Achieving Gifting Excellence: The Imperative for a Holistic Assessment of Gifting Operations
Smart retailers start planning for their winter holiday shopping season during the summer to ensure the best outcomes for positive customer experiences and revenue growth. Gifting and e-commerce operations should be critical to those plans, but don’t often get the attention they deserve.
A thorough assessment of a retailer’s gifting capabilities can help ensure a successful 2021 holiday season, especially after a very prosperous 2020 winter holiday shopping period that, despite challenging circumstances, saw retail sales grow 3 percent and online sales grow 49 percent from 2019.
Why is a gifting assessment so critical to a retailer’s success? Among the most important things we learned during the pandemic is to simplify everything for the consumer, including the gifting journey and overall gift shopping experience.
To better capitalize on the gifting economy, retailers must address a key question: Is the current gift shopping experience designed with gift buyers in mind? As the buying experience is fundamentally different for a gift buyer vs. a self-shopper, this question should guide how retailers assess their gifting operations and identify ways to maximize gifting revenues and customer satisfaction.
Identify a Corporate Champion
To start a holistic gifting assessment, retailers should identify an internal champion to lead the evaluation and identify ways to advocate for a better gifting experience. Depending on the retailer, the champion might be the chief revenue, digital, or marketing officer, or head of e-commerce. Regardless of who is chosen, the champion will help their company meet and exceed revenue goals by optimizing e-commerce operations.
Setting Expectations From the Start
The most successful retailers conduct a holistic gifting assessment early in the holiday planning cycle. Acting on key learnings can make a significant difference in the improvement to the customer gifting experience and can result in a longer-term payoff.
What to Look For
Those conducting the assessment, including the internal champion, should first accept that they may be challenged to enable a more intuitive customer gifting journey. Often assessments are executed with little guidance on what to look for. Furthermore, retailers should view their challenges holistically and not limit themselves to thinking, "we only have challenges with our gift cards." Gift cards are just one piece of the larger gifting puzzle retailers need to solve on the customer gifting journey.
During this assessment, retailers should ask, "What is our brand doing today that's truly designed for the gift buyer" and "Is the brand thinking like a gift buyer?" With these perspectives in mind, here are five questions retailers should address:
- Is personalization of the gifting experience an attribute readily found in our online gifting efforts?
- Does our gifting strategy align with our omnichannel customer experience strategy?
- Do we offer flexible gifting options, such as product gifting as well as digital and physical gift cards?
- Can we simplify our gifting logistics that allow for longer return windows or pre-shipping exchanges?
- Can we enable bulk (one-to-many) gifting?
Part of the gifting assessment should include developing gifting use cases and a website evaluation to help improve the customer’s gift shopping journey. To go even deeper, retailers can pair those findings with their sales receipts over a set period, extracting which purchases also asked for gift receipts. That collective data can give retailers a baseline of which products are most gifted and help shape future strategies for communicating "giftable" products.
There's no better time for retailers to begin that assessment and accelerate their journey to achieve gifting excellence. GiftNow developed an easy-to-use guide for achieving gifting excellence that identifies things to look for and illustrates how to optimize the gifting experience on your e-commerce site. To download a free copy, click here.
John Grech is head of retail partnerships, GiftNow, a Synchrony Solution. GiftNow is a holistic gift experience management (GXM) platform.
John Grech is currently the Head of Retail Partnerships at Loop Commerce leading sales, business development and growth for the company. Loop is powering GXM for leaders like Target, Neiman Marcus, Vera Bradley, Coach, Kate Spade Michael Kors, and others. Prior to Loop, he was Co-Founder of Iterate Studio, a venture designed to close the gap on how retailers and brands access early-stage startup innovation. Essentially, Walmart Labs for everyone else and delivered as a service.