Selling Gift Cards: 10 Mobile Musts and a Mid-year Review

It was the week before Father’s Day and graduation ceremonies were also in full swing. We were all out and about as summer had arrived with mask mandates mostly lifted. Now that we’re a bit more out and about again, mobile is even more important when it comes to gift giving. According to Oberlo, mobile commerce sales are projected to reach $3.56 trillion in 2021-22.3% more than the $2.91 trillion it registered in 2021. There are essential best practices for merchants for selling gift cards to capitalize on this market opportunity.

Selling Gift Cards - 10 Mobile Musts

We all know real estate is at a premium when it comes to mobile’s UX, forcing the retailer to make tough choices. Gift-wise, our expectations are such that we expect to be able to access a gift card with one click from navigation. While we are at it, we would like to see some merchandising of the gift card experience to entice shoppers and of course being able to personalize one’s gift card selection is always in favor, though not limited to mobile devices.   

A Mid-year Review

Rather than merely pontificate about the mobile experience, the e-tailing group thought this would be the perfect time to kick off our 2021 mid-year review. We looked at a dozen metrics with a focus on selling gift cards (both physical and digital) to see how they were merchandised via the mobile device. While some of our experiences were positive and links abundant, others were frankly lacking, forcing the “on the go” mobile shopper to hunt around for what otherwise should be a quick buy.

10 Tactics to Improve Selling Gift Cards

With that in mind, we are recommending 10 tactics along with best practice examples that can serve as a mini mobile playbook. For each, we have included images, the location of their gift card link and how many clicks to get to a gift card on that retailer’s mobile site. Summer is the perfect time to tweak the user experience in anticipation of the holiday season, so get ready.

1. Showcase your complete gift card assortment

Fanatics covers their bases by highlighting their gift cards via a link on their footer. Their array of choices, including team e-gift and special occasion cards, are sure to appeal to sports aficionados and, should corporate giving be in consideration, these types of cards  should be in the game as well.   

Location:  Footer 

# Links to Gift Card: 1 

Fanatics gift card offerings

2. Make gift cards visible with one click

Macy’s is a good example. They let their shoppers know that it is an important gifting time of the year. Our research found that 58% of all retailers surveyed had a gift center or guide for selling purposes. Their Father’s Day Gift Guide, accessible from their home page, allows for shopping by price points and spotlights gift cards amidst important categories likely to be purchased. Moving beyond a simple link captures the customer’s attention so they are in good company. 

Location:  Home Page

# Links to Gift Card:  1

Macy's gift card offerings

3. Delivery choices should be abundant

Father’s Day is peak season for gifting and TaylorMade makes it convenient for shoppers to send it their way, whether it be email, text messenger or print. A choice of designs is offered and the ability to schedule for later delivery truly makes it customer-centric. As a point of reference, 90% of indexed retailers offered plastic gift cards while 96% made their digital counterparts available.  

Location:  Left Nav via Gifting

# Links to Gift Card:  1

TaylorMade gift card offerings

4. Play into the psyche of the shopper with instant gratification

Michael Kors wants to take the guesswork out of gifting. Their adoption and integration of GiftNow guarantees an immediate turnaround and allows the gift recipient to make the choice that is right for them. The option to add a photo (38%) or a video (22%) is a differentiator among surveyed retailers.  

Location:  Customer service, left nav

# Links to Gift Card:  2

Michael Kors selling gift cards

5. Create a year-round location for selling gift cards and e-gift cards

Williams-Sonoma understands that every day is a gifting opportunity. After some long scrolling, shoppers will find an image of an egift card with a link to all gift card options. This visible placement alludes to the importance of the egift card in their business where it is sure to stand out as a resource for shoppers. It should be noted that gift cards are also accessible via their left navigation

Location:  left nav, home page

# Links to Gift Card: 

A look at our mobile index reveals the locations of gift card links and in some instances retailers have more than one.  

Location (based on 45 retailers with links)Penetration
Left nav 60%
Footer33%
Home page29%
Customer service/support7%
Other4%
Selling Gift Cards at Williams Sonoma

6. Home page merchandising of gifts and gifts cards speaks to retailers being in the gift business

L.L. Bean’s home page calls out both Father’s Day gifts and a link to shop gift cards. More importantly, they include gift card with a present icon that reinforces their year-round presence. Their imagery is powerful and their accessibility admirable. 

Location:  Home Page

# Links to Gift Card:  1

LL Bean gift card selling

7. Make the experience interactive

When visiting Coach, we found they certainly went the extra mile. Gifts by price point were present. Highlighting their GiftNow option showcased this “can’t go wrong” option. They were up front about delivery lead times and omnichannel choices were noted including a pickup in store option, a bonus for harried shoppers. And if you were not sure what the right choice might be, they offer an interactive quiz that was merchandised throughout the shopping experience.  

Location:  Home Page, Footer, Left nav

# Links to Gift Card:  2

Coach gift card offerings

8. Reward the buyer and the seller

We all love to be rewarded for our behavior and REI was wise to that game as their members received a $20 member bonus card with the purchase of a $100 gift card. And not to worry, if you are not a member, you could sign up for a $20 fee.  Their merchandising is well done, and their FAQs make it accessible to see the fine print. Lastly, they reminded you to take advantage of their app, where loyal users are likely to frequent. 

Location:  Home page, left nav

# Links to Gift Card:  1

REI Gift Card offerings

9. Make it convenient and compelling

Sephora has their eye on gifting and has designed an engaging experience for their shoppers. One can reach their gift cards from their About Sephora link. Of course, we might prefer to see gift cards as their own link to speed up the process.  Their iconography ensures we can quickly find what we need and the ability to personalize their egift cards beyond messaging sets them apart from many others (82%). Checking your gift card balance can also come in handy and is offered by 72% of our index retailers. Also of note is the 46%, who like Sephora, have corporate gift cards. 

Location:  About Sephora

# Links to Gift Card:  2

Sephora gift card offerings

10. Remind shoppers that e-gift cards deliver instant satisfaction

One cannot help but love the approach that Omaha Steaks takes with their e-gift card. Access can be found through their gifts link in navigation or in this case it was accessible from their Father’s Day Gifts banner at the top of the site. Our only recommendation is that gift cards should have their own link year-round. Let there be no doubt that the e-gift card is a perfect gift. “Delivered immediate by email. Ready to use instantly. Guaranteed to satisfy.” It is a win-win for everyone.

Location:  Father’s Day Gifts or Gifts Link

# Links to Gift Card:  1

Omaha Steaks gift card sales

Selling Gift Cards: Mobile Gifting Features

Convenient, compelling, and concise go a long way when it comes to mobile gifting. Do you have the features in place to stand out in this crowded field? This at-a-glance look at our index results should steer you in the right direction, as of June 2021.

Gift Tactic% Retailers* 
Plastic gift card90%
Digital gift card96%
Ability to personalize gift card82%
Corporate gift card46%
Ability to add a photo38%
Ability to add a video 22%
Gift card link90%
# clicks to link 1.2
GiftNow 16%
Ability to check balance on gift card72%
Gift Center/guide58%

*e-tailing group index retailers surveyed

Click here to get your copy of the e-tailing group’s 2020 Gifting Index.

Lauren Freedman is president of the e-tailing group

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