Blackhawk Network released the results from a survey this week that shows consumers want a convenient shopping experience this holiday season and will be using a mix of traditional, online and mobile ways to shop as a result. The survey took a look at how consumers research, purchase and give gifts as well as their mobile and online gifting habits, interests and preferences.
“Seamless omnichannel retailing has never been more important as we approach this busy shopping season,” said Teri Llach, Chief Marketing Officer at Blackhawk Network, a pioneer of prepaid gift cards, payments tools and rewards delivered via a robust and convenient network. “Consumers have more options than ever before to make their gift giving process easier and our research shows they will engage with a variety of cross-channel methods to research, purchase and give gifts this holiday season.”
Omnichannel shopping is still the top option. It imperative for retailers to meet consumer needs across multiple channels and provide them with a consistent and easy-to-use brand experience. According to the research:
- When researching gifts to purchase, more consumers look online (73 percent) rather than using other methods, like visiting physical retail outlets (66 percent) or asking people what they want to receive (46 percent).
- While most consumers still purchase gifts by visiting a physical retail outlet (84 percent), they also use a variety of digital channels to shop, including: online via computer (78 percent), via retailer apps (20 percent), online via smartphone (16 percent), and within social networks (five percent).
- When thinking about the upcoming holiday season, 52 percent of shoppers plan to purchase gifts digitally using their computer or mobile device, or via retailer mobile apps.
A majority of survey respondents are highly involved with online purchasing. Overall, 87 percent of consumers purchase gifts online because it’s more convenient (72 percent), it saves time (60 percent), and because there are better deals (56 percent) and more options to choose from (56 percent) online.
The most active online shoppers—millennials—are interested in adopting new or alternative ways of gift giving. Millennial consumers—especially those between ages 18 and 29—are also interested in adopting alternative ways of gift giving. According to the survey:
- Twenty-eight percent have or would be interested in purchasing a gift from within a social media platform.
- Forty-seven percent have or would be interested in using a gift card giving website that enables the recipient to link the gift card to their credit or debit card, similar to a digital wallet.
- Fifty-four percent have or would be interested in using a group gifting website that allows multiple people to contribute to a single gift.
- Sixty-one percent have or would be interested in redeeming their own loyalty points for a gift card or merchandise to give someone else.
Gift cards remain a popular gifting choice for the holidays, especially physical gift cards. According to the survey, 60 percent of respondents plan on giving some type of gift card this holiday season. Physical gift cards are the most popular choice of gift card giving, with 77 percent of consumers planning to give more physical gift cards than egifts this year. When consumers shop for physical gift cards, nearly half say they intend to purchase them at a grocery store (49 percent) or a big box retailer (47 percent) where there are broad selections of gift card options.
eGifts continue to grow in addition to physical gifts, with the egifting process being the key to success. Of consumers who will give gift cards this year, 27 percent plan to gift egifts or e-codes. To encourage greater egifting, it is important for retailers to make the process easy for shoppers and recipients. Consumers say they would give egifts primarily because they are a quick way to send a gift (53 percent) and are simple and convenient options for the gift giver (50 percent). However, 44 percent say they are concerned about how easy it would be for recipients to redeem egifts.
The adoption of mobile apps for gifting is currently low; consumers today prefer to shop for gift cards through retailer online channels. Mobile app use is relatively low, with 54 percent of consumers saying they don’t have any kind of mobile apps on their smartphones to purchase gifts. Only just over one-third (36 percent) would be interested in an all-purpose mobile app for gift giving, which would allow them to buy a variety of egifts, physical gifts and more. Instead, 57 percent of online shoppers would prefer to purchase gift cards from the app or website of the store with the same brand.