MARKETING/SOCIAL MEDIA

Survey: Digital gift cards rising in popularity

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Portland, Ore. — Research conducted by InComm found that 67% of consumers surveyed have previously bought a gift card from an online website or mobile website/app, while 33% have not.

Respondents answered questions about their purchasing habits and their intentions for purchasing gift cards from websites and mobile devices – as well as digital cards specifically – this holiday season and beyond.

Highlights of the survey include:

  • 88% agree they’re likely to purchase at least one gift card from an online website or mobile website/app this holiday season, with 77% likely to purchase at least one digital gift card;
  • Of those who intend to purchase gift cards from online websites or mobile websites/apps this holiday season, 20% plan to purchase more than 5 gift cards;
  • 40% prefer to have a digital gift card scanned from their phone rather than carry an email printout;
  • Nearly 70% strongly agree that they are more interested in purchasing digital gift cards now than they were two to three years ago;
  • Nearly 20% of those who have purchased gift cards from online websites or mobile websites/apps purchase five-seven cards annually.

"Brands can dramatically improve sales throughout the year – especially at the holidays – by opening up gift card sales through all channels,” said Mike Fletcher, senior VP Sales and Marketing, Digital Solutions, InComm. “This research shows that consumers want more options for buying and sending gift cards, giving retailers even more reason to expand their offering and ensure an optimal shopping experience for the gift giver and receiver."

Of those who have bought a gift card from an online website or a mobile website/app, 36% have purchased a physical gift card, while 33% have purchased a digital gift card and 31% have purchased both. A digital gift card was defined as a card that is emailed to the recipient, and a physical gift card defined as a traditional gift card that is shipped to the recipient. When asked how many gift cards they purchase from online websites or mobile websites/apps annually, respondents answered:

  • 29% purchase 1
  • 36% purchase 2-4
  • 19% purchase 5-7
  • 9% purchase 8-10
  • 8% purchase more than 10

Eighty-eight percent of respondents strongly agree or agree that they’re likely to purchase at least one gift card from an online website or mobile website/app this holiday season, while 77% strongly agree or agree that they are likely to purchase at least one digital gift card.

Beyond the holidays, 82% of respondents strongly agree or agree that they are likely to buy at least one gift card from an online website or mobile website/app in 2014, while about 75% agree that they are likely to buy at least one digital gift card.

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MARKETING/SOCIAL MEDIA

Survey: Consumers buying online value stress-free, on-time delivery

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Oakland, Calif. — Current consumer behavior indicates that most consumers are more concerned with how well retailers are able to deliver goods according to customer preferences than about ordering via social media channels.

A GT Nexus online survey, conducted in association with YouGov, showed that while 3% of respondents say they have purchased goods using social media channels, consumers generally cite the inclusion of delivery/collection options as being important to them when ordering a product either online or in-store (75%).

The survey also found that consumers consider it important that their expectations of delivery times are fulfilled. European consumers surveyed are less tolerant, with an average of 65% expecting delivery of purchases made online within three days or less – whereas in the U.S. only 24% of consumers expect delivery in that time frame.

“These results show that retailers are potentially focusing their investments on the wrong thing,” said Greg Johnsen, CMO, GT Nexus. “Obviously, having a good front-end multi-channel strategy in place is important, but what some may be missing is that it’s the back-end of the multichannel strategy that will ultimately influence consumers’ propensity to order from a particular retailer. It is completely pointless to have fancy user interfaces across all channels if you cannot deliver when and where a consumer wants to receive your goods.”

Showrooming will only add to this requirement for retailers to get physical stock levels, delivery and collection options right at the back-end, according to the research. Consumers in the U.K. (62%), U.S. (64%) and France (70%) say they have engaged in showrooming over the last twelve months.

Currently, effective cross-channel inventory management to enable efficient fulfillment of consumer orders differs in quality across the globe. 31% of US consumers report that they have queried stock availability in a physical store using online tools, and then found the product out-of-stock when going to the store. This practice is less prevalent in Europe. On average for Europe, 13% of consumers reported that this is an issue they have run into.

Another area in which retailers could improve their performance is getting the back-end support for ‘recommendation engines’ improved. The GT Nexus online survey shows that despite the widespread use of merchandising related products in online stores, retailers have not cracked the issue of delivering related products (such as an iPod and headphones, or a bike with a helmet) ordered at the same time, together. U.K. retailers appear to do best at this, although a significant 34% of U.K. consumers stated that they had this experience at least once. Almost half of consumers in the U.S. (46%) and France (45%) say they have experienced this issue at least once.

Eighty-six percent of those surveyed said they would wait longer for a delivery if promised a 10% discount on their purchase. This is an interesting contradiction to the finding that consumers expect goods to be delivered in a short time span. When offered only a slight discount, their willingness to wait for a product vastly increases.

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FINANCE

Christopher & Banks quarterly profit more than doubles

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Minneapolis — Christopher & Banks Corp. reported that net income for the quarter ended Nov. 2 rose to $8.6 million, from $3.6 million in the same period last year.

Sales edged up to $118.1 million from $117.3 million, and same-store sales increased 4.9%.

During the quarter, the retailer operated an average of 7.3% fewer stores than during the comparable period last year, reflecting its store rationalization program.

“We attribute our positive performance to the continued refinement of our merchandise strategy, greater focus on targeted marketing programs, optimization of our multi-channel opportunities and our enhanced store experience,” said LuAnn Via, president and CEO.

For the fourth quarter of fiscal 2013, the company said it expects same-store sales to increase in the low single digit range as compared to the same period last year.

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