For years, it was frowned upon to give gift certificates or money to someone as a gift, which was considered lazy or thoughtless in some social circles.
But amid a global pandemic and the rise of digital shopping, something that was once only reserved for students or someone who lives far away has suddenly become mainstream, according to Brett McLaughlin, CTO at sticky.io – especially now that digital giving allows for personalization.
“Something like a subscription, whether it’s a box or a curation or the ability to select portions of a gift for oneself or services like MasterClass, all offer a degree of personalization. “McLaughlin told PYMNTS. “It goes back to the original idea of wanting to show the recipient, ‘I know you somehow, I thought of you’, rather than just sending the $ 50 card that s’ opens at Starbucks. “
Giving a subscription can also turn into a Christmas morning-like experience, he said, as the recipient sets up their new account and finds out how to use the new service, including choosing what gets shipped in a store. box organized and familiarizing yourself with the various features.
Sellers love them too
For retailers, subscriptions could be a way around supply chain issues plaguing businesses around the world – for example, McLaughlin said, a subscription might be offered at Christmas, but the first physical item might not. arrive by post before January. , “So they can use a no-rush, no-vacation shipping and order management method, and fulfillment, while still getting the value of one type of gift being offered for the holidays.”
“Retailers and platforms will not only see more satisfied customers, but also higher sales,” he continued. “And it allows them to capture long-term relationships in a way that goes way beyond the customer buying the craziest toy for twice the price on eBay and then running for the hills.”
PYMNTS research, conducted in conjunction with sticky.io, estimated that 61 million U.S. consumers have at least one retail subscription, with as many as 225 million active retail subscriptions in place. The share of consumers with retail subscriptions has almost tripled since the start of 2020, reaching 24% in the third quarter.
Read more: 61 million U.S. consumers have at least one retail subscription
As the holidays approach, McLaughlin said subscription retailers need to be ready for “massive” digital traffic, noting that “this is a time when oversupply is a must.” A broken connection could spell the end of a potential customer relationship, he said. This can be devastating for subscriptions because it’s more than just a sale – it’s months or years of purchases.
“Now is not the time to cut corners,” McLaughlin said. “I’d rather say we haven’t used 20% of our capacity and spent an extra $ 100,000 because it will be very easy to make up for that – and more – by being available to everyone who has come.”
McLaughlin predicted that this holiday season will see the largest digital shopping market to date, as it has become clear that last year was not just an aberration – e-commerce is here to stay.
“There is a larger segment of the audience listening,” he said. “And I think that allows for more creativity, because you’re not just trying to compete with everyone for the millennium market in quotes, which is narrow to begin with, anymore.”
Unfortunately, from McLaughlin’s perspective, the shopping experience – especially around Black Friday and Cyber Monday – hasn’t changed much. Offers are launched on a particular day or at a certain time, with people sitting in line or going into stores for the best discounts.
What is likely, however, is a greater degree of personalization as retailers try to reach customers based on segmentation and purchase history. McLaughlin said that a sleep supplement company, for example, could tie a promotion to vacation exhaustion, or a bedding company could advertise travel blankets for people visiting relatives whose homes are too low. cold.
“This stuff just feels so much more personal,” McLaughlin said. “And then they fuel the gift idea, because now you connect the subscription or the item to the vacation experience… and all of those things add up to memorable experiences. “
Finding a balance on social media
Brands also need to be aware of the increased use of social media by consumers to shop, McLaughlin told PYMNTS, which is squeezing the already busy holiday shopping cycle. “You don’t go straight to the website and then search for a product,” he said. “You see something, you click and you buy. “
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Retailers should be careful not to over-saturate their social feeds with every item, however, and instead should focus on carefully selected and targeted items that have a higher chance of success on social media, McLaughlin said. He also noted that there is a fine line between selling successfully on social media and posting posts that look like glossy ads.
“People are okay with buying on social media, but they don’t want to feel like they’re sold,” he said. “They want to feel like they’re being shown something of interest, and if they want to buy it, they can. And if it gets too slippery, you start chasing people. “