5 Ways To Sell More Gifts Beyond the Holidays

May 3, 2024
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The holidays are a boon to a brand’s revenue as Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and general holiday spending continue to spike year after year. Gifting is one of the fastest-growing categories in ecommerce, and this shouldn’t be a shocker. More people have turned to (and stuck with) online shopping for holiday gifts since the start of the pandemic, which makes it super simple for folks to scroll, buy, and send a thoughtful gift on its merry way in just seconds.

But what happens once the presents are unwrapped, the decorations come down, and the holiday hustle and bustle subsides? Does your gifting strategy drastically change once the holiday festivities come to an end? Does gifting get relegated to the bottom of the priority list until the next Black Friday rolls around?

As it turns out, gifting isn’t a seasonal sport. From birthdays and weddings to graduations and back-to-school, the need to gift doesn’t go away. It’s time to consider what kind of gifting experience you’re providing your valued customers past the holiday season, and how you can become the go-to destination for every other gifting occasion throughout the year.

The Big Shopper Shift from In-person to Ecommerce Gifting

Ecommerce has been taking up a bigger piece of the retail pie year after year. Despite all the hype surrounding online shopping, brick-and-mortar shopping still accounts for roughly 86% of all retail sales in the US, but that portion is forecasted to continue to dwindle in years ahead. One big impetus to changing consumer behavior is the obvious coronavirus pandemic.

A graph depicting the growth of Ecommerce's total retail share from 2013 to 2025.

The pandemic changed many parts of day-to-day lives, and it didn’t spare the way we think about gift giving. Pre-2020, the holiday season was a time to gather with family and friends, exchange gifts, and enjoy each other's company. But with in-person celebrations traded for distanced precautions, many turned to ecommerce to do their holiday shopping.

Stay-at-home orders were enough to drive 12% of consumers to shop online for the first time in their lives at the start of the pandemic. And you know what they say—once you shop, you just can’t stop. Er…something like that. As a result of changed consumer behaviors and trends, ecommerce grew faster than anyone anticipated.

According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, total U.S. ecommerce sales rose from $762.68 billion in 2020 to $870.78 billion in 2021, a 14.2% increase. As more people turn to online shopping, ecommerce merchants and DTC brands need to ensure that their gifting strategies not only offer value to the gifter and the recipient, but also provide a memorable customer experience no matter what time of year to earn long-term loyalty in a time of heightened competition and online noise.  

As noted in the 2020 McKinsey & Company COVID-19 Consumer Pulse Survey, consumers claim they plan to continue making online purchases for essentials and non-essentials for years to come. Therefore, ecommerce is likely here to stay, not only in holiday gifting but gifting year round. It’s a human moment of connection and thoughtfulness, and there’s a perfect storm of consumers poised to make gifting grow even more.

Millennials are the most generous generation. When compared with Baby Boomers or Gen Xers, this group or givers donates twice as much money every year to charitable causes. Add that intense giving spirit to the fact that millennials are also about to become the biggest spenders and already account for 30% of total retail sales. It’s the perfect storm for gift-giving, and now is the time to create an experience that resonates and engages for any gifting event.

And let’s not forget, after months of social-distancing, stay-at-home orders, and quarantines, people appreciate the importance of human connection more than ever. Pre-pandemic, most people would automatically think of physical in-person connections, but nowadays, we have learned that connecting with people we care about requires effort and can be done in many thoughtful ways.

More people have started sending gifts just because instead of concentrating their gifting practices around specific events like Christmas, birthdays, or Valentine’s Day. In situations where connecting with a loved one in-person is not an option, digital gifting offers a sense of relief, allowing the gifter to express themselves and their feelings for others without the stress of traditional in-store shopping.

So, how can you capture this opportunity?

How to Stretch Your Store’s Gifting Strategy for Every Occasion

It’s understandable that as people continue to look for opportunities to connect in meaningful ways, the level of ease and convenience online gifting offers is hard to pass up. Not having to worry about packing and shipping, as well as having access to practically any product your heart (or your recipient’s heart) desires is a major bonus. Ah, the possibilities!

But the benefits of online shopping aren’t just appealing to shoppers—they’ve become a necessity. While many things that once seemed standard prior to the pandemic suddenly bumped down on the list of priorities, the need for gifting still remains a priority.

It’s time to invest in what the gifting experience looks like for your shoppers year round and find ways to meet new consumer trends and needs. Let’s take a look at how your store can tap into the gifting opportunity and leverage the Zest app to help your store grow and scale outside of the Q4 holiday season.

1. Offer flexibility for a stress-free shopper experience.

Many ecommerce stores offer gift cards on their site and that’s the extent of the gifting strategy. While gift cards seem like the most flexible option, they’re inherently impersonal, forgettable, and often go unused — the opposite thoughtful, authentic gifting. With Zest, your gifters can shop curated gift catalog, pick a digital card design or add their own pic (big selfie opportunity, amiright?), add their own personalized gift message, and customize details like when to send an e-gift or ship a physical gift.

Caraway's Zest-powered gifting storefront is super slick to shop from.

Zest-powered gifting storefronts are an intuitive way for your customers to send gifts. With full transparency into your store's gift catalog, pricing, and shipping, it's an experience as stress-free as shopping for themselves. It’s a fool-proof way to offer the benefits of flexibility and the satisfaction of sending a meaningful present. Most importantly, it’s a memorable gifting moment for both the sender and the recipient (unlike another gift card that gets socked away somewhere).

Gifters can add personalized touches like gift note design and messaging, as well as digital unboxing colors.

2. Help out last-minute gifts with instant e-gifting.

With inventory struggles and overwhelming package delivery volume, ensuring a gift gets to the recipient on a specific date is the source of a lot of anxiety and frustration. Abiding by shipping cutoff dates also restricts how many gifts your store can sell leading up to a big event. For example, if your shipping cutoff date is three days before Valentine’s Day, that’s three days of unsold gifts.

And the last thing gifters want to do is purchase a gift card that feels like an afterthought. Sure, we’ve all forgotten an important birthday a time or two, resulting in a last-minute panic purchase—but we don’t want that to be noticed or felt by the person on the receiving end.

Zest enables gifters to deliver their thoughtful note and gift instantly via text, email, or direct message on Messenger, WhatsApp, or your favorite mode of chatting. Once the note is sent to the recipient, they get to digitally unwrap their surprise, enter their own shipping address, and even write a thank you note in return for some serious instant gratification.

This means your brand can stretch gift sales to the very day of an event, like the first day of school or literally at someone's birthday party. Advertise your new gifting capability for all your customers who will inevitably be met with the need to purchase a last-minute present, and you’ll be their go-to for same-day gifting forever.

3. Own the gifting experience and turn it into an extension of your brand.

In the Zest app, brands can upload their own thoughtfully designed gift notes, customize their button copy and byline, and change app colors. Flexible settings give power to brands that want to fully own their gifting experience and make it feel like a cohesive part of the overall customer experience.

With more branded touches engaging with both gifter and giftee, stores will stand out and stay top of mind for everyone who’s a part of the gifting moment.

Turn every gift into a branded touchpoint.

4. Engage and nurture gifters and recipients all year long.

When Zest is combined with the power of your email marketing strategy, magical things happen. During the gifting experience, both the sender and recipient have the chance to opt into your brand marketing. Their details—who they are, what they gifted—are collected by Zest for a complete picture of the gifting experience and can be used to personalize post-gifting engagement.

Zest integrates with leading ecommerce email marketing platform Klaviyo, which gives merchants unlimited power in building email flows and campaigns based on gifting activity. Use the personalization power to acknowledge and thank gifters, create gifting loyalty programs, welcome recipients who are new to your brand, and nurture everyone until they gift again.

Unlike gift cards, Zest gives brands the opportunity to connect with gifters and recipients all year long. With thousands of reasons to send gifts throughout the year, finding a reason to encourage the good gifting vibes isn't tough.

Milk Bar engages customers with another super valid reason to surprise someone with a gift!

5. Create more intentional paths to easy gifting.

Most brands believe their customers only buy gifts around the major Q4 holidays, but we believe that maybe a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy. The time of the year most brands even mention gifting or create easy access to giftable goods is around the Big Holidays, so while there is a reason to send gifts, it's also easier for customers t do so than any other time of the year.

One of the simplest ways to drive more gift sales all year long is to create more paths to gifting all year long. Milk Bar is a highly giftable product, and it's a brand built around the idea that literally any day is a great day to gift a cake. So while it may be beating the gifting drum in December, it also provides direct paths to its dedicated gifting storefront from its typical DTC customer journey.

Ubiquitous button placement and consistent messaging around gifting throughout the Milk Bar website also ensures that even if a shopper isn't placing a big gift order today, they'll remember that Milk Bar is the place to go when they need to do so in the future.

Brands drive more gift sales by adding more CTAs in emails and PDPs.

Add a Little Zest to Your Year-round Gifting Strategy

Whether someone is attempting to make a grand gesture or simply saying Thinking of You, giving and receiving gifts is a love language that isn’t going away any time soon. With the continued growth of this ecommerce category, it’s time to update your gifting strategy to ensure you are providing great customer experience year-round and not just during the holidays.

Adding a thoughtful, branded, and intentional gifting experience to your online store shows your shoppers that you’re a gifting destination no matter the occasion—not just Christmas.

Ready to kick-start your gifting game for the entire year? Schedule a 30-minute demo with us today.

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Liz Lorge
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