There’s an article in Forbes about how companies like Home Depot, The Container Store, and CVS are adding electronic gift cards to their Websites. Well, it’s about time. It shouldn’t take a lot of analysis to see that gift cards can be a lucrative piece of online functionality. Why wouldn’t you help customers just give you money?!?
If you are deploying online gift cards, here are some ideas for improving the experience:
- Merchandise it. Make sure that customers can find a clear path to gift cards from the homepage.
- Make it easy to do multiples. Consumers often shop for several people at one time around the holidays, so make the process easy to generate several gift cards in a single session.
- Allow flexible amounts. Don’t lock customers into specific amounts for gift cards (which replicates some offline gift cards), since there’s no reason to fit into their budget.
- Schedule delivery. Don’t make customers wait until the day before a key event to buy a gift card. Allow them to buy it any time they want, but schedule delivery for a later date.
- Create delivery options. Some customers may want to send the gift notice directly from the company, but others may want to email it themselves or hand something to the recipient. Think through these options; even consider offering gift cards through the (regular) mail.
- Encourage gifting. If your company has a rewards program, think about giving customers some type of credit when they buy gift cards. Otherwise, you may want to offer some other incentives for this highly desirable customer behavior.
- Enhance the giftee experience. When someone receives a gift card from your company, it should be the start of a special experience — that fully reinforces your brand. So design the entire experience. A happy recipient will encourage more gifting!
- Don’t forget usability. Poor usability can drag down any gift card offering. Make sure that your gift card functionality is very easy to use. In particular, watch out for the top issues we found in our evaluation of 100’s of Web Sites: text illegibility, inefficient task flow, and obscure privacy/security policies.
The bottom line: Try and capture every gifting opportunity.