DTC Gifting
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Sell More Gifts: The Newest Ecommerce Strategy for the Holidays

October 2, 2022
Sell More Gifts: The Newest Ecommerce Strategy for the Holidays

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are massive days for ecommerce brands. They kick off the holiday shopping season and contribute mightily to the year’s bottom line. But year after year, the same ecommerce holiday strategies are suggested. Every “ultimate guide to winning the holidays” is stocked with the same stuff: optimize your site, ramp up your email marketing, gird your customer support team, get on social media, and so on. 

With seemingly every competitor honing the same tactics, it’s tougher to stand out and truly compete for customers. Plus, the desire to rise above the holiday noise on the web and in the inbox has led to some pretty dire strategies. Some shops start the holiday shopping season well before Black Friday and Cyber Monday are even a twinkle in the eye of the consumer, with 2021 seeing holiday sales starting as early as October.

The truth is that a well-stocked inventory, user-friendly websites, and timely emails are all now table stakes for the ecommerce customer experience, especially around the holidays, but none of them actually improve the gifting experience itself. Steep discounts, handsome imagery, and personalized messaging all usher holiday shoppers toward the gifts, but not one of these tactics touches the gifting journey. 

Zest is the latest ecommerce gifting platform evolving how shoppers send gifts your site, and here’s how this actually new tactic could help you stand out and sell more this holiday season.

The Ecommerce Trends That Got Us Here, and What That Means for Customer Expectations

Looking back over just the past few years, it’s safe to say that the pandemic has altered the way we live and interact with one another. One of the most notable changes has been the way we shop. Early 2020 turned something as historically simple as “running to the store” into a logistical, and potentially dangerous, nightmare.

According to the McKinsey COVID-19 US Consumer Pulse Survey conducted in April 2020, shortly after coronavirus reached the US, trends showed that customers were scaling back their spending, largely due to the anticipation of tough times ahead. Consumers were unsure of their financial flexibility or job security, but the need for shopping and gift giving didn’t just simply disappear overnight. 

With so many businesses forced to close their doors to in-person shopping and holiday crowds, shoppers turned to ecommerce in record numbers, causing the demand for online shopping platforms to rise. While the ecommerce industry had been steadily growing for well over a decade, the adoption of ecommerce in 2020 blew forecasted expectations out of the water. 

A graph showing the growth in US Ecommerce sales from 2009 to 2022, surpassing 250,000,000,000 dollars.
Retail ecommerce sales in the United States from 1st quarter 2009 to 2nd quarter 2022 (in million U.S. dollars)

During the first year of the pandemic, total annual ecommerce sales in U.S. retail businesses rose by approximately $244.2 billion. This 43% increase is reflected in the rise from $571.2 billion in sales in 2019 to an astounding $815.4 billion in sales in 2020. The latest data from Salesforce notes a significant rise in global online sales during the 2021 cyber week, hitting a cool $275 billion. This all-time-high reflects a 2% increase from 2020, $62 billion of those digital sales coming directly from the U.S.

The industry saw “five years of projected growth” condensed into one, which means shoppers were quick to adopt and adapt to this new norm of shopping. What’s more is the ecommerce landscape still hasn’t settled. 

As we continue to navigate these changes and embrace shifting consumer behaviors and preferences, companies have the opportunity to evolve and develop their own new standards founded on an outstanding customer experience. 

People know that the growth spurt in online stores means there are plenty of options for buying virtually anything. The past few years have been a crash course in shopping online, and nearly every ecommerce consumer is well aware of the CX tactics mentioned before—ecommerce brands look better than ever, social media marketing is ubiquitous, and their email inboxes are packed to the gills with personalized messaging. 

Customers are choosing to engage differently with the world, and how your brand responds and reciprocates is what will set your store apart. The 2022 holiday season is quickly approaching, and businesses are continuing their efforts to reinvent their ecommerce holiday strategies to best meet the needs of today's global consumers. What truly new idea can you weave into your playbook to pique consumer interests and grow sales?

DTC Brands Face Competition Online and In-person

On top of more online competition than ever, ecommerce brands now have to compete with the consumer creep back to in-person shopping. The brick-and-mortar stores to survive the past two years are wide open again, and the introduction of safety measures like coronavirus vaccines means many people feel safer returning to their old way of shopping. 

The number of shoppers who feel good going into stores to shop has reached a two-year high, meaning many consumers will probably check off their holiday shopping list through a combination of in-person and online stores. 

This is great for consumers seeking options and shopping experiences, but it means ecommerce stores need to offer a truly exceptional gifting experience to win people over this year. Values have shifted to where shoppers care less about product pricing and more about the connection they have with a brand, an alignment of core values, and the experience they’re given. And when it comes to gifting, people want to shop for gifts with meaning now more than ever.

While fallbacks like gift cards are infamously flexible, they’re also notoriously impersonal. With social engagements put on hold over the past two years, consumers are now seeking the chance to make up for lost time and express their feelings for those they hold dear. A gift card code on a piece of paper doesn’t necessarily scream “I’ve been thinking of you these past few years!” as much as an intentional, tangible product does.

As we look ahead, these ecommerce trends probably aren’t going anywhere. The demand for quality customer experience and access to digital shopping platforms aren’t about to vanish into thin air. In order to remain competitive, online businesses need to reevaluate their previously crafted omnichannel marketing strategies to meet these evolving needs and earn the business of a more conscious consumer.

Zest Is the Gifting Experience Shoppers Have Never Seen (but Always Wanted)

If you want to sell more gifts, you need a gifting tool that will give today’s shoppers what they desire while helping your store better understand gifting behaviors. Zest is the newest app that makes gifting from your ecommerce store a seamless, branded experience that surprises and delights both gift senders and recipients—and it all starts with a simple “Send as a gift” button right on your product or cart pages. 

A GIF demonstrating Zest's customer experience when someone clicks "Send as a Gift." Someone enters their name, texts the gift, and a little confetti celebration ensues.

With Zest, ecommerce brands are better equipped to service their shoppers and empower them to take ownership of their gifting experiences. Zest resonates with newfound consumer values in ways that other businesses or gifting strategies are lacking, like:

  • Flexible Gifting for Sender and Recipient
    With Zest, both the gift sender and recipient can have flexibility throughout the experience. Gifters get to pick their digital gift note design as well as when and how to deliver it. They can send the note and present instantly or schedule delivery up to a week in advance.

    And when recipients get the joy of digitally unwrapping their gift, they can accept their surprise or swap for another product. Recipients get to pick something that suits them perfectly, meaning they’ll have an immediate positive relationship with your brand
  • Last-Minute Gifting Saves the Day (and Extends Holiday Shopping)
    The instant digital gift note delivery just mentioned is more than convenient—it’s a lifesaver for some! We’ve all waited a bit too long to buy a gift in time for someone. The option to deliver a thoughtful note and gift via text, DM, or email means never having to say, “I waited too long! Your gift will show up sometime.” to anyone again. Instead, stressed shoppers can just hit the “Send as a gift” button for the perfectly timed present.

    Plus, the ability for people to buy and deliver a last-minute gift means your holiday selling season doesn’t end at the shipping cutoff date. Zest gifting empowers people to send gifts to recipients near or far on Christmas Day for the ultimate thoughtful gesture.
  • Personalization for Your Brand and Gifters
    Personalization is ecommerce’s buzzword of the moment, but there’s a very good reason for that. Personalized touchpoints creates a more memorable experience between shopper and brand, and it adds the authenticity that shoppers are looking for. 

    With Zest gifting, brands can customize gift note designs, copy, and the color of the digital wrapping paper so that it’s a cohesive and complementary part of your entire customer experience. Gifters get in on the personalization game, too, as they can choose their custom gift note and write a thoughtful message. 
  • Post-gifting Engagement and Nurturing
    While traditional ecommerce gifting strategies like gift cards or certificates have a tendency to feel more transactional than personal, Zest breaks the mold with its Klaviyo integration.

    This means ecommerce brands have more opportunities to stand out in the minds of gifters and recipients with email campaigns, retargeting messages, and more all related to the gifting experience. The shot to connect with both gift sender and recipient means twice as many warm leads to nurture into loyal customers for many holiday shopping seasons to come.
An example of an automated email flow in Klaviyo for someone who's a first-time gifter.
Zest integrates with Klaviyo for the ultimate post-gifting customer relationship.

Start a New Holiday Tradition with Zest

Overall, these gifting features improve the gifting customer experience tenfold, which is precisely what customers crave in their online shopping today. Not only do these features show consumer awareness, they facilitate the development of a stronger customer relationship with the gifter and the recipient.

Historically, gift recipients never had the opportunity to build a relationship with the brand, but Zest makes it possible to connect and convert beyond a single gifting moment. 

This year, think outside the same old strategies and tackle a tactic that revolutionizes how people shop for gifts on your website. With an innovative, authentic, and simple gifting journey, your store will resonate with new consumer values and stand out in the crowd of online and brick-and-mortar competition.

Liz Lorge
Liz Lorge
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