Nordstrom Tries to Cut Down on Holiday Returns With E-Gifts

Originally published by Lindsey Rupp on Bloomberg.

Nordstrom bets added convenience will win over consumers

Nordstrom Inc., fighting to stay relevant with consumers who are shifting their spending online, is letting shoppers digitally send each other presents this holiday season.

The upscale retailer has partnered with CashStar Inc., which provides the software that retailers use for physical and digital gift cards, to let customers e-mail specific items from the retailer’s website to people on their holiday lists. Recipients can accept the items that appear in their inboxes and have them shipped to their doors, exchange the merchandise for something else or accept the value as a gift card.

“As far as gifting goes, there’s this balance of convenience and thoughtfulness, and we’re going to continue to strive to help the customer navigate that,” Sean Burrow, director of gift card at Seattle-based Nordstrom, said in an interview.

Nordstrom is testing the e-gifting platform on its full-line website, Burrow said. While gift-card sales surge during the holiday season, the retailer expects the feature to be useful year-round. Nordstrom’s gift-card sales are increasing across all channels and have been exceeding the company’s overall growth rate, Burrow said.

Nordstrom is betting the new option will set it apart from mall-based rivals and help it win over last-minute shoppers who are looking for convenience. Gift cards topped the list of most-requested items by consumers for the 10th year in a row, according to the National Retail Federation. Still, almost half of buyers said they were reluctant or unwilling to buy gift cards because they’d rather wrap up something more personal, according to surveys by Portland, Maine-based CashStar.

Also seen in:
Business of Fashion: Nordstrom Turns to Electronic-Gifting Service Amid Shift Online
The Denver Post: Nordstrom lets shoppers email Christmas gifts (and recipients can return, exchange or cash them in with a click)
The Chicago Tribune: Nordstrom turns to electronic-giving service amid shift online