Online Retail Today

Customers Demand Flexible Gift Card Options this Holiday Season

gift card promotion
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With roughly 80% of consumers expecting to buy gift cards this holiday season, offering them is a no-brainer for merchants. To make the most from this opportunity, they should invest in ensuring a seamless integration for the purchase and redemption of gift cards – both in store and online.

By now, 9 in 10 U.S. consumers have purchased gift cards, according to BlackHawk’s 2018 Consumer Gift Card Preferences Study. Cashstar found that four in five shoppers plan to buy gift cards for the upcoming holiday season. And given that 59% of recipients report spending more than the dollar value on the card, the gift card opportunity goes beyond the initial sale.

But with widespread use comes an increased expectation for flexibility when it comes both to purchasing the cards, giving them to recipients, and redeeming them. Among the preferences:

  • 74% of consumers prefer to buy from a multi-brand “gift card mall” rack display, compared with just 49% who buy a gift card directly from the retailer.
  • Just over half of consumers, 55%, prefer to buy and receive online gift cards that can be redeemed via a mobile device. That number jumps to 67% for Millennials aged 18-34.
  • More than half of Millennials would like to purchase gift cards directly via social media platforms.
  • Two-thirds of consumers would like to personalize gift cards, whether through a holiday-themed design, personalized messages, or online designs that incorporate personalized photos or video.

Now more than ever, gift cards are being redeemed at touchpoints (i.e. at retail locations or online) that are different from the places they are purchased. That means that merchants need their eCommerce and fulfillment software to adapt for maximum flexibility. At a minimum, they should offer:

  • Online and offline cross-redemption capability. Recipients should be able to use physical gift cards for online purchase, and online cards received via email or a retailer app should be scanner-ready for the store point-of-sale.
  • Mobile-friendly features for gift-card purchase. With mobile purchasing expected to account for 28% of all online retail this year, merchants should cater to mobile buyers with a seamless gift-card process that includes alternative payments (like Kibo’s) and optional addition of personal messages or even phone camera photos.
  • Social gifting shortcuts. Merchants should use social media to promote gifting options and provide direct links to gift card purchase in boosted posts and other paid placements.

What steps are you taking to maximize gift card flexibility for the holiday season?

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