New research from RetailDive studio/ID, commissioned by GiftNow, shows that retailers plan to increase their focus on digital gifting capabilities ahead of the holidays as shipping surcharges and logistics hurdles loom. Facing recently announced peak season surcharges from FedEx and the US Postal Service, nine out of 10 retailers are planning to improve their e-gifting capabilities prior to the holidays, according to the survey. Further, 60 percent plan to include instant digital delivery and gift personalization to improve the user experience.
Many retailers are incorporating instant or scheduled digital delivery and gift customization options to strengthen the online gift delivery experience. Also, they are decoupling the shipping and delivery of gifts and gift cards, which could help avoid surcharges and other potential costs.
The Benefits of Digital Gifting
With 76 percent of retail executives citing shipping deadlines for purchases as much as one to two weeks before Christmas, these findings may indicate that retailers will be optimizing their e-commerce platforms to give added flexibility to gift givers in the days and weeks leading up to December 25. Features like virtual gift customization can also help stem the tide of holiday returns, which were up 41 percent in 2020 versus 2019. Eighty percent of retailers plan to offer returns on holiday gifts, with 46 percent offering extended returns and 36 percent offering free shipping on those returns, according to the studioID survey.
After experiencing shipping delays and supply strains in 2020, a majority of the retailers surveyed are re-evaluating how to deliver positive gift experiences through the holidays in 2021. Gifting platforms like GiftNow give consumers more options for delivering thoughtful, personalized gifts virtually so that retailers don’t have to ‘close their doors’ online with one to two weeks of shopping still left in the season. Better yet, GiftNow enables recipients to select and customize their gifts before they even ship. This flexibility can help retailers maximize holiday revenues by having fewer exchanges and logistical hassles.
Addressing 2020 Holiday Frustrations
Overall, 70 percent of retailers were somewhat or less than satisfied with their gifting revenues for the 2020 holiday season. According to a studioID Pulse Survey in May 2021, nearly half of retailer decision makers said they need to increase investment in e-commerce gifting before the end of the year.
Gift Cards May Play a Larger Role in 2021
While retailers say online gift cards continue to be one of the most popular gifting options, the recent survey also revealed that 68 percent of retailer decision makers were only somewhat or less than satisfied with their gift card program providers.
There is still time to make strategic investments in gifting before the holidays. Making gift cards more frictionless and personalized can help retailers increase customer satisfaction while achieving their objectives of increased revenue and improved conversion rates.
Kevin Payne is the Vice President of Corporate Marketing for GiftNow