If one were to look at the retail landscape online, one just might conclude that most retailers aren’t interested in corporate gifting and gift cards. I would suggest there’s a missed opportunity. In a 2021 Coresight Research study of corporate gift buyers, sponsored by GiftNow, the corporate gift market was sized at $242 billion with an expected CAGR of 8.1% through 2024.
Corporate Gifting and Gift Cards: Maximizing the Opportunity
Each year in the early fall, the e-tailing group begins their annual e-tailing group Gifting Index. This year we decided to start with corporate gifting and dig a bit deeper. Initially, we looked to see if there was any presence of a corporate gifting experience, which at a minimum had to include corporate gift cards and/or the ability to make a bulk gift card purchase, both of which would be tracked on their own as well. Lastly, knowing that visibility drives traffic and interest, we explored how retailers creatively presented and provided access to the corporate experience.
There’s work to be done and ‘tis the season. If not now, then post the holiday season will be a good time for consideration as corporate gifting can be viewed as a year-round business. As retailers look for new revenue streams and new customers, this is an untapped market that should be tested. As corporate gift buyers seek out creative ways to reward employees and bolster relationships with business partners, retailers should be ready to provide solutions and services.
10 Ideas for Engaging Your Corporate Gift Buyer
- Set the Right Tone
Harry & David, a pioneer in the gifting world, reinforces that connecting with people matters and in today’s challenging times, it seems even more important. They are among the 44% of the e-tailing group’s 2021 Gifting Index who are invested in the corporate gift market as defined above. They provided links to Corporate Gifts in their top navigation, emphasizing its importance to the business.
Upon arrival, buyers are directed to everything from client appreciation to employee recognition and even corporate events. The number to reach a corporate sales consultant is well positioned with a chat option also forthcoming.
- Call out bulk purchasing and extend discounts to buyers
Gap lets you both know they are in the corporate sales business and that discounts are forthcoming. Our research revealed that 40% of the 50 retailers who comprised the survey had a bulk buying option. Clearly there are conveniences for the customer. Buyers can access these gift cards through a gift card link in the top navigation. From there, a corporate sales program link leads buyers to physical, digital, and bulk options that are nicely highlighted.
- Give buyers more reasons to consider bulk gifting
Lands’ End does just that by moving beyond business incentives to call out school fundraisers. In a post-COVID world one can only guess there is great need in the educational sector. A footer link to gift cards includes the message, “Ideal for business incentives, thank-you gifts, and school fundraisers. Get Volume Discounts.” When visiting that location, volume discounts are articulated along with available denominations.
- Encourage buyers to connect to experts
Corporate gifting is an investment and retailers should encourage companies to get in touch to learn more. Connecting with an expert ensures that the best decisions are made. It’s likely beneficial for the retailer as well as one can only surmise that customers will be encouraged to spend even more. Williams-Sonoma’s “let’s work together” messaging wraps up their gift card destination that accommodates the needs of personal and corporate gifters.
- Make both physical and digital cards available for bulk purchasing
Upon visiting DSW’s gift card destination, a corporate option is displayed for those who want to “order a whole bunch of gift cards at once.” DSW was one of the few retailers who then called out both bulk digital and physical options. Our index indicates that 38% of retailers reviewed offered a corporate card of at least one type. The convenience that comes from having a digital option should not be underestimated.
- Let buyers know the potential discounts up front
In conducting this corporate gift research, it almost appears that corporate gifting and the potential for savings was a well-kept secret. I particularly liked L.L. Bean’s execution for its transparency. Their gift card volume discounts were spelled out starting with messaging via their gift card page. Their “Buy More and Save” prompts buyers who may be looking to place an order for a large group or businesses. They can save up to 20% and a link to L.L Bean for Business puts them on the right path. In clicking on the gift card volume discount link, buyers can get all the details. They have a convenient multi-recipient form which jumpstarts the buying process.
- Tell ‘em why they should buy
Best Buy makes it easy to reward their customers and spells out why they are the right partner. Their cards can be used for both products and services and they suggest it’s an easy process. Personalization can be self-service or assisted and volume discounts are also available with their program.
- Add the personal touch
In keeping with the Nordstrom brand, they too articulate why they should be your partner for your corporate gifting needs. They explain how it works and have an email contact referenced to get the ball rolling. This information gives customers a home base from which to work and FAQs are available for those who prefer self-service.
- Put a Help Team in place
Target takes it one step further with a dedicated gift card team. Both email and phone contact information are readily available.
- Visibility is Critical
This is an excellent time to talk visibility and it serves as our final recommendation. An overview of the 2021 Gifting Index findings reveals the following numbers. At a minimum, every company with corporate gift card had access via a gift card link, yet unfortunately it became a multi-stop process to find the corporate component. Perhaps like Omaha Steaks and a handful of other retailers this visibility can be better positioned for easier access. Omaha Steaks had corporate gifting in their top navigation as well as the footer which is shown below.
Corporate Gifting Merits the Retailer’s Attention
The corporate gifting opportunity merits the retailer’s attention and execution is paramount. We suggest each retailer review their corporate offerings including both physical and digital options. Of course, a bulk offering is ideal with volume discounts welcome. Lastly, buyers are time-starved and need to find products quickly. Access to experts can help seal the deal and turn first-time buyers into long-term customers.
Lauren Freedman is president of the e-tailing group