- PROJECT HELP
By Theresa McEndree, vice president of marketing, Blackhawk Engagement Solutions
One of the most talked about gifts this holiday season might not be a physical one, but a digital one. According to a recent Mercator Advisory Group study, egifts accounted for 18 percent of the reported gift card loads in 2015, an 80 percent increase from the previous year. With the rise in popularity among consumers, retailers are beginning to leverage egifts for more than just products to sell and are incorporating them into reward and rebate programs.
Electronic gift cards, or egift cards, are delivered digitally, including via email, SMS text, social media or app, and can be redeemed either in-store or by using the gift code online. Ease-of-use, personalization options and fast delivery are a few of the reasons egifts are quickly increasing in popularity.
Here's why, in addition to being a valuable gift option, egifts are also a valuable rebate reward or incentive option for retailers and consumers around the holidays.
Savvier shoppers combined with innovation in retail have transformed the landscape of holiday shopping into an omnichannel experience. Consumers quickly move from shopping at brick-and-mortar stores to shopping online or on their mobile devices and back, and want to do so seamlessly. According to a recent study by the Retail Gift Card Association, omnichannel flexibility is key for consumers, with 87 percent of gift card recipients wanting to be able to redeem their cards online or in-person as they choose. Egifts responds to this desire better than other promotional rewards.
Around the holidays, some shoppers may like to use loyalty program and rebate rewards to help offset the cost of holiday shopping and gift giving. Retailers can make it easy for shoppers to redeem and use their rewards via various channels or even gift them to someone else. Once an egift reward is received, the recipient can print it out, store it on their phone, save it to their mobile wallet—or, in some cases—re-gift it to someone else entirely.
When a traditional reward check is cashed, a consumer's experience with the brand is over. With egifts, however, the brand can remain top of mind for much longer. First, the reward is received via email, text or app, and the retailer's messaging is present. Next, as the reward is saved or stored, it acts as a mini billboard in the recipient's mobile wallet or inbox. Finally, when the reward is redeemed, the recipient is reminded of his or her engagement with the retailer.
Directing spendback is also valuable during the holidays. Unlike checks, egifts offered by retailers as rewards incent shoppers to return to that store (online or in person) and, according to the consumer gift card survey by RGCA, the consumers surveyed typically spend more than they have on a gift card by $20.
As retailers plan their holiday promotional and loyalty strategies, egifts should be considered for inclusion in the reward mix as a win-win option. Recipients will appreciate the flexibility, ease-of-use and fast delivery. Plus, retailers can find value in the additional opportunities for brand messaging and interaction with their consumers during the hectic and crowded holiday marketing season.