Gifting Play by Play: From Summer Sales to the Postseason

E-commerce selling is a lot like a baseball season. Those that make it to the postseason are well prepared with the right players and the right plan. Here’s 10 gifting play by play recommendations to improve your postseason (holiday 2021) results to help ensure victory for your team.

Planning for the Postseason

As we move past the mid-way point of the baseball season, every team is in a different position. For those that have a chance to make the postseason, they will have to make sure their players are in a good position. E-commerce is in a similar scenario, having just come off major summer sales. This timing means paying attention to the user experience is more important than ever so doubling down on our efforts is a requirement. 

Recent research conducted by RetailDive’s studioID on gifting finds that almost two out of three retail executives (64 percent) report that gifting accounts for one to ten percent of their companies’ e-commerce revenue and for some it’s much higher. Optimizing those sales is essential for this season and beyond.

Winning Comes Down to Converting Customers

With e-commerce, it comes down to converting customers. Survey respondents cited that the two top strategic e-commerce gifting objectives for 2021 are improving conversion rates (36%) and generating more income through gifting (25%.) I would argue that the two go together and deserve our attention if we are to optimize the retail selling season.  

Drilling down, the two most frequently mentioned investments in technology to support gifting on companies’ websites are improving the user experience for gift selection (45%) and improving digital gift card offerings (44%).

The Gifting Play by Play Guide

Here’s the manager’s guide to readying gifting for the post-season taking a nine-inning approach to head into the holidays in top form.

  1. Dedicate more real estate to gifting. 
    • Evaluate where it can best serve the shopper by giving it a better chance in the field. Look at everything from navigation to comprehensive gift centers and be sure that shoppers will be inspired by what you have to offer.
  1. Make sure key gifting items are in stock. 
    • Don’t feature what you don’t have. Given the current state of the supply chain, the 2021 holiday season may be a challenge when it comes to stock. When showcasing gifts, retailers must be sure they are featuring products that are available to avoid potential disappointment among gift recipients.   
  1. Be timely in showcasing gift items.
    • Beyond having an all-year round message, gifting has a rhythm just like a baseball game. The early innings mean teasing and tempting the shoppers with hot products and getting them excited. Then the middle innings may mean pitching services and select seasonal trends. Late inning tactics should include digital gifts as time starts to run short and procrastinators loom online. If extra innings are warranted, leverage the store to best support customers.
  1. Ensure that the gift card has the visibility it deserves. 
    • Call out gift cards on your site and across all the channels where you connect with shoppers. From the home page to the footer and to social media, let shoppers know you are in the gift card business. 
  1. Utilize email to your advantage.
    • Email still resonates with shoppers so prepare a series of gifting emails that highlights the trends you will put in play. Remember, that it also works well as a last-minute reminder. Be sure to include your customer service differentiators from free return shipping to extended return windows.
An email promotion from Mizzen + Main promoting Father’s Day Gifting
  1. A digital story can be a game changer. 
    • Coaching is advised as many gift givers are challenged to make the right choice. As more shoppers gravitate to digital gifting, it’s important to reinforce the ease of digital gifting, its capability as a last-minute solution along with the ability to personalize the experience. This is a reason why retailers continue to adopt GiftNow to make it easier and more stress free for shoppers to give gifts.
  1. Ensure the mobile experience is streamlined. 
    • Many shoppers will choose to make their purchases on their mobile phones. With real estate tight, it’s important for shoppers to quickly be able to find gifting options, including visible links to gift cards. 
  1. Establish virtual options for shoppers who want to skip the store. 
    • During the pandemic, retailers looked for virtual solutions when shoppers couldn’t visit their stores. Shoppers became accustomed to such solutions and many will remain a part of the retailers’ lineup. Gift givers are looking for support to ensure they make the right choices and these concierge-like services can be customer-centric.   
Baseball play being diagramed
  1. Provide superior service levels to gift givers. 
    • This is an opportune time to remember that gift givers can become lifelong fans if they receive the right experiences. Exciting products, customer-friendly policies and inspirational merchandising must all be part of the lineup.

Extra Inning:  Utilize omnichannel shipping options 

  • The embrace of in-store pickup and curbside pickup means retailers should continue to extend these services post-pandemic. When shoppers are in a hurry, inventory transparency is just the confidence builder the buyer needs. A quick ride to the store saves the day. 

Winning in Gifting

Winning in the post-season is on the line. Making the right calls can be the difference in delivering a productive season and one that is jubilant for the fans and your retail organization.  Evaluate your options and make every inning count. Otherwise, there’s always next year.

Lauren Freedman is President of the e-tailing group

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