Wednesday, February 25th, 2015
By Gary Lombardo, VP of Marketing, Cashstar
Omni-channel: Quite possibly the most overused word in the retail industry the past several years, but with good reason. From a budget and strategic priority perspective, omni-channel remains a top priority for retailers – they know it’s wildly important to the success of their business, especially in such a competitive environment. And as shoppers continue to view retailers as one brand with one brand experience, they will continue to expect all those brand experiences – regardless of channel – to be consistent and seamless as they move from one channel to the next.
In fact, according to a new survey as many as 86 percent of marketers agree that omni-channel has increased consumer expectations (source: SAP). These same marketers recognize the need to adapt in order to keep pace with evolving expectations of today’s shopper. Eighty-six percent agree that the benefits of investing in an omni-channel approach clearly outweigh the challenges.
These expectations are not limited to consistent merchandise selection, pricing and available inventory across channels, but now extend to payments – including gifting. Retailers’ gifting programs are a perfect example of an experience that has the ability to easily cross channels (if executed correctly), yet needs to do so seamlessly to satisfy not one but two shoppers – the buyer and the recipient. And that’s a clear weakness for way too many retailers, as their gifting programs still center around plastic cards which do not lend themselves well to omni-channel strategies.
Digital gift cards, on the other hand are inherently flexible – they are always with the shopper, always available – not lost or forgotten, which happens all too often with plastic cards.
Digital gift cards benefit retailers’ omni-channel strategies in a number of ways, including:
But perhaps the most underexplored benefit inherent in digital gifting is its ability to influence customer behavior. With digital gifting, retailers no longer need to rely on discounts to drive consumer behavior or move seasonal inventory. Digital gift and prepaid cards can be leveraged as branded retail currency that marketers can use to deliver custom promotions. For instance, instead of offering $25 off a $100 purchase — a net of $75 for the retailer, they can instead extend an offer to shoppers to spend $100 and receive a $25 digital gift card. Not only does this approach net the full $100, but also drives a second visit that will net additional revenue past the $25 value of the card.
The fundamental goal of omni-channel is to create easy, enjoyable and consistent experiences regardless of the channel the consumer chooses to shop. Digital gifting not only enables retailers to deliver a gifting option that works across channels, but creates new opportunities for retailers to deliver personalized brand experiences proven to influence shopper behavior. The positive user experiences that result will breed repeat behavior and retailers will be rewarded with more satisfied and loyal customers.