What Consumers Really Think about Their Online Gift Card Purchase Experiences

By Gerry Gilbert, Vice President, Product

Most consumers are looking for personalization when they purchase an online gift card

Consumer Survey Word Cloud

Open-ended comments reveal favorable purchase impressions. Click to enlarge.

When designing software, companies focus on what their clients and prospects want and need most – and rightfully so. If you aren’t designing useful features, why would anyone buy your product? For us, those clients are retail and restaurant brands. We speak to them regularly to garner feedback that we can incorporate into the product development process. This has been incredibly helpful in ensuring that we continue to provide the most comprehensive online gift card platform on the market. But what about our clients’ customers – the buyers of online gift cards? What do they think of the experiences that we power on behalf of our clients?

To find out, we partnered with Libran Research & Consulting to survey consumers about the gift card purchases they made from CashStar client brands during the important holiday selling season: November 2015 – February 2016. Our goals were simple: find out who purchases gift cards online, how satisfied they are with the purchase experience, which features are most important to them and what role gift card promotions play in purchase decisions.

We were excited to learn that an overwhelming 91 percent of purchasers are satisfied with the online gift card purchase experience and 80 percent said they are likely to both purchase gift cards online again, as well as to recommend purchasing gift cards online to others. Online gift card purchasers are primarily buying for family (more than 60 percent). While gifting was the primary driver of purchases, gift card promotions also drove nearly 1 in 5 purchases.

Interest is High for Personalized Experiences
There is a lot of talk in the market today about what new and cool features will drive additional digital gift card purchases. We looked at one particular area of interest to many retailers – personalization. I’m a firm believer that digital purchasing experiences have the ability – through personalization – to really change the behavior of the customer. There’s not much that is personal about going into a store and buying a plastic gift card off the rack, whereas the entire process can be personalized within the digital experience. This feeling of being able to provide a really personal gift for a loved one will likely drive repeat behavior for the sender, rather than additional off-the-rack sales for their future gift card purchases.

Our research shows that a vast majority – more than three quarters – want some level of personalization. We learned that the features they truly care about (and those that are now considered table stakes for retailers) include the ability to add a personal message and upload their own photo, or having many faceplate options to choose from – all of which CashStar currently offers. There was also interest in other personalization options such as the ability to add music or an animated GIF, but none ranked high enough to be viewed as a “silver bullet” to more gift card sales.

As our research supports, personalization can drive more value and would increase the likelihood of a digital gift card purchase for a portion of the respondents. One thing to be mindful of, is these participants are already highly engaged digital gift card buyers – so it’s no surprise that they want more. Whether more advanced features will lead to new gift card buyers is still yet to be seen, but we’re continuing to innovate in this area to test the revenue potential of advanced personalization.

For those of you who attended our Innovate conference in April or viewed our webinar, you know that these findings go much deeper. If you weren’t able to attend or would like a refresh on the findings – which include gift card buyer demographics, their purchasing habits and motivations, the potential revenue impact of personalization options for your business and more – we have packaged up the insights shared in our new report, “Gift Cards Through the Eyes of Consumers” and in a recorded webinar. Both are available for download from our Resource Center today.

Follow Gerry on LinkedIn.

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