Show Gifting Some Year-Round Love

The e-tailing group wanted to get a year-round look at how retailers are performing in regard to year around gifting and March was the perfect time to test out our theory that retailers can do more on the gift front.

Every day is a gifting opportunity, a child’s birthday, a husband’s anniversary, or a chance to remind someone how much you care. Retailers have an opportunity —and dare I say an obligation— to ensure their gifting capabilities are prominently displayed on their e-commerce site. Though these days may never measure up dollar for dollar to the 4th quarter holidays, retailers still have a chance to solidify their brands as a gift giving destination and reach customers on a more frequent basis. 

The e-tailing group wanted to get a year-round look at how retailers are performing in regard to year around gifting and March was the perfect time to test out our theory that retailers can do more on the gift front.

We returned to the e-tailing group 2020 Gifting Index, sponsored by GiftNow and took another look at the 50 merchants we previously evaluated. This time we look at 3 key factors and how they played out. 

1. Gift Card Visibility Remains Strong

The visibility of gift cards on websites was certainly a positive as retailer experiences seemed to parallel what we saw in the 4th quarter. All but two merchants made it easy to find a gift card, so we are pleased to report that 96% of our index showed the love for the gift card. For those that did make it easy to find a gift card, the locations of gift card availability on their websites should also be of interest in terms of capturing the shopper’s attention. Remember, a retailer can choose to position their gift cards in multiple places.  The footer takes the lead with some retailers even dedicating top navigation status. 

Top Navs with a Twist
The NorthFace added a twist to their top navigation with a gift box icon, putting it in good company with other key options including order status, rewards, store locator and Help to name a few.

Raising the Footer Profile
Footers can move beyond a standard link and here QVC reminds shoppers of their gift cards with a bright visual presence and a message that suggests, “Give them what they really want.”

Home page merchandising is a chance to tell the story dedicating valuable real estate to the all -important gift card. Both Chico’s and Land’s End do an excellent job of inspiring visitors.

2. General gift links are limited

When it comes to gifting, shoppers are often looking for inspiration, so we turned our attention to finding a “Gifts” link that might quickly direct us to a gift center. We did that by looking for a link entitled Gifts or Gift ideas. While almost 1 in 3 (32%) had that in place, for most this was a real missed opportunity. As a point of reference, the location of the link may also be of interest. For those that had the link, 81% gave it a top nav spot, indicating their focus on gifting. The footer would be our second location of choice for year-round status.

Michael Kors is an example of the top navigation approach and one that likely provides the best visibility for shoppers.

Search as a last resort 
When we could not find a “Gifts” link, we wanted to give merchants one more look. We typed “Gift” or “Gift Ideas” into the search box to see what retailers would have in store for their shoppers. Here is what we found. While 82% of the retailers surveyed yielded results, not all search results that came back were relevant. Instead we received the all-too familiar “no results found.” For the remainder, the experiences fell into one of three camps. 

Gift Center:  For REI, we used the search box and typed in gift ideas. I am happy to share that their gift center was shown and harkened me back to what I saw over the holidays.

Search Box Merchandising:  Our Uniqlo search yielded a series of links to gift guides making it easy to take the next step based on the intended recipient.

For Coach, we completed a search under gift ideas where top searches led us to 636 items and a top products callout.

Search Results Grid:  Fanatics took a search results approach, and their selection of gift cards, products and gift bags was appealing.

3. Remember Other Gifting Favorites

Merchants also have a chance to highlight additional aspects of their gifting repertoire. Our evaluation revealed that only 30% (15 merchants) highlighted a gifting aspect beyond the gift card or general gifts link. Those included the following:

  • Gift Registry:  42%
  • GiftNow:  33%
  • Gift Services:  33%
  • Gift Finder:  17%
  • Redeem gift card message:  8% 

From a location standpoint, 80% of those gifting references could be found in the footer with 13% in top navigation and 7% in the left navigation. 

L.L. Bean, for example, has a Gifts section of their footer that includes Gift Shop, Gift Cards, and the ability to check one’s gift card balance. It should also be noted that under L.L. Bean for Business, one can find Business Gifts, so they are smartly accommodating both personal and business gift giving needs.

Lastly, I loved how lululemon called out “Your gift card called, it wants you to use it.” They direct you to their new product offerings to take a look.

5 Tips for Raising Year-Round Gifting Profile

  1. Provide a quick access link to gift cards
  2. Include a gift card visual to catch the shopper’s attention
  3. Maintain a year-round “Gifts” link that serves as a destination for your customers
  4. Utilize the home page to merchandise gifting locations and elements
  5. Ensure that searches for gifts and gift ideas yield results and ideally link to well-merchandised locations

Get your copy of the e-tailing group’s 2020 Gifting Index here.

Lauren Freedman is the president of the e-tailing group.

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