This blog is the last from our 4 part series on the state of gifting. Read our first one here.
Digital technologies have dramatically changed the way we live our lives on a global scale, reconfiguring the way people interact today and ushering in a new age of connectivity and convenience.
It isn’t surprising that 64% of people sleep with their mobile phones next to them. In fact, when faced with a decision to choose what they would give up for a week, 60% of people said they would give up chocolate or caffeine rather than their mobile phone.
Stepping into the realm of e-commerce, we can also observe how technological improvements have supercharged the industry. Today, you order anything from the convenience of your desk, and have services like Google Shopping Express or Amazon Prime deliver to you within a few hours.
While these new norms of technology have enabled us to conveniently connect and communicate with others, people have begun to wonder whether these new mediums of communication are dehumanizing society. Sherry Turkle, a professor at MIT spoke about how new mediums may have a dehumanizing effect by removing critical feedback loops (such as visual and auditory responses) that are central to communication.
Similarly, gifting has the potential to become a detached and impersonal experience. Some would argue that instant messaging has diminished our social experience, leading to fewer face-to-face interactions. The same can be said for gifting, as more and more people turn to giving gift cards as an easy, quick gifting experience.
In our previous blog posts, we looked into the ubiquitous gift card and its digital counterpart. Indeed, the convenience and flexibility of gift cards have made it the de-facto ‘go-to’ gift solution for many. On the other hand, gift cards are still impersonal by nature, as the buyer has given up selecting an actual gift and has instead given the recipient cash to make their own decision. Even its digital counterpart is not spared the criticism; concerns are raised as digital gift cards are seemingly more impersonal as a bunch of numbers.
Therefore, gift cards might not suit recipients who expect a more personal touch from their gifts. Some would never purchase gift cards. Others might purchase a gift card for one occasion but not another.
However, every cloud has a silver lining.
While it is true that innovations can diminish personal interaction, it is these same advances in technology that create new avenues for people to improve and succeed in gifting to loved ones, enabling them to reach out in ways that were previously not possible.
Loop was created to make the gifting process more personalized than ever with the intent of allowing the recipient to receive something they truly love. Mega beauty brands Lancôme and Urban Decay have been hailed “winners” by integrating Loop’s e-gifting solution into their platform, allowing senders to purchase “hard to gift” items such as clothes, shoes and beauty products, at the same time giving recipients the flexibility to customize or exchange the gifts before they ship. Macy’s was recently recognized as an innovator, using e-gifting as the latest advancement in digital gift buying. Loop’s solution integrates the flexibility of a gift card with the thoughtfulness of an actual gift, and ultimately, reduces the rate of returns and exchanges for retailers.
About a decade ago, customers believed physical gift cards were too impersonal to make “good” gifts; but gift cards have since evolved into a $113-billion industry. There is still a time and place for physical gift cards. For example, a customer may purchase a gift card for a friend but not for a close loved one or for recipients whom they are going to meet in person.
Just think how much larger the actual market opportunity can be if retailers were able to cater to additional use cases?
Digital technologies have the innate ability to shift the focus of retailers from processes to people, affording customization, and transforming impersonal processes to become people-centric. It is only the beginning of an exciting journey for retailers to offer customers a truly thoughtful and emotional gifting experience.
Loop is at the forefront of creating a personal way to gift through the use of technology. As you’ve read, the benefits of our technology to retailers and consumers is tremendous. By integrating Loop’s turnkey solution, retailers address some of their major pain points, including costs of returns and exchanges, cart abandonment and customer acquisition. Technology is changing the way consumers buy goods, including gifts, and as a result, most have come to expect immediacy and options. There’s no doubt that technology will continue to push retailers to look for new and creative ways to gain and retain customers, and consumers will continue to expect options when it comes to gifting online and in brick-and-mortar stores.
In the face of such expectations and broader technology trends, we can imagine how e-gifting might evolve over the next two, five or even ten years. Consider an e-gifting future in which the gift-giver receives not only an auto-reminder of a birthday, but the kind of gifts the friend has received in the past, a reminder of the friend’s interests, and even specific suggestions for the most appropriate gift within a price range. Whatever the future holds, Loop Commerce will be leading innovation in that direction.