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Posted October 27, 2015

digital gift card

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We have talked recently on the rise of omnicommerce in business-to-business transactions—allowing purchasing departments to complete all or part of their transactions online—but with the holiday season around the corner, the omnicommerce idea will be a big topic for merchants and one of the leading indicators is that of digital or e-gift cards.

The combination of ecommerce, m-commerce, mobile payments, and brick and mortar stores, the consumer-facing omnicommerce world includes one vastly different concept than that of its B2B counterpart: The consumer-to-consumer gifting process, which leads to the use of gift cards.

Digital gift cards would seem like a simple next step:

  • Take a consumer’s money
  • Give the equivalent in stored value to another person
  • The recipient converts said value into merchandise, whether in store or online.

In reality however, many retailers have found complexity and pitfalls, according to a recent survey by e-Gift Card provider CashStar, which for the last five years has studied adoption and implementation of digital gift cards by brands—ranking brands by their ease of purchase (buyer side) and ease of reception and use (recipient side).

Related: Mobile Payment Adoption: A Global Snapshot

Out of 75 possible points, The Home Depot led in the digital gift card arena, followed by Sephora, Dunkin Donuts, Starbucks, Ulta Cosmetics, Amazon.com, and Best Buy.

Among these top e-gift card providers, six key strengths stood out:

  • Easy-to-find gift cards, no matter the channel used to engage with consumers
  • Purchases that are integrated with product carts and plastic card purchases
  • Personalization and choice for the buyer to customize the gift card purchase
  • Mobile delivery and extensive notification options to both buyer and recipient
  • Mobile-optimized purchases on both mobile web and mobile app
  • Some base-level ability to add gift cards to a mobile wallet

With mobile wallets becoming an important factor, this seems to be a leading issue for providers heading into the future, as adding a digital gift card to a phone while making purchases whether online or in store will be the ultimate test of omnicommerce availability.

Related: Customer Loyalty Programs Sweeten the Mobile Payment Value Proposition

Other areas for improvement, according to the study, are social media, consistency and ease of access, and process gaps [communication, speed of delivery, specification of where the gift card goes (directly to recipient or to recipient via buyer), etc.].

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Corporate Payments Insights