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Melbourne-founded startup Arcade helps retailers keep sales staff engaged through gamification

As nearly everyone who has ever worked in retail can attest, the job can be boring, repetitive, and testing when customers decide to try your patience, which can make staying engaged and giving it your all difficult. Of course, that poses a problem for employers.

Cofounded by David Cherrie and James McLaren, Melbourne-born platform Arcade helps retailers keep their sales staff engaged and motivated through gamification of employee goals, recognition, and rewards.   

As Cherrie put it, the drive to start Arcade came because it’s “my story”.

“When I first started as a retail associate I was highly engaged and a top performer, but as I grew more comfortable at work, I became complacent and less productive. By gamifying our sales goals, my team and I started to re-engage and put in more effort. This transformed our team culture and within a few months, our store was the highest performing store in the company,” Cherrie said.

“I believe that every employee, regardless of their industry, has potential that is often suppressed because they don’t feel like it matters whether they engage or not. This is why I started Arcade, to give every company the solution they need to ensure their people know that they matter and that their effort at work is valued.”

After coming up with the idea, Cherrie said Arcade began work on a basic iteration of the platform – “what our investor David Evans calls our BMVP, barely minimum viable product – and found a couple of stores willing to work with the startup to help develop Arcade.

“It was really a process of learning from how our users interacted (or tried to), what their feedback was, and ultimately, what was leading to clear success for the customer, a sales lift in-store,” Cherrie said.

As it currently works, employees are given daily goals each morning, and win rewards as they get closer to reaching them, Cherrie explained. They also are given a star each week that they award to a coworker of their choice, with each awarding of a star put on the Arcade newsfeed so everyone can engage with the post.

As employees hit their goals, receive stars, and complete quizzes, they accumulate points which can then be redeemed by the Arcade gift store, which houses various gift cards and experiences. Retailers themselves can also add in their own custom rewards, or merge in their existing employee rewards program.

Meanwhile, employers set the goals and can interact with their employees and track their progress towards the set goals at every level, including districts or states, Cherrie said.

They can also distribute real-time recognition and rewards to employees. They’re able to share live polls to get feedback from their staff, assign training quizzes and most importantly create instant contests between stores related to their sales and service goals,” he explained.

Arcade is targeting retailers with 50 sales associates or more, with Cherrie explaining these understand the difficulty of keeping their employees highly engaged.

“They know that engagement is vital to the customer experience in their stores. We discuss with them their needs and support them to roll out Arcade into a region of stores where they can assess the value it brings to their organisation,” he said.

“Almost every retailer has their employees using a free chat application to communicate between stores and engage their workforce, but it’s painfully inadequate. Whether retailers admit it or not, their retail workers are currently using consumer social apps for engaging and connecting that are the root of a lot of HR nightmares. We solve this in Arcade by providing the company with a safe, secure and holistic solution to engage and connect with their workforce.”

Having grown out of Melbourne, the startup soon began looking to the US for further growth.  

“When we first started, it was clear that the market in Australia was going to be a great place for validation, and the American market was the place for growth. As soon as we got our first customers in Australia, we opened up our sales office in the US,” Cherrie said.

Opening an office in Dallas, Texas, the startup focused on finding a network of people, from advisors to investors, who know the market and retail space. Through this it found the RevTech accelerator and fund, which is focused on retail technology startups, and brought on funding .

“We found that RevTech had incredibly valuable expertise, great retail connections and, most importantly, a clear vision for innovating the retail space globally,” Cherrie said.

The startup had originally tried out San Francisco as its American base before heading to Dallas.

As Cherrie put it, “The best part about Dallas is the people. There is a wealth of talented people in Dallas that want to work in exciting spaces and build game-changing companies. Its cost of living is also far less than San Francisco…and its geographical centricity to the rest of the US means we can fly anywhere in just a couple of hours.”

Beyond traditional retail, Cherrie said Arcade also has clients across the car sales, pop up sales, door to door sales, and multi-level market spaces; among its clients are Toyota, Snooze, and Under Armour.

“We’ve also had companies ask for Arcade in the service industry, especially in casual dining and hotels, so we see that as another big opportunity,” he said.

With all this in mind, Cherrie said Arcade has “big growth goals for 2018 all round”; on the cards is raising a round of funding, and doubling quarterly sales.

Image: David Cherrie. Source: Supplied.

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