We Indians are big on the gifting culture. Have you ever visited anybody’s place without at least a small gift in your hand? These gifts and the brands they come from are long remembered. In the age of the internet, people buy everything online, including gifts.
In the dynamic landscape of e-commerce, the surge of one-time gift shoppers presents both an opportunity and a challenge. These seasonal consumers, often driven by the spirit of gift-giving and the allure of festive promotions, contribute significantly to a company’s short-term revenue. However, the real challenge lies in converting these transient buyers into long-term brand advocates who consistently engage with the brand beyond the festive season.
The first step in doing that is realizing that even though the last quarter receives the lion’s share of gift-purchasers, gifting really is a year-round retail opportunity. A one-time gifting experience can be turned into frequent purchases, as exhibited by the resounding success of Archies and Hallmark stores. Gift purchases can be segregated into 2 categories, buying gifts for,
● Festive occasions like Rakhi, Diwali, Christmas, Holi, Dussehra, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day. Valentine’s Day, and,
● Non-festive occasions like weddings, birthdays, anniversaries, new babies, etc.
To tap into the fast-growing gifting market set to hit USD 34.3 billion by 2026, online retailers must shift their focus from just closing a sale to cultivating a lasting relationship with their customers. Gifting provides an immense opportunity to do so because it allows brands to target 2 potential customers, the buyer, and the recipient, at once.
Why Do Loyal Customers Make the Best Brand Ambassadors?
Research shows that 65 per cent of a company’s total sales come from repeat customers. They are also 60%-70% more likely to buy from you than new ones who only have a 5 per cent-10 per cent chance. Loyalty is crucial to ambassadorship. It ensures your customers are not interested in comparison shopping and personally connect with your brand because you have consistently delivered on that promise.
These loyalists willingly spread positive word-of-mouth about their shopping experiences. And everybody in ecommerce knows that user-generated content increases credibility, brand awareness, and organic customer acquisition.
Curating the Best Gifting Experience
As we discussed above, crafting the best gifting experience can get brands two or more brand loyalists at once. Therefore, both pre and post-purchase customer journeys must be memorable and spotless.
1. Personalisation and Ease of Shopping
Allow customers to bring an added layer of thoughtfulness to their gifts by adding names, messages, or images. The ease of shopping online also makes a world of difference. Consider virtual try-ons or take it a notch up by offering a free home visit like Caratlane does to help customers get the actual feel of the product before buying it.
2. Flexible Shipping and Delivery
A lot of gift-buying happens last minute. So, in most cases, customers either buy gift cards or shop in-store because shipping takes time. To create a loyal brand advocate who will sing your brand’s praises to friends, family, and colleagues, you need to create a swoon-worthy experience.
Tying up with courier partners who offer expedited delivery is a must. Include hyperlocal delivery players who operate in your area to keep logistics costs down while providing on-demand shipping. Take, for example, IGP’s 1-day Rakhi Delivery and same-day delivery services that still let last-minute shoppers make it in time.
3. Returns and Exchanges
Everybody wants gifting to be a one-and-done activity. However, people buying apparel, footwear, and even accessories like rings and bracelets can face sizing issues. A brand must keep its return and exchange policies open to accommodate such customers. Sugar Cosmetics offers a 14-day ‘no questions asked’ return policy which invariably increases the brand’s fanbase.
Additionally, companies can use OTP-based confirmation via emails and SMS to do away with invoices and allow recipients to return or exchange gifts without involving the sender. They can also offer a self-serve returns portal so that customers can easily place return requests.
4. Good Packaging
Unboxing is a delightful aspect of the gifting experience, and it can’t be perfect without good packaging. Make your gift-wrapping services available all year round and invest in thoughtful packaging. This not only increases customer satisfaction but also enamors receivers, thereby heightening the chances of them shopping with you.
For example, Blue Tokai sends all its products with a personalized note to the receiver. The Body Shop also uses packaging to its advantage and offers gift bundles across a variety of price ranges.
5. Order Tracking
Knowing the live status of orders is important for every customer, but it is doubly so for the gift-giver. Gifts mean nothing if they don’t arrive on time. Make tracking a must-have in your gifting kit, and if possible, provide white-label tracking to customers for an in-brand experience. Feature.
In gifting especially, brands can create a touching moment by sending a congratulatory message (Happy birthday!, Happy Diwali, etc.) along with the sender’s name to the receiver on successful delivery.
6. Customer Support
Responsive Customer Support 89 per cent of ecommerce companies swear by an accessible customer support team for higher footfall and loyalty. Choosing the perfect gift can be tricky, and a little help from the brand can really help. Embed WhatsApp chatbots in your website to keep communication lines open 24/7 so customers can reach you even when you’re not present.
To reduce the need for assistance, add gift guides, and offer recommendations based on a pre-filled form with information on the recipient’s age, sex, hobbies, etc.
The Path to Advocacy
By prioritizing the customer journey from the first click to the delivery of the product, ecommerce businesses have a golden opportunity to establish a loyal customer base that not only makes repeat purchases but passionately advocates for the brand. In the digital landscape, where trust and authenticity are paramount, this strategy can be the key to long-term success.
Naman Vijay, Co-founder & CEO, Clickpost