COMMENTARY

The overlooked weapons in your retail marketing arsenal

Sept. 5, 2017

Photo: iStock.com

ByKarey Crump, senior director, product marketing, Blackhawk Network

It's no secret the retail industry is in the midst of an evolution — evident by the fact retailers are shuttering brick-and-mortar locations as more consumers go online to shop. Retailers are trying to adjust to these changes by evaluating their marketing mix and seeking opportunities to offer better omnichannel shopping experiences, but may be falling flat.

Knowing shoppers are gravitating online isn't enough; successful retail marketers are amplifying shoppers' ecommerce experiences to meet and exceed expectations to stay ahead of the competition. As you search for ways to grow your business as consumers spend more online, you may be neglecting to get the most out of existing tools that can drive online sales, attract new customers and better engage and retain customers.

Although they've been around for years, gift cards and egifts are often overlooked as versatile — and popular— marketing tools that can help provide added value to consumers' ecommerce experiences beyond the payment process. Both can be spent online or in person and stored in mobile wallets, and can suit a multitude of shopper spending preferences. Marketers should consider the following benefits of successfully leveraging gift cards and egifts as tools to engage consumers, and learn how both can be effective in solving marketing pain points:

Encourage shoppers to convert at checkout and prevent cart abandonment. One part of the ecommerce experience that cannot typically be sidestepped is the checkout process. What marketers may not realize is that they can help elevate the path-to-purchase process to provide more seamless and meaningful conversions while helping boost the bottom line. Baymard Institute research found 69 percent of all ecommerce visitors abandon their shopping cart, translating to trillions in lost revenue. But there's hope — recent researchAnchor found 54 percent of respondents reported that receiving a gift card would motivate them to complete an online purchase — converting what could have been lost revenues into sales.

One reason shoppers may abandon an ecommerce purchase is if a retailer doesn't allow split tenders. Say a consumer is shopping online and the cart total is $68.50. The shopper has an egift for $50 they want to use, and would need to pay the remaining $18.50 balance via another payment method such as a debit or credit card. But not all retailers have enabled this functionality and instead require the full balance to be covered via a singular method of payment. Retailers may be unintentionally contributing to cart abandonment by creating a frustrating checkout process instead of urging consumers to complete the purchase seamlessly in a way that best suits their needs.

Drive customer acquisition and motivate shoppers to try something new. Now that there are increasingly more options at consumers' fingertips, marketers are finding it can be difficult to attract and retain new customers. Shoppers are being inundated with direct marketing via email, social media and other channels and are trying to shut out the deluge using adblocking technologies that can nullify retail marketers' efforts. Attracting new customers can be difficult, but gift cards and egifts can help cut through the noise. Nine in 10 of the respondents in our study would use a gift card or egift they received from a brand they had never tried before — opening the door to new reach new customers.

Offer innovative personal experiences. Consumers don't want to feel like just another face in the crowd and have come to expect personalized experiences in many facets of their lives — shopping included. In fact, research from Accenture Interactive found that offering personalized experiences can translate to higher sales — the study found 56 percent of consumers surveyed are more likely to shop at a retailer if the retailer simply recognizes them by name.

egifts are increasingly popular tools that can be customized in a variety of ways to keep retailers' brand and messaging front and center while providing consumers with an enjoyable ecommerce experience. Retailers can use egifts as rewards for consumers who make certain purchases as part of promotions, as an incentive for consumers to visit a retailer's website or as a means to encourage consumers to try something new.

In each of these instances, marketers can customize the messages and provide a personalized experience that heightens brand recognition and affinity. Conversely, when consumers give each other egifts, retailers can also provide customization options such as photo, video or written messages with minimal added time, cost or effort to enrich the gifting experience.

And, don't overlook the added value physical gift cards can provide to your ecommerce efforts. These can act as miniature billboards in a consumer's wallet when customized with the retailer's brand and can also be incorporated into mobile wallets — furthering your brand's connection with online shoppers.

Forge greater consumer affinity to brands and driving incremental spending. We have also uncovered data that show how gift cards and egifts can contribute to brand loyalty. Our research on loyalty and engagement found 44 percent of respondents that consider themselves "loyal" to a brand use gift cards and egifts for that brand, compared with 31 percent of consumers who say they are not loyal to a brand. Additionally, our research found that of the surveyed gift card users, 95 percent are satisfied when receiving a gift card and on average, the consumers surveyed report spending $27 over-and-above the original value of the gift card. Of the surveyed egift users, 93 percent are satisfied when receiving an egift and spend, on average, $29 over-and-above the original value of the egift. 

Ecommerce is a growing part of the retail industry and often marketers don't make the connection to use existing tools in their marketing arsenal to strengthen their program's output. Moving forward, marketers should use branded gift cards and egifts to help effectively attract new customers and deepen relationships with existing ones using informed marketing tactics. It's worth taking a look and evaluating whether you're using gift cards and egifts to maximize your retail marketing efforts.


Topics: Assisted Selling, Customer Service, Digital Merchandising, eCommerce, Marketing, Omnichannel / Multichannel, Online Retailing, Shopper Marketing


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