In the last decade, eCommerce has boomed.
Retailers have developed slick one-click ordering and next day delivery capabilities as consumers demanded more easy ways to buy the things they need. However, when it comes to similarly direct, easy and obvious ways to send gifts to recipients after purchasing them, this area of retail and eCommerce lags behind.
The current pandemic, irrespective of a Covid-19 vaccine, and the ongoing uncertainty and anxiety looming over in-person meetings this festive season, has only heightened consumer demand for a gifting experience that allows for easy personalisation and the touches that make the giving of a gift memorable for both the recipient and the sender.
The results from our latest survey show that 43% of consumers in the UK expect to purchase gifts either online or instore before wrapping and sending them themselves to their loved ones this Christmas. This suggests that there’s a lot of duplicated effort and cost being worn by the consumer because retailers’ gifting options do not meet their needs.
- We identified that 30% of UK shoppers will choose to purchase gifts, wrap them themselves at home, and then send them on to the recipient via a postal service.
- A further 13% of participants are doing the same with physical gift vouchers, so recipients have them in time for Christmas.
- 30% of consumers have never chosen to or were unaware you could send a gift directly to a recipient.
- Only 28% of consumers would consider the online gifting experience they’ve had in the last six months impressive.
- 14% of consumers don’t expect to send gifts directly to recipients in the future.
These findings suggest that in-person and online retail gifting experiences fall short of delivering on consumer expectations, or worse still, are completely not on their radar.
Many consumers are unnecessarily duplicating packaging and delivery costs as well as effort when purchasing gifts online and instore. While this lines the pockets’ of logistics providers, it doesn’t benefit retailers who could be capturing this opportunity to impress their customers at the point of sale.
With deeper consideration of the end-to-end gifting experience, and investment in it, brands could capture additional revenue by providing gifting options at the point of sale that meet consumer needs. Making it easy, obvious and in the interest of the consumer to send gifts directly to recipients should be a top priority in 2021.
Consumer expectations of the direct to recipient experience
Our study also highlighted that consumers had clear expectations of what purchasing a gift and having it sent directly to the receiver should feel like. According to the survey, specific features UK consumers would like to see when purchasing a gift online that’s to be sent directly to the receiver, include:
- A typed personal message (51%)
- Having the items gift-wrapped (45%)
- Notification of when the recipient had received the gift (33%)
- Presents gift-wrapped in environmentally-friendly wrapping (16%)
- Attaching a personally recorded video message (10%)
As we approach an already challenging festive season, brands have already missed the chance to stand out with technical lockdowns in place. However, with Valentine’s Day, Easter and beyond still uncertain, and appetite for online purchase based on a rise in eCommerce sales set to remain, retailers must set themselves up for success by improving gifting experiences to support genuine customer needs, eliminating arduous DIY processes and a lack of engagement.
Five top tips for retailers to improve their gifting experience:
1. Make direct to recipient gifting options clear
Although an available option, the signposting of being able to send a gift directly to a recipient is often poor with other gift personalisation features relegated to the end of a checkout process. By understanding immediately if the purchase experience is for the consumer browsing or for someone else retailers should consider engineering solutions that change the experience to bring gifting features to the fore – such as an ease of ordering to non-billing addresses, gift-wrapping packages or smart recommendations.
2. Make sending direct to the recipient easy
On many retailers’ sites despite sending gifts to other addresses being possible it’s often arduous. It’s also often difficult to select multiple other addresses. Meaning, if a shopper wants to buy two or more gifts for two different people, they have to complete multiple purchase journeys. These journeys take time and effort and may be part of the reason why people prefer sending gifts to their own address before sending them on to recipients.
3. Send direct to the recipient from instore
Although in-store footfall may be down by up to 25% a large number of purchases are still being made in bricks and mortar. With the right setup and for a small premium, retailers could easily wrap, personalise and send purchases direct to recipients at the point of sale, rather than letting people take what they’ve bought away and expend the effort themselves.
4. Add magic to gifting experiences
Gifting experiences should be special for the recipient. If you don’t offer basic gifting options like gift wrapping, or typed personal messages already then consider doing so. If you do, but they aren’t being used to their full effect, consider better merchandising them across the purchase journey in a non-intrusive but helpful way. If you already nail the basics consider doing more, like designing for easy video capture and discovery. With video capture being part of the checkout process and discovery being part of the recipient unwrapping the gift via QR codes.
5. Consider aggregating gifts with other providers
By sharing purchase data with other retailers, and logistics providers, retailers could work to create aggregated gifting experiences which draw together multiple purchases from different vendors into one gifting delivery slot with a bespoke opening experience for the recipient.
Our study shows that gift-buying is a forgotten part of the retail ecosystem. Retailers must take this seriously to support gift-buying consumers more, by offering gifting experiences that better meet consumer needs. Those who do will be rewarded in kind and could influence a shift in behaviour that changes outdated and outmoded means of gifting forever.