Giving Gift Givers More Options

Orange GiftThis post was originally posted on February 21, 2008. With the holiday season underway, and most of you new readers to Get Elastic, I’ve reposted it today in case you missed it the first time.

We do so much to encourage holiday gift shopping (or birthday, anniversary etc), but do we drop the ball in catering to the special needs of gift givers like gift boxes, gift wrapping, gift announcements / messages and gift receipts?

There are many ways you can accommodate gift givers to improve customer and recipient experience with gift options.

Gift Boxes & Gift Wrap

While it may be fine to ship something in a plastic bag or a brown box or a manila envelope (that’s what they send those MacAir computers in, right?), this doesn’t fly with gifts sent directly to the recipient. It also stinks for gift givers who ship items to themselves to wrap and give personally. The customer now has to find an appropriate box to put that personalized t-shirt in, and all he has kicking around is an empty GAP box from last Christmas. Providing a gift box solves a customer problem.

Then there’s gift wrapping. For some people, it’s a hassle. Gift wrap’s not cheap, and it may require an extra trip to pick it up at the drug store. And for customers who ship items direct to the gift recipient, it’s essential.

A couple examples: GAP offers one complimentary unassembled box for every three paid items ordered (why not one for one)? The other option is premium gift wrap service for $5 per order. Victoria’s Secret will send you a gift wrap kit for $3, or wrap the gift for you for $6.

Victoria’s Secret Gift Boxes

These add-ons also give you an opportunity to brand yourself to the recipient. If you sell items carried by many other retailers, the recipient has no clue where the gift giver bought the item. Why not put your logo on your gift box, or as a watermark on the white side of the gift wrap?

Whether you include gift wrapping or boxes as upsells or freebies is up to you – one will bring you easy additional revenue, the other a fantastic customer service experience.

Gift Messages

Gift messages can be sent in a number of ways – with a greeting card like Vermont Teddy Bear Co.:

Vermont Teddy Bear Card

Or an email message, or even a message the customer can print off themselves instantly, like Peanut Butter of the Month Club:

For that personal touch, you can print a full-color (or black and white) gift announcement right from your computer. Another great solution for that last-minute gift.

A number of retailers like Disney and ThinkGeek will print a gift message on the invoice, like “Happy Birthday, Jerry!” This is an option for people who don’t want to pay for anything extra but still want some kind of gift messaging option.

Disney Shopping Invoice Message

Gift Receipts

Multi-channel retailers like GAP and J.Crew can and do send gift receipts for return or exchange in-store across the country. If you’re an online-only store that offers free shipping both ways, you can also accommodate gift recipients that way.

From GAP:

If you indicate that your order is a gift, we will automatically include a gift receipt that lists the items, but not their prices. Items can be exchanged or returned through Gap Online or at any Gap, GapKids, or babyGap store in the U.S. with a gift receipt.

Gift Tags

Vermont Teddy Bear Co. has a fabric, embroidered tag for $6 that can be added to the gift-bear. Nice upsell, an alternative to a card.

Vermont Teddy Bear Gift Tag

Other Inserts

Even if your customer doesn’t request or opt-in to gift messages or any of the above, why not enclose some kind of flyer or insert that introduces the end-user with your brand and encourages them to visit your website?

If you’re selling electronics or gadgets – you can offer online product support. For shoes you could include a guide to protecting and cleaning your shoes. For cookware, include a glossy recipe with a link back to your site for more helpful cooking tips and recipes.

Or if you sell sports gear or young adult clothing, include a sticker for your shop that can be placed on binders, laptops and car bumpers. Make sure the logo/sticker has a “cool factor” that this age / lifestyle group would be proud to promote. And include your web address!

Tips

1. Show what the gift box/wrap look like to assure customer that it’s quality. Imagery helps. Here’s an example from Disney Shopping:

Disney Gift Wrap

Or the gift card design. Example from Vermont Teddy Bear Co.:

2. If you can’t offer it for all products, or have other special restrictions, make this clear on your gift options explanation page.

Example from J.Crew: “Unfortunately, gift boxes are not available for some larger and odd-sized items, like shoes.”

Example from Disney Shopping: “*NOTE: Gift Wrap and Gift Box options are predetermined based on the product. One or the other will be presented for you to choose. Some items may not include gifting options, as stated on the specific items’ product pages.”

3. Create a “Gift Options” page and link to it from your Customer Service submenu.
GAP is an example. It’s a good idea to mention it in your gift finder, on product pages and in your checkout. Examples from Disney Shopping and Blue Nile:

Disney Product Page

Blue Nile Checkout Gift Options

4. Specify the length of the message, and let the customer see how many characters are left (countdown).

5. Offer suggestions for message copy to help customers with “writer’s block”.
Examples from Vermont Teddy Bear Co. and Blue Nile:

Vermont Teddy Bear Message

Blue Nile Gift Cards

6. If possible, brand your boxes and wrapping with your company name or logo. Example, Lucky Jeans:

Lucky Brand Jeans Boxes

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8 Responses to “Giving Gift Givers More Options”

  1. Kristen says:

    We had to drop free gift wrap after we discovered it was killing us in costs. The extra expense wasn’t from the boxes/paper/ribbons, or the time it took to wrap, but from the additional costs to ship boxed items (versus shipping in tyvek bags).

    At the moment we only offer a gift message, but this post has inspired me to re-institute gift wrap…and charge for it this time.

  2. ashi says:

    hey its an interesting article…keep writing

  3. Manisha says:

    I share the views of the article’s author. Presentation is extremely important in gift-giving. As one of the commentors noted, the additional costs can add up, but I think it’s worth it when the recipient receives a beautifully packaged gift. It makes a lasting impression. At Wishwrap, we go the extra mile and offer free silk / suede packaging at no cost, and we know our customers really appreciate it.

  4. Excellent article, all B2C sites should have this option. There is an interesting opportunity here for a company to set themselves up as an e-commerce box/wrap supplier to the industry taking the comment above from Kristen into account.

  5. Excellent article of course. We have definitely done this during the past holiday season at WhatsShopping, customer satisfaction was high, and we had the opportunity to make new customers simultaneously.

  6. This is a great article. I had never thought of Tip #5 – Offer suggestions for message copy to help customers with “writer’s block”.

    You should repost this before every holiday season especially for those newer to e-commerce.

  7. Kristen says:

    Just a follow-up from my February comment: We added a gift wrap option to all of our items and now charge for it. We also offer a free alternative of a gift message on a gift receipt. Customer response has been very good. I’ve learned that the more options you can offer customer, the better, so I may also add the gift box/ribbon option as shown above for Victoria’s Secret.

  8. @Kristen, thanks for the follow up!

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