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5 Methods to Exploit Digital Gift Cards for Holiday Sales

Digital gift cards are a simple solution for last-minute holiday shoppers. Prominently displaying these on your eCommerce site is a sure-fire way to boost sales as the holidays draw closer. Continue reading to learn why online gift cards are so important and how your online business can best utilize them.

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Does this sound familiar? It’s less than two days away from the biggest holiday of the year and you forgot to include your nephew on your shopping list. In a rush, you run to your favorite website to find something that can be delivered overnight.

Unfortunately there’s nothing available and overnight shipping is an extra 40 bucks. So instead, you pick up a digital gift card, print it out, and breathe easy. Your holiday shopping is now complete, all thanks to an online gift card.

Keep that scenario in mind as you prepare your site for the upcoming holiday eCommerce season. Prominently offering digital gift cards is the most effective, and simplest, way to appeal to convenience seekers and last-minute shoppers. But wait, isn’t giving an online gift card a copout? Wrong.

Gift cards are actually the most requested holiday gift for all age groups and backgrounds. Their flexibility for customization appeals to those who have ever received flannel socks or another ugly necktie.

Additionally, online gift cards have skyrocketed in popularity for holiday eCommerce sales. In 2009, online gift card sales increased by 1129% between November 27 and December 24. Christmas Eve was the highest-selling day of the year, with 40% of those purchased after 6 pm Eastern.

Despite these impressive statistics, online retailers are still behind the gift card curve. “Gift cards are such an important retail staple, yet many retailers’ offerings have not evolved to keep up with the changing needs of today’s consumer.

We were surprised that gift card offerings were often hard to find, difficult to navigate, and lacked follow-through for both the sender and recipient,” said Nikki Baird, RSR Research analyst and co-author of a report on digital gift cards. “This is an enormous missed opportunity for retailers, especially as we enter the most critical gifting season of the year.”

So how does your site take advantage of this for the holidays? Here are five simple suggestions:

  1. Prominently display gift cards on your site. If shoppers are in a hurry, help them out by explicitly listing your gift cards on your homepage. You can also create a dedicated category for them in the navigation of your ecommerce site.
  2. Incorporate gift cards into your marketing communications. Next time you send a newsletter or dedicated email, mention online gift cards in the content. It’s often as simple as telling customers that gift cards are an option.
  3. Clearly set expectations. If you have any special conditions on your gift card, like an expiration date, be sure to list that information in the product description.
  4. Give customers a reason to buy gift cards online. Consider offering an incentive for purchasing gift cards. Adding a bonus amount to the purchase is an effective tactic (e.g.  offering an extra $5 with a $50 gift card purchase).
  5. Make gift cards more personal. Despite their popularity, there is still a stigma about the lack of personality behind gift cards. Thus, allow customers to add gift notes or special comments to their order.

Online gift cards are a major cost saver for any online business owner during the busy holiday eCommerce season. First, there are no shipping charges involved. Secondly, when someone redeems their gift card, they either buy more than the gift card value or spend less than what’s available. Talk about a win-win from a profit perspective!