By Larry Weissbach, Vice President, Client Services
It wasn’t so long ago that eGift Cards were considered the bright shiny objects in the e-commerce landscape – a “nice-to-have” offering in a retailer’s arsenal of e-commerce and marketing tools. Now, four years after early movers like The Home Depot and CVS implemented digital gift card programs, the absence of an eGifting program is the exception. In fact, the savviest retail and restaurant brands are using their digital gifting programs creatively and strategically to drive customer acquisition, engagement, loyalty, and mobile payments adoption.
Now, with the looming holiday season, when every online shopping experience and dollar counts, gifting deserves extra scrutiny. The timing is right to not only evaluate who’s doing it well and who could stand to improve – but also to examine how the market has evolved now that there are more than a handful of pioneers in the game.
The definitive resource for industry benchmarking has been the RSR Digital Gifting Report, published in 2010, 2011 and soon to be released in 2013. In many cases, the criteria established in the previous reports are still relevant today: ease of finding gift cards, personalization options, minimum clicks/pages to purchase, instant delivery, and more. But thanks to technology, and the maturity of eGifting overall, many of these essential foundational elements have become the industry standard, and therefore are not a key focus for the report this year. What demands our focus today is the differentiating capabilities enabled by the latest technologies, particularly mobile.
Perhaps even more interesting is that to obtain the most accurate view of eGifting we need to look beyond the Internet Retailer 100, which until this year had been the source for determining which retailers are evaluated. The Internet Retailer 100 focuses on brands with the highest online sales, not all of which are highly giftable or even consumer-centric. In 2013, RSR analysts took a more sector-oriented approach that focuses more on brands for which gift cards makes the most sense. In particular, it’s important to consider the impact that highly-giftable brands like department stores and restaurants have on the market.
At CashStar, we are firm believers that digital gift cards are a gateway to bigger things. With the rapid consumer adoption of digital and mobile devices for shopping, retailers have a new opportunity to more effectively and conveniently deliver gift cards and other forms of branded currency to influence and trigger consumer purchases. But in order to do that, you have to not only be in the game, but play it well. With the RSR 2013 Digital Gifting Report on the horizon, we’ll soon find out who’s getting the gold and who’s coming up empty handed.