know. Subscribe for monthly app insights.