Customer experience is one of the most important factors in building a successful online store - 73% of customers say experience has an impact on their purchasing decisions. Competing on product can be difficult, especially if you have a high number of like-for-like competitors. Competing on price is even more difficult, as you don’t want to end up in a “race to the bottom” on the value of your products. So, for many merchants, it comes down to experience.
After all, you could have a great product but if your customer experience is lacking, customers may not place an order in the first place, never mind returning for another.
The same logic and principles apply to when customers are looking for gifts. Even more so, in fact. When it comes to gifts, there’s no guarantee of product or value awareness with the customer. They may not know why your product is better than a competitor’s, they may not know if your pricing is fair. So, experience becomes even more important in clinching that sale.
The best way to improve the gift buying experience, is to actually think like those gift buyers. Consider what their needs are, what issues they face, and the kind of solutions you can provide that will put you far and above your competitors.
Why you should think like your gift buying customers
The idea is simple - think like your customers, identify their needs, and build solutions into your customer experience. We’ve all purchased a gift at some point or another, so most of us understand what it’s like to be on a tight deadline, or have a specific budget, or not know someone’s t-shirt size.
That means we have a good understanding of what we ourselves would want from the gift buying experience. In a way, it makes it even easier to build a great gift buying experience than building your usual customer experience. With your target audience, you’re having to think about different personas, and customers who may think differently to each other. With gift buyers, you’re able to draw from your own experiences to some degree.
So, start by thinking about the different scenarios you may encounter when looking to buy a gift online. From there, you can think of what the solution may be. Today, we’re going to look at some example scenarios to get you started.
“I don’t know what to buy!”
Many of us have been there - you have to buy a gift, and you’re not sure what to buy. Even if you have gift guides or bundles available, there will be customers who have low product or brand awareness. What this can lead to is an uninformed customer making a purchasing decision they aren’t confident about. In turn, this can result in a poor experience for their recipient - in one survey, 62% of US consumers said they expect to get an unwanted gift over the holiday season.
Lessen the stress on gift buyers, and offer options that don’t require them to make a decision right off the bat. The primary solution being gift cards. These give customers a gift that will go down well with recipients, and can be purchased easily. While many stores offer gift cards, you need to ensure the experience they offer is up to scratch.
Promote gift cards by including them in those gift guides, as well as in any gift related collections in your store. Go a step further by adding it to your site’s primary navigation, and sending it as a suggestion to cart abandonments that contain gift items.
“I want to get more than just a gift card”
Despite the growing popularity of gift cards, there still exists a stigma that gift cards aren’t personal enough. For some customers, they may want to give more than a gift card, but with the same convenience. Perhaps they’re down to the wire for a shipping deadline, and still want to give something they perceive as more substantial. Or maybe they just want to give something that feels more like an actual product than a gift card.
Gift subscriptions are a great option for customers who want to give something more than a gift card, but without the stresses of choosing a physical gift. They’re still technically buying a product, just they don’t have to worry about what to get.
Their recipient still gets the joy of opening a gift, as well as being able to tailor their preferences to ensure they get something they’ll actually want in their subscription delivery.
“What if the gift I ordered doesn’t arrive on time?”
Especially in the run up to holidays, or even to special occasions, customers worry about their gifts arriving late. 61% fear holiday gifts won’t arrive on time, and 65% say they’d stop shopping with a brand after 2-3 late deliveries. No one wants to have to give a gift late, so they want options that will safeguard them from this happening.
There are a couple of solutions you can implement to help ease the concerns of worried gift buyers. The first is by offering a more robust, better promoted gift card option. You can extend this to other gifts, such as subscriptions. Give customers more personalization options like adding in a gift note, selecting a date to send it on, and sending it directly to their recipient. This gives them easy, fast options that won’t rely on couriers. Promote these gift options throughout your site, putting them on equal footing with other gift products.
The second solution applies if you have a physical storefront. Offer a range of fulfillment options such as buy online, pick-up in-store, or the ability to check in-store availability. This gives them additional options to satisfy their gifting needs. And if you want to really improve the flexibility of your gift options, you should make it so gift cards purchased online can also be used in-store.
“I want to give a subscription as a gift, but there isn’t an easy way to do it”
The problem here is more with the merchant than it is the customer. Say you offer a really great subscription product - a curated box of coffee and equipment, for example. You have a fully realized, excellent customer experience for new subscribers. But what about when a subscription is given as a gift? For some merchants, they don’t offer a specific gift option for subscriptions, or they need to use some kind of workaround. This means in many cases, the customer has to complete checkout as if they were a new subscriber, instead entering the details of their recipient. This then may require an account hand-over, and it can become confusing and time-consuming for the customer.
If you have a subscription product or it’s your primary product, it’s time to offer a real gift option. Make it super simple and quick for the customer and their recipient. By integrating Govalo with either Recharge or Bold Commerce, you can offer a gift subscription option that prioritizes the customer experience.
This makes it so the customer gives the subscription to their recipient as if it were a gift card. The recipient can then redeem the subscription whenever they want, and fill out their details along with payment details for when the gifted period ends. This puts the recipient in control, and gives you the opportunity to send them any onboarding information such as quiz flows to customize their subscription.
“What was their size again…?”
So, you’ve found the perfect gift. You go to add it to your cart…and you can’t remember what your recipient’s size is. Or you do, but you get to checkout and you want to send it directly…and you can’t quite remember their zip code. It’s a pretty common situation, and there aren’t many merchants able to offer a real solution to that. For many customers, they’ll just give up and try something else. However, what if there was a way to work around this problem?
It’s time to give recipients the ability to choose their preferences. Govalo’s giftable products features makes it so your customer can opt to send a product as a gift, and the recipient can choose the options that suit them best. It’s sent via email the same as a gift card, and the recipient then selects their preferred option along with entering their delivery details.
The original customer receives a link to a pre-filled checkout, where they complete the purchase. The recipient gets the joy of opening a gift, and the customer doesn’t need to stress about the details.
Buying gifts can be stressful. It’s up to you as the merchant to make the gift buying process as pain-free as possible, giving customers flexibility and variety. Doing so will improve your customer experience, and make it more likely that you’ll retain not only the original customer, but their recipient as well.