STUDY: Digital Gift Cards Key Indicator of Omni-Channel Alignment

By Anne Klein, Senior Director of Customer Successrsr2015-blog

As we head into the busiest gifting season of the year, RSR Research has issued its digital gifting study. The study benchmarks the nation’s leading retail and restaurant brands’ digital gifting experiences from the perspective of both the sender and recipient. As digital gift card sales have grown, the feature set and user experience has naturally evolved. The study has also evolved to benchmark what are considered the standard gifting expectations and new features and channels. For example, the option to save gift card to mobile wallets, registry integration and reload capabilities are newer evaluation criteria. After careful evaluation of 100 top brands, the most significant insight revealed from the RSR study is how a retailer’s digital gift card is a key indicator of omni-channel sophistication.

When the first report was published in 2010, 40% of the retailers evaluated offered digital gift cards. While the number of retailers offering digital gifts has increased in the past five years, the data suggests that not all retailers are optimizing digital and marketing effectively. On the surface, it appears that implementing a digital gift card program would be easy; however, in reality there are several factors retailers must consider in order to be successful.

For instance, retailers need to think through the shopper’s purchase path and how they enable such experiences from channel to channel. With the rising sophistication of mobile and social touchpoints, today’s shoppers expect a seamless experience. Digital gift cards are no exception.

While this year’s report suggests that many retailers are still struggling, there is light at the end of the tunnel, with a handful of retailers paving the way by:

  • Developing a clear strategy for implementing and supporting a digital gifting business
  • Making an effort to make sure the digital gifting experience is consistent across channels
  • Clearly communicating how the digital gifting process works for the buyer and recipient

As the category grows, there is definitely opportunity for improvement and work to be done to the digital gifting experience, as the RSR report highlights. The findings in this year’s report very much align with CashStar’s view that digital gifting has enormous potential when implemented by applying best practices across all customer touchpoints, including mobile, desktop and in-store experiences. It’s about reaching and converting customers anytime, anywhere. This is particularly true in digital gifting where 80%+ transactions are still considered “last minute” gifting. Retailer beware—while the rewards of a successful program are great, customers can be fickle, and an ineffective (or nonexistent) digital gifting program can send a message that you’re not paying attention—which ultimately impacts customer brand and spend preferences.

In my next blog post, I’ll share the winning strategies of this year’s gifting leaders. In the meantime, to learn which brands made the top of the list this year—and to learn from the mistakes of retailers that did not fare as well, download a free copy of the report here.


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