An Analysis of the Global Gift Card Market and How Retailers Can Capitalize

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For the fifth time, NAPCO Research, in conjunction with Blackhawk Network, has undertaken a comprehensive review of the state of merchants’ gift card offerings. The 2022 review included an assessment of retailers’ e-commerce/digital, mobile, and in-store gift card offerings, providing a holistic view into the consumer gift card purchase and recipient experience. The full report can be downloaded here.

This year’s report has expanded upon its previous four iterations by extending the assessment to a multinational audience, adding U.K.- and Australia-based merchants along with U.S. brands. This was done to better capture the total gift card market. In total, 200 retailers (100 U.S., 50 Australian, 50 U.K.) were assessed in the full multinational omnicommerce assessment, representing a wide range of product verticals. Each retailer had a physical store presence and a digital/e-commerce presence.

Those 200 retailers were assessed on more than 175 criteria that were designed to evaluate expected and emerging capabilities for digital and physical gift card offerings through desktop e-commerce/digital, mobile website, mobile app, and brick-and-mortar stores, with a focus on the customer and recipient experience, as well as the B-to-B bulk gift buyer experience.

What We Found

The multinational average score for all 200 merchants evaluated was 66 percent, indicating that while there are strengths to retailers’ gift card programs (which I will identify), there is also opportunity for improvement. Here is how that multinational average broke down across the three markets evaluated:

  • Australia (69 percent)
  • U.K. (66 percent)
  • U.S. (64 percent)

Furthermore, here’s a more detailed reporting of the strengths and opportunities for the merchants within each of the three markets:

Australia

  • Strengths: Digital and mobile, including site search, personalization options, and payment options.
  • Opportunities: Merchants can take their mobile efforts to the next level by engaging, marketing to, and selling to their best customers via an app. Just two of the Australian merchants had a mobile app.

United Kingdom

  • Strengths: The mobile purchase and recipient experience. Merchants would be wise to double-down on those strengths, particularly as more consumers opt to shop via their phones.
  • Opportunities: Improve the digital and in-store experiences, where each of their averages trailed the multinational averages for those criteria categories, including site search and gift card landing pages.

United States

  • Strengths: In-store performance, including well-stocked and tidy fixtures and checkstands.
  • Opportunities: Digital and mobile purchase experiences were lacking, particularly the checkout/post-purchase experience. Create an omnicommerce gift card program that provides the same positive shopping experience no matter the channel.

Tips to Implement Into Your Gift Card Program

As part of the multinational report, in addition to the data on the strengths and opportunities for the merchants in each of the three countries across digital/e-commerce, in-store, and mobile channels, there are tips for readers to help them optimize performance for each of those channels. Below are just one tip for each channel (there are plenty more featured in the report!):

  • Digital/E-Commerce: Make it easy to find your gift cards online — on your homepage, gifting section, and through search (including site search, organic and paid search).
  • In-Store: Add eye-catching signage to helps customers locate gift card fixtures and drives impulse purchases.
  • Mobile: Give your customers options to personalize both physical and digital gift cards on your mobile app, not just on desktop. Allow customers to choose from a variety of faceplate options and to include a custom message (text and/or video).

This multinational report is the first in a series of assets related to the evaluation of merchants’ omnicommerce gift card programs. Still to come are regional reports with scoring specific to each market evaluated, including Australia, U.K, and the U.S. In addition, the regional reports will include individualized merchant scoring. However, make sure to check out the multinational report for more detailed scoring across geographies and channels, as well as tips for optimizing the gift card purchase and recipient experience.