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The Gamification of Business – Example of Kurasushi in Japan

March 17th, 2011 · 2 Comments · Ideas

Big Ideas:

  • Businesses are increasingly using games to improve the customer experience and productivity.
  • Kurasushi in Japan offers a perfect example of how the restaurant experience can be transformed through simple gaming elements.

The Gamification of Business: Example of Kurasushi in Japan

One of the funnest places I have ever eaten is Kurasushi in Japan. The popular Japanese chain a a perfect example of how to turn business more into a game to enhance the customer experience, excitement and even lower costs.

Kurasushi is a kaiten, rotating sushi bar, where the sushi streams by on rotating belts throughout the restaurant. Kurasushi has taken the experience to new levels with a touch panel ordering system and plate collector that counts how many sushi dishes you have eaten.

Not only does this reduce the staff needed to take special orders and deliver the food, but Kurasushi also turns it into a game by giving users a chance to win a small prize after every five plates dropped into the collector.

Even though the prizes are small and not particularly interesting, it is a lot of fun to drop the plates and play the game to see if you win or not.

Here is an explanation of the image above.

1. Prize Dispenser – The available prizes are above every table in a clear box so that it is completely visible to everyone. You can easily see other tables win.

2. Touch Panel – Here you can order fresh dishes and other items like miso soup or deserts. It is also turns into a simple game after every five dishes dropped in the plate collector slot. Users have to chose one of three choices and variations of a slot machine type of game are displayed, slowing revealing if you have won or not.

3. Custom Order Belt – This is a special high speed belt that delivers food on a special train to specific tables. When your order arrives it starts beeping to notify you and there is a button to press to signal that you have finished taking your sushi plates off of the train. It is actually a lot of fun to see the train quickly pull up to your table and then return after it is finished.

4. Main Sushi Belt – This is the main rotating sushi belt where sushi is delivered in a steady stream to every table in the restaurant.

5. Plate Collector Slot – This is where you drop finished plates to be tallied on the touch panel display. When you are finished eating, there is a button to press to call a staff member over to give you your final bill.

The Future is Games

In a previous post, Games Can Make the World a Better Place, I have included a couple of great videos highlighting the potential of games to improve our lives. There are many examples listed in that post but here are some more ideas.

Contests and loyalty programs like airmiles or credit card rebates are common but there is still a lot of room for companies to improve the user experience through gaming elements.

Salespeople are typically motivated with incentives and publicly displayed sales records. Customer service staff compete for the most positive reviews. Manufacturing firms monitor product defects and on-time deliveries. Geo-based location services like Foursquare and Gowalla encourage repeat business. However, those measures are just scraping the surface of the possibilities to gamify our business and lives.

Restaurants could have loyalty programs that reward customers who have ordered the most dishes. Regular customers could be given special tables and items not on the menu.

Department stores could have in store treasure hunts where customers have to locate items throughout the store. To increase environmental awareness, they couldĀ  have contests to guess how many plastic bags are used by the company every year.

Toy stores could have receipts with special numbers that give online characters special powers in competitions against the characters of other customers. Kids would want to buy more things in the store to increase their character’s abilities.

Airlines could have in flight seat raffles while waiting for passengers to board. This might make the wait actually enjoyable and encourage passengers to get to the plane earlier.

Authors could have contests where users have to find mistakes in new manuscripts.

With mobile phone scannable QR codes, it is possible to link real life to the Internet. The possibilities really are endless.

Action Items

  • How can you turn you business more into a game?
  • Can you get customers competing against each other for more status or recognition?
  • Can you get employees working together to come up with new ideas or ways to increase profitability?

Links
Gamification on Wikipedia
The Gamification Encyclopedia
The Gamification Blog
Fun is the Future: Mastering Gamification – Youtube video
The Future is a Video Game – Canadian Business Article

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