When you’re building out a strategy for your store, of course you think about your target audience. How to reach them, what content they’ll find useful, how to convert them, and so on. It’s a natural part of running any online business. But what about the people buying for your target audience?
Gift buying is a big part of retail in general. Whether someone’s looking for a birthday gift, or several people are shopping for a big holiday. There will always be a portion of your sales that come down to gifts. Yet there’s often not a lot of focus given to this key audience. They often have less product or brand knowledge, as well as different budgets and needs to your usual customer.
So how do you attract gift buyers? And how can you do so in a way that feels authentic while also being driven by strategy? Let’s talk about it.
Start by assessing your store’s gifting opportunities
Like any other product in your store, you need to start with a little bit of product development and market research. In other words, you want to understand the actual opportunity of creating gift products. Then follow up with assessing how well your store currently takes advantage of that opportunity, and what more you could be doing.
One way to assess the opportunity of gifting is to look at the occasions when someone might want to give your products as a gift. Generally, reasons will fall into two categories - year-round, and seasonal.
Year-round gifting would include occasions like birthdays, anniversaries, as well as one-off congratulatory gifts for things like the birth of a baby, a new job, or a new home. This can be a little more difficult to assess, as you won’t have a noticeable increase in sales like with seasonal gifting. Instead, you can make some reasonable assumptions about the kind of occasions someone would buy a gift for from your store. For example, if you sell primarily baby clothing and accessories then you can reasonably expect that people may buy a gift for new parents. You wouldn’t then focus on gifts for new jobs, as that kind of occasion isn’t relevant. Create a list of all the year-round occasions that make sense for your store and products.
Seasonal gifting would include any major gifting event that happens every year such as Christmas, Hanukkah, Valentine’s Day, and so on. This is a little easier to assess, as you’ll likely already have some idea of which holidays have the most sales lift year to year. Look at your store data throughout the year, and highlight any peak sales periods. Once you rule out outliers like major sales, you can start to look at which gifting events fall around the same time period as these sales increases. Equally, it’s worthwhile looking at any holidays for which your products would be suitable as gifts but you don’t see as big an increase in sales. This can indicate an opportunity that you maybe haven’t explored.
After you’ve identified the opportunities throughout the year for gift buying, it then comes time to review what your store already does to service gift buyers.
- - Do you sell gift cards? What is the experience like buying one? How are these surfaced/presented on your store?
- - What gift options do you offer - gift wrapping, gift notes, etc? How easy are these to add to an order?
- - Do you sell other gift products - bundles, gift subscriptions, etc.? How are these promoted?
Now you know the opportunities, and what you currently offer. This will give you a clear picture of what your current gift strategy looks like, and help to focus your attention on what more you could be doing and when you should be doing it.
How to better attract gift buyers to your store
#1 - Offer better gift products
Attracting gift buyers has to start with the gift products you actually offer. Many merchants will have a gift card, but gifting often goes beyond that. After all, customers will research products as well as looking at gift cards - they won’t always immediately think about buying one. However, let’s start with gift cards given they’re the most obvious.
Having a gift card available is great, but what does the experience look like? In most cases, the gift card is bought as a normal product then sent to the original customer. They can then forward it to their recipient, or print it out. The experience can however look a lot better than this.
When buying a gift product, customers want to have that same experience as if they bought a product. If they buy a physical product, they’ll wrap it, add a gift tag, and give it to their recipient on the right date even if they buy it in advance. So why shouldn’t gift cards offer a similar experience? Using apps like Govalo, merchants can give their customers a much more personalized gift card experience. Customers can add the recipient’s name and email address, add a gift note, and choose the date it will be sent on. This brings things more in line with the classic gift giving experience, and is just a bit more personal.
As for other gift products, you can also offer things like gift subscriptions. Again, the typical way most stores offer this is just by buying a normal subscription. However, that often requires the customer to pause the subscription right away, then hand over the account eventually when they give the gift. If you’re already using Govalo for your gift cards, then you might consider looking into its subscription features also. This allows customers to buy a subscription as a gift - they can fill out the same details as they would for a gift card, and the recipient gets a link to redeem their subscription whenever they choose to.
Other examples of gift products might be product bundles which are more targeted towards gifting. These can be set at different prices to suit different budgets, and be specifically named “gift bundles”.
Ultimately, having better gift products and a wider range of gift products offers customers flexibility. They have more options open to them, rather than feeling limited in what they can buy as a gift. If they’re feeling overwhelmed by your catalog and they have little product education, there are options there for them.
#2 - Make those gift products visible on your store
If it isn’t easy to find a product page, it’s probably not reasonable to expect customers to buy it. Just as you make your products visible and obvious on your store, you need to do the same for gift products. Otherwise gift buyers won’t even consider them - they won’t know they’re there! Surfacing your gift products is vital, especially in the run up to those major gifting events. Thankfully, this can be easily done in a way that’s both authentic and doesn’t distract from your usual products.
#1 - Create a gift category and add it to your primary navigation
Your store’s main menu is a prime place for drawing attention to your gift products. Many merchants choose to add a “Gifts” category to their primary navigation - this may then also have subcategories based on price or theme. If you prefer to keep your primary navigation to just a few simple options, you could instead add it as its own subcategory under “Shop”.
#2 - Add a temporary gift collection to your store during key periods
Another option if you want gifts to be a more seasonal focus is to create temporary collections in Shopify that you add to your store. These can be filled with gift ideas in each of your shop’s categories, creating an easy resource for gift buyers.
#3 - Add gift cards to your sitemap
The sitemap at the bottom of your store is a valuable resource for customers. It can link them to pages that they might find useful that don’t necessarily have an obvious place in your primary menu. This often includes gift cards, so customers can easily access the link to buy one if they’re browsing your store and decide a gift card is a better fit.
#4 - Make it easy to buy a gift card if a product is out of stock
Gift buyers will put a lot of effort into researching a product. If they finally decide to buy it and it’s sold out, it can feel like they’ve got no other choice but to go back to the drawing board. To mitigate that, you can use Govalo to add the option to buy a gift card when a product or variant is out of stock. This gives customers an easy, convenient alternative right on the product page.
Especially by adding gift products to your primary navigation and sitemap, you make it that much easier for customers to access gifts from anywhere on your store. No matter what page they’re on, they can immediately find your gift products.
#3 - Promote gift products at key times and to key audiences
Similarly to surfacing gift products on your site, you also need to promote them. It’s fairly common to promote products as gift ideas in the run up to major gifting events. However options like gift cards usually only see promotional activity when it becomes a “last minute” option. This kind of promotion can make customers believe that gift cards are only a last resort when they can no longer order a gift. The truth really is that they’re a great option for gifting no matter if someone is ordering the night before Christmas or 4 weeks before!
That’s why it’s valuable to promote your gift products on your various marketing channels in the run up to holidays. It means that you’re putting them on the same level as your other products, and making sure your customers are aware of the various options available. Channels might include email and SMS which will typically target your existing audience, or social media and on-site which can target both existing and new customers.
With existing customers, you have another unique opportunity for both year-round and seasonal marketing. Say a customer has previously purchased a gift card, this means they might be in the market for gift products around the same time the following year. You could then create an email automation that promotes your gift products around that date if a customer purchases a gift product. The same then applies to customers who buy gift products around holidays.
#4 - Create more gifting content for your store
Attracting customers isn’t just about having the products available, you need content to back those products up. It means gift buyers landing on your site will have content that appeals to them and is useful as they research gift options. This additional content will also be valuable for your store’s SEO.
Gift guides can be written to suit seasonal events like Christmas, as well as year-round occasions like birthdays. These can then include target keywords that you wouldn’t normally plan for your standard customers, adding modifiers like “gifts”, “gift ideas”, and so on. These can then attract potential customers through search results pages, boosting your reach with gift buyers.
Other content you can create might include a gift landing page. This could feature your gift products in more detail, gift ideas, and information about any gift options you offer like wrapping. It may also be useful to add a gifting FAQ which details relevant information for gift buyers e.g. how gift returns work.
People are buying gifts all the time. Whether it’s a personal occasion, or for a widely celebrated holiday. They might be buying for just one person, a joint gift for a couple, or a whole list of friends and loved ones. In any case, being prepared to meet their needs with flexible, easily accessible options is a valuable asset for your Shopify store.