Through a special arrangement, what follows is a summary of an article from Retail Paradox, RSR Research's weekly analysis on emerging issues facing retailers, presented here for discussion.
Starbucks presents a prime example of the convergence going on between gift cards, loyalty programs, and mobile wallets. But the popularity of e-gift cards continues to show how important "gifting' is as part of the retail experience.
You'd think that would be a no-brainer, right? If you're a retailer that specializes in products that are high on the gifting list, you'd want to be all over enabling gifts. But I am constantly amazed by retailers with high gifting synergies who treat the gifting category like something they must grudgingly do in answer to the demands from those annoying people who keep asking for wish lists and gift guides and support for gift cards.
Here, a few ways to make gifting a more valued part of a store's capabilities:
Embrace gifting from a content perspective. Gift guides or gift lists — what's hot for holidays, ideas for dads and grads, etc. — make for easy content in our content starved times. But the gift ideas should be linked straight to those items so the gifters can buy them.
Feature gifting on your site. If people are looking for gift ideas, make that content central to your shopping experience. It might even be worth making it a navigation item so that it's visible on every page.
Integrate gift ideas with gift cards. If someone browsing your gift lists doesn't find anything exciting, an "escape hatch" alternative of going generic with a gift card should be available. Offering personalized options can make gift cards feel like less of a cop out.
Don't assume the gift buyer is a sophisticated user of your site or brand. The gifter is most likely shopping at your store because they know the recipient loves the brand. But the gift giver may not. Investing a little in helping a gift buyer get to know you better might convert that buyer into a fan. At the least, the retailer may rank top of mind the next time the gifting occasion comes around.
Build gifting loyalty. A loyalty program isn't necessary for someone who may purchase at your store literally once per year. But it might be worth reminding them of the event and the recipient next year.
Should gift guides, gift card options, and other gifting-help tools be more pervasive at many retailers?