While the world has been flipped on its head this year - bushfires, pandemics and social unrest, to name a few - Christmas and the busy holiday season is still upon us, and is likely to be busier than ever.
For many, this Christmas will be a little different. As many of us are unable to see loved ones in person due to travel restrictions or border closures, many people will try to stay in touch with their loved ones near and far through the Christmas act of Gifting.
With the surge in ecommerce, we can assume many holiday gifters will be ordering their goods online, or sending presents directly to their recipients if they’re not able to see them on the day.
However, ecommerce gifts are not immune to the unwanted or badly selected gifts that are so common over the holiday season.
Gift cards could be the answer for ecommerce businesses looking to still benefit from the holiday generosity, but don’t want to deal with a backlog of lengthy returns or refunds. According to an article published by the FPA, 2 in 5 Australians (41%) have re-gifted a gift to another person or for another occasion, with females more likely to re-gift (48% have done so compared to 35% of males).
The main problem we have with Gift Cards is that they don’t seem exciting. They are (wrongly) perceived as a boring or easy option to some - lacking in surprise and ingenuity. But there’s more benefits to gift cards than meets the eye, for both the gifters and the giftees.
We’d argue that Gift Cards are the best gifts, and you may want to educate your users on the potential advantages...
Gift Card advantages for users
Avoid unwanted gifts going to landfill
On a basic level, a Gift Card could be a greener option. Gift cards could be* more sustainable because people can choose what they need. Customers save money spent on unnecessary, unwanted and unused goods; that are not good for our finances, don’t help the environment, clog up landfills and are covered in a ridiculous amount of wrapping paper!
You’re probably thinking most people might return those gifts, to be reused or bought by someone else. What’s the harm there? Well, all that extra shipping has a carbon cost, and we have to take into consideration that not all ecommerce businesses have an environmental conscience. Some places don’t even accept returns to be restocked - with new products going straight to landfill rather than resold.
*we say could be more sustainable, as it depends on the brand or site the gift card is purchased from.
Remove the risk of awkward present encounters
Everyone feels a bit sad if they see their gift being re-gifted and no-one wants to awkwardly ask for a refund receipt.
If a recipient keeps a bad gift to avoid said awkward encounters, this usually results in a house filled with clutter, or it being quietly tossed out. No-one wants this, but it seems to be something that happens time and time again. You may think that you know what someone wants, but everyone's had a bad gift experience, so if you’re not sure, remove the risk. How? With a Gift Card.
Make (and keep) a budget
Many families have gift budgets or limits for Christmas gifts - and with good reason. The present buying can quickly blow out. Yet sometimes even with a budget, they can be hard to stick to and still feel like you totally nailed it.
With a gift card, you don’t need to feel pressured to spend more than your budget for that perfect find, or splash out on things you can’t afford just to keep up with more affluent friends and family.
$50 budget = $50 gift card. Simple.
A gift for the person who “has everything”
We all know someone who is hard to buy for. They either have everything, are incredibly particular or point blank refuse gifts. If you still feel obliged to buy for them, then leave the choice up to them with… yep, you guessed it, a gift card.
Buy them a gift card for their favourite store, activity, subscription, etc. Alternatively you can buy a gift voucher to take them out for lunch - spend some quality time together.
This also means there’s no pressure in buying something for a specific date. Who knows, perhaps in a couple of month’s time they’ll finally need something, and they’ll be fully equipped with your oh-so-thoughtful Gift Card. That’s forward thinking.
Make it special
Some users may think a gift card is impersonal or lacking thought, but there’s still thought required (you still need to decide on what kind of gift card, right? That in itself can say a lot about a person) and shows you want to give them a choice too!
Still, if you're worried your recipient may think you’re being lazy, send them a gift card along with a recommendation link for something you picked out for them. That way you can still get brownie points for choosing something, but leave the final ‘add-to-cart’ up to them, eliminating any risk if you haven’t made the best choice. Adding a personal message alongside goes a long way too.
Economic realities and concerns
With the changing economic market and pandemic wreaking havoc on our economy, there are more people in poverty or losing their jobs this year. These people may NEED things that they don't want to ask for this Christmas. A gift card can go towards that without the pressure of asking and avoids unnecessary luxury items they may not need right now.
But I love buying Gifts!
The counter-argument, of course, is the pure joy of giving gifts; many thrive on this. No-one wants to hamper your generosity or extinguish the joy of getting a gift just right for a loved one.
But the harsh truth is, much of the time we simply aren’t getting that gift just right. And buying a gift isn’t just about gifters feeling good - it’s meant to bring joy to your giftee too. It’s far better for your recipient and the planet to give something useful and practical that won’t be wasted this year.
Okay, so it’s good for the user. What about the merchants?
What’s good for the geese is good for the gander. For you as a business, gift cards can streamline your workload this holiday season - reducing painful return and refund processes that waste both labour and shipping costs.
Not to mention the long game. Gift cards will introduce your website and product range to a wider audience of customers - as both the gifter and the giftee have to visit. Plus, it ensures that giftees can get what they want, when they want - increasing the chance of a positive interaction with your brand, and therefore, increases the chance of repeat business.
Convinced? We are. It’s time to get your customers on the bandwagon as well - think about doing an email campaign for all the reasons that gift cards are truly the greener & easier option this year.