Tech lets gift receivers decide what they get for Christmas

Source: Neiman Marcus, Loop Commerce
Nov 16, 2017
Matthew Stern

Getting a gift in the wrong size or color sometimes make the holiday even more stressful for the person who has to return it. On the verge of Black Friday this year, numerous retailers have announced that they are implementing a tool that puts recipients of gifts in control of what they get for the holidays. 

The solution is called GiftNow. Prominent retailers have implemented a GiftNow button as a payment option on their websites. When a gift-giver orders something using the option, rather than sending the item directly to the intended recipient, it sends an email with the details of the gift. The recipient can then make changes to characteristics of the order before it ships or even request a different gift entirely. 

The list of retailers using GIftNow includes Coach, Gap Inc., Macy’s, Michael Kors, Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue and Target.  

Gap Inc., which will be offering the service at its Banana Republic and Athleta chains, is adding a further omnichannel twist to the GiftNow concept, according to Multichannel Merchant. At 10 Athleta locations, the company is piloting a GiftNow card to extend the pre-gifting review process into the brick-and-mortar world. At these locations, gift shoppers can select a gift in-store, then have a card sent to the recipient offering the same range of GiftNow options as the emailed version. 

The GiftNow service is the latest iteration of Loop Commerce’s e-gifting patented technology platform, which a few big-name retailers began using last holiday season 

While allowing gift recipients to review their gifts before getting them might reduce the personal element of gift-giving, the success of the platform with early adopters and its more widespread implementation this year may indicate it’s something customers want. 

And if Gap Inc.’s omnichannel extension of the concept proves popular, it could mean that even gifts bought in-store may become merely suggestions.   

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What do you see as the benefits of a service such as GiftNow to retailers? How might it change holiday shopping behavior? Do you see the tool having success in stores as well as online?

"This is one of those apps that has a raison d'être."
"I hate gift cards and now I hate this. No longer will the fun and excitement of surprise gifts be a part of gift giving."
"It’s much simpler just to give a gift card to someone rather than making the recipient do this workaround to get their gift."

Join the Discussion!

13 Comments on "Tech lets gift receivers decide what they get for Christmas"

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Art Suriano

There are so many benefits I don’t know where to begin. We have all received that gift when we say “thank you for this gift” with a smile while our brain is thinking, “what am I going to do with this?” GiftNow takes that fear away. So for the givers and receivers, there is a tremendous convenience and guaranteed happiness. For retailers, it reduces gift returns, which are always that nail-biting time right after the holiday when retailers hope returns will become exchanges but they often still lose money. So this is a big win all around.

Years ago, it was always about picking out the perfect gift, wrapping it up and hopefully pleasing the recipient. Today we no longer think that way. The gift card was the first significant shift in gift giving, but GiftNow lets the giver have a chance to put some thought into the gift, which makes it much nicer.

Neil Saunders

There are benefits, but the big disbenefit is that the service is impersonal and does not allow for gifts to be wrapped and given in person. That may not put everyone off but for me, it takes some of the fun out of holiday gift buying and giving!

Bob Amster

This is one of those apps that has a raison d’être. Receiving a gift that one didn’t want or need can be disappointing. Letting the recipient make the necessary adjustments to a well-intentioned gift, makes for a perfect gift.

Lee Kent

Yes it is practical but to those of us old-fashioned folks, you might as well give them the cash. It just turns into a thoughtless gift and makes me feel that gift giving is just an obligation. OK, obligation may be too harsh of a word but you get my point. And that’s my 2 cents.

Zel Bianco

If giving someone a gift is about making them happy, this is the way to go. Better than a gift card, this shows that the person made an effort and still recognizes that the selection may not be spot-on. Although it will never take the place of finding the perfect gift for a loved one, anything that reduces the stress of the holiday season is a good thing, for both retailers and shoppers.

Peter Luff

Sadly, I can see the benefits for both the giver and taker of the gift, but it seems so clinical it misses the emotional concept of gift giving. For the retailer happy days, less returns!

Seth Nagle

This should really be called “Extended Friends and Family GiftMeNow.”

I like the idea for extended family members or those that want to do something nice for you but have no idea what to get as this makes the entire process much easier.

For those shoppers that take gift shopping personally, this will have no effect.

I expect GiftNow to help the retailers but I don’t expect it to be that big of a game-changer for holiday shopping.

Ken Morris

GiftNow is a great way for shoppers to avoid the uncomfortable experience of buying a gift for someone and having it be the wrong size, color or style. For retailers that offer this service, it is another way to attract customers that value this new approach to gift giving.

While GiftNow will likely be used more frequently online, sales associates may recommend this service if a shopper can’t decide on the perfect gift or don’t know exactly what the recipient likes. Since it is an electronically delivered gift, it is more conducive for gift giving that is not in-person.

Another twist on this approach would be to develop a service where the recipients register with various brands and create wish lists or “like” items on the retailers’ website that can be “shared” with, or viewed by, gift givers. That way the shopper buys the perfect gift and it works very well for gifts that are given in-person. Just a thought.

Cynthia Holcomb

My first thought is, define “personalization.” The CNBC article says this is “almost like sending a gift card, but a shopper is able to select a specific item for the recipient, instead of a dollar amount.” In turn, the receiver can specify color, size, etc. or exchange it for something of same or less value.

This is a workaround under the guise of personalization. It’s much simpler just to give a gift card to someone rather than making the recipient do this workaround to get their gift.

Ralph Jacobson

Ok, I guess I’m officially an old-timer. I hate gift cards and now I hate this. No longer will the fun and excitement of surprise gifts be a part of gift giving. Sure, we miss the mark on the gifts we buy. However, do we REALLY want zero anticipation of what’s inside the box?

Sure this new tool will work, and everyone else in the world will love it. I won’t. ;-(

Dan Raftery

The most obvious benefit would fall to both retailers and suppliers — a reduction in the quantity of returns. This seems like a no-brainer. I wonder why more companies aren’t involved.

Ricardo Belmar

There are many practical benefits to this concept in terms of making gift giving more efficient and reducing returns for the retailer, but it does miss the emotional sensation of receiving the boxed gift and unwrapping it with surprise. For some people and some occasions, that is as important as the gift itself. Tools like GiftNow trade one aspect of personalization in the gift giving process for another. In some instances that helps and in others it may take away from the experience. There is definitely a place for this and I expect it to bring success to the retailers adopting it this season — especially those sending gifts from far away that never had an intention of being given in person.

Andrea Wasserman

I was the recipient of a GiftNow gift earlier this year and was really impressed with the customer experience, which is elegant and slick. Unlike previous commenters theorized, I didn’t feel it was a workaround nor that it made me do extra work; it was clear some thought went into the gift, while making easy for me to exchange it for something I liked better.

As a gift-giver and as a recipient, I think this is a MUCH more personal gift than a gift card let alone cash. Of course, there’s something special about a gift-wrapped and hand-delivered package. But I think GiftNow is the next-best thing if you’re uncertain as to recipient preferences and/or aren’t celebrating in person.

As a retail professional, I like GiftNow as a way for retailers to reduce S&H expense by preempting a return before it happens and as an opportunity to capture upcoming holiday sales after shipping cutoffs.

"This is one of those apps that has a raison d'être."
"I hate gift cards and now I hate this. No longer will the fun and excitement of surprise gifts be a part of gift giving."
"It’s much simpler just to give a gift card to someone rather than making the recipient do this workaround to get their gift."

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