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[6 comments]

Are gifters being overlooked by retailers?

August 20, 2014

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.

FINANCIALS:     [NASDAQ:SBUX] [ ]

Discussion Questions:

Do you agree that helping gift givers is a missed opportunity by many stores? What obvious and less obvious ways can stores be doing a better job assisting gift givers, whether in-store or online?

While we value unfettered opinion, we urge you to show respect and courtesy for people or companies about whom you comment. Keep in mind that this is a public, professional business discussion. RetailWire reserves the right to edit or refuse the publication of remarks that we deem unsuitable. We may also correct for unintended spelling and grammatical errors.

Instant Poll:

Should gift guides, gift card options, and other gifting-help tools be more pervasive at many retailers?

Comments:

These are common-sense prescriptions from RSR that should ring a bell with retailers everywhere. Suggestions and gift lists are part of the formula that put Amazon on top. RSR's ideas are particularly timely for specialty retailers that sell "splurgy" products, like Williams-Sonoma and Sur La Table.

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Cathy Hotka, Principal, Cathy Hotka & Associates

Partially. I think a majority of retailers understand the value of gift cards, it just doesn't feed their need for an immediate sale as revenue is only booked when the gift card is used, (see: gift certificates), which also makes these harder to administer.

That being said, e-gift cards are less prevalent, which is also a sign that many retailers are just getting up to speed in e-commerce. As retailers deepen their e-commerce skillsets, I would expect e-gift cards to become more widely available.

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Bill Davis, Director, MB&G Consulting

Absolutely. It's a bit like the now-common distinction between the shopper and the consumer: the one buying isn't necessarily the end user!

As I detailed in a recent comment on CVS' omni-channel strategies for the holiday period, there are many ways to capture gifting demand.

Wish lists, recommendation engines, gift wrapping, flexible fulfillment of both online and in-store purchases, and seamless return/exchange policies are all worth consideration.

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Keith Anderson, VP, Strategy & Insight, Profitero

The way retailers incent you to shop today is by knowing your shopping wants needs and desires. They do this through a deep understanding of your shopping patterns. It would be nice if you could shop a site with a guest profile that you designate (based on your knowledge of the recipient) that would help you navigate the selections and help you make decisions as if you were the recipient.

Alan Lipson, Retail Industry Marketing Manager, SAS Institute Inc.

I like the idea of encouraging "gifting" in stores. Like the nationwide "ice bucket challenge" that is currently growing, what about a gifting challenge; buying things for people they really need? Like I'd like someone to gift me some LED replacement light bulbs, as I have to update all the old lamps I have had in my US home while I lived in Hong Kong.

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Jerry Gelsomino, Principal, FutureBest

U.S. consumers spent $42.75 billion online during the holidays last year (comScore, 2013). That's a lot of gift giving! Of course gift giving capabilities are high on the priority list during the holiday season! Gift lists, gift suggestions, gift wrapping, free shipping and even ease of online UI is essential to major retail holiday sales. For starters, just take a look at Amazon, Apple and Starbucks, and learn from what they do.

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Alexander Rink, CEO, 360pi

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