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The Game Group was one of several high profile retailers that ran into financial difficulties in the past few years, eventually entering administration back in March 2012.
However under new ownership as Game Retail Ltd and with a renewed focus on omnichannel retailing the company expected to make £20m profit in the year ending July 31 2013.
To find out more about the business’ omnichannel strategy and plans for future growth I spoke to insight and reward director Fred Prego, who will also be speaking at Econsultancy’s JUMP event on October 9.
JUMP is all about creating seamless multichannel customer experiences. Now in its fourth year, the event will be attended by more than 1,200 senior client-side marketers. This year it forms part of our week-long Festival of Marketing extravaganza.
Game ran into financial problems last year. How does omnichannel retailing fit into the plans for future growth?
Game Retail Ltd is a new company, with a clear and simple strategy - to build the UK’s most valuable community of gamers. Our focus is on omnichannel retail with each channel supporting the others.
Our 320 stores are a vital channel for delivering the physical experience that millions of gamers want every week.
That’s supported by online communities, and web and online technologies that overlap with our store estate and through our award-winning app.
How are Game’s brick-and-mortar stores an advantage to the business when competing with pureplay online retailers?
Our stores allow us to offer something that online-only retailers cannot – a rich in-store experience.
Our hugely popular store activity - from lock-ins for a first play of a new title, to midnight launches of the latest games and consoles - provide some of the best events and theatre on the high street and enable us to offer the kind of exclusive experiences to our customers that online retailers simply can’t offer.
And for those less au fait with the world of gaming, our store teams offer peace of mind – customers can come in store and get unparalleled advice and service from real experts.
How do you think your multichannel retail model will develop over the next few years? Can you envisage Game ever becoming an online-only retailer?
We are absolutely driven by the wants and needs of the UK gaming communities and right now they are telling us that the in-store experience is vital.
We’re developing that and offering them exactly what they want – and we’ll continue to do that.
Last year Game began streaming video game demos online. Do you envisage that digital downloads will become more important for the business going forward?
They already are. The digital market will continue to grow and our commitment to digital will grow with that. Digital will be a vital part of the future of gaming and we are working closely with gamers and our partners to make sure we stay at the forefront of videogames retailing.
How do you connect offline and online sales? Or are they still treated as entirely separate sales channels?
It goes back to omnichannel retailing. We are focused on delivering for the gaming community in whatever way they want – that means delivering for them in-store, through our website, our app, through digital and on social media.
It’s not enough to think about online and offline – they are all different parts of the same world. We aim to be present in every arena and deliver the same brand experience and a seamless service for every customer regardless of channel.
To what extent does your mobile loyalty app enable you to create a single customer view? Or is this something you are still working towards?
Our app was launched in record time towards the end of last year and sits at the centre of our channel strategy.
Over the past 12 months we have continued to add new features - you can now use the app to earn and burn reward points, find out the trade in value of your games, buy PSN and Xbox Live points, view the latest charts and buy online via our m-commerce site.
Our aim is for the app to be Game in your pocket and we are well on our way there. But we know the work never stops – we will continue to listen to the gaming community and develop our app to best suit their needs.
Similarly, are you able to use the mobile data to personalise the online experience when customers are using a desktop computer?
We have an incredible wealth of data and we are using this to shape our customer offering in all arenas. All our data is linked - our data shows that customers use multiple channels for different purposes depending on where they are and what they are doing.
This is why a true omnichannel offering is so important for us. The key is to be timely, relevant and personalised.
What steps have you taken to deal with showrooming customers?
The community sit at the heart of everything we do and our customer research shows that price is only one consideration; what our community really values is incredible content, exclusives and experiences.
We listen to the community and work very closely with our publisher partners to obtain the very best exclusives and deliver the very best in-store events to create excitement and give gamers the unique experience and content that they want.
We also offer the bundles which gamers want, special when-bought-with offers, a variety of ways to pay (including our expansive trade-in proposition) and our award-winning Reward strategy. In short, we have adapted our high-street channel to do something online cannot do.