By Render Dahiya
There is a lot of talk these days about switching to virtual, digital and mobile payments. We hear every day about how soon we’ll be paying for holiday shopping sprees with our phones instead of our wallets and plastic gift cards. However, you probably didn’t know that the vast majority of Americans still prefer physical gift cards to electronic ones. Shocked? Don’t be fooled by all the hype surrounding mobile payments. Your organization will still benefit from offering traditional gift cards to buyers.
In a recent survey of a thousand U.S. shoppers, the Retail Gift Card Association found that 79 percent actually preferred to give a physical card as a gift, as opposed to a digital card. Additionally, 54 percent of shoppers hadn’t even heard of mobile/e-gifting, and only one percent planned to give only e-gift cards in the future. While some early adopters will always prefer more tech-savvy means of purchasing, it’s important not to overlook what the majority of folks are doing, and are comfortable with using.
Digital gifting programs
Most retailers regularly reinforce this point when they hire a company to create a digital or mobile social gifting program. In most cases, after their digital program has launched, they end up also creating a supplemental physical card offering to reach the large numbers of potential customers that aren’t interested in their digital tools. This doesn’t mean that digital gifting isn’t a great option. In fact, digital and physical cards very much complement each other, as digital gifting provides a great option for last-minute gifts that extend the sales season to supplement your holiday earnings, or at any time of year.
However, digital gifting cannot yet stand alone. Facebook recently shut down its digital gifting program when it was deemed unsuccessful, and other social media platforms have now added a card element to their offerings. By providing physical cards in addition to a digital gifting option, this “multi-channel” approach offers your customers more choice and improved ability to personalize their cards, thereby making them more satisfied and more likely to recommend your brand.
On-demand card production
There are ways you can provide these options to customers while protecting and even improving your bottom line. Traditional card production companies require brands to forecast card volumes and types ahead of time, and then invest in and store costly inventory, which is especially difficult around the holidays. Preprinted inventory increases operating costs, risk, and reduces flexibility, which can have significant opportunity cost if you’ve made the wrong bet on seasonal trends or consumer demands.
By contrast, using an on-demand card production model is the most efficient way to offer physical cards, and provide myriad personalization options. Customer affinity is built when consumers can personalize the gifting experience, using options like a greeting card with custom gift tags, labels or other creative packaging.
Multi-channel gifting programs are a must for retailers. They provide a seamless brand experience for your customers. By investing in your physical card program, in addition to digital gifting, you can continue to reach the vast majority of American shoppers and capitalize on every moment of the upcoming holiday season, along with the every day gifting that can support your business year round.