It’s Christmas time, and that means that, if you’re an e-commerce merchant, your numbers are likely to be going through the roof. More customers are hitting your store front than any other time of year, and as such you should be going that extra mile to make your customers’ experience more special.
Of course, in a year like no other, this is more important than ever. Forbes notes that online sales for retailers in popular gifting categories will get a boost this season, with health and beauty up 23%, consumer electronics rising 20%, fashion up 19% and home furnishings growing 16% by year’s end.
And that’s not all: a lot of these purchases will be bought by your customers for others as a Christmas gift, and gifting is hugely lucrative. More than half of UK shoppers’ Christmas spend (~53%) is spent on gifts, according to this study by Deloitte.
We've compiled a list of 10 great ways to make your e-commerce gifting experience feel more special to delight your customers and make the entire experience as positive as the gift itself, with some Christmas-specific ideas to transform your gifting experience for the holiday season.
Top Tips for Improving your Gifting Experience
A sense of theatrics
As the old saying goes, you can’t change a first impression, and as such, the first thing your customer sees of your product will go a long way to forming their opinion of you and your brand.
What’s more, you can’t always guarantee your customer is the only person who is part of the unboxing experience. Unboxing and Review YouTube channels are huge at the moment, and the highest grossing YouTube channel of 2019, at a staggering 26 million dollars, was a toy unboxing and review channel.
This means that the actual ‘unboxing’ process can play just as important a role in forming a customer’s opinion of you. What’s more, it’s not just one person opening this: hundreds, thousands, maybe even millions more are watching.
Try appealing to the senses by adding some perfume or petals, or perhaps replace ugly polystyrene filling with more eco-friendly paper shavings. Every little thing you can do to up the presentation of your product can help for a lasting positive impression.
Your brand identity is probably a big part of why your customers choose to shop with you, so your gifting experience should be positive the whole way through. A great example is Lucy and Yak, an ethical handmade clothes manufacturer, who have ensured that their entire unboxing process is pleasant and on brand.
The outer packaging is recyclable brown paper, and the bag is sealed with a sticker letting you know who packaged up your parcel for you. This makes the experience more intimate, reminding you that someone has taken the time to package this up for you.
The next layer of packaging is a patterned silk bag, which can not only then be used for whatever you like, but it is also aesthetically pleasing and very unique from other packaging.
Finally, the product itself is sealed within an oxo-biodegradable and recyclable plastic bag. All three stages of the packaging reaffirm the values of the company and their products, as well as ensuring that the process is a memorable one for the customer.
Hide the price tag
The price tag can often be the elephant in the room when it comes to gifting. When gifting, you presumably want the focus to be on the thought put into the gift, rather than whether it lives up to the cost of last year’s present.
When buying gifts in store, it’s customary to be given the option to remove the price tag, or at the very least you can do this yourself. E-Commerce vendors should allow their customers to do the same, ensuring that the value is determined by what the gift means to the recipient, rather than dictated by a price on a sticker.
Add a personalized note
Your customers can give all types of gifts: personalized, thoughtful, creative, and unique. But what will really make it personal is their words. Offer your customers the opportunity to write a customisable handwritten-style note, translating their typed note into handwriting.
Scribeless can integrate with Shopify stores to allow their customers to send handwritten notes along with their gifts, and offer a variety of handwriting styles, so customers have the opportunity to pick a style that they think most complements their gift, or resembles their own handwriting the most.
This can be particularly effective as it’s unexpected, and customers will feel like you’ve gone the extra mile. Check out this article about how Delta Airlines successfully exceeded their customer expectations and made an impact with handwritten notes for their customers when they arrived at their destination.
Add a level of digital engagement
As much as you can add a personal touch with gift notes and thoughtful packaging, one way to take your personalization up a notch is to include a digital interface, meaning you can bridge that gap between you and your recipients.
An example of this could be a QR code on the back of a gift note that allows the sender to record a short video message wishing the receiver a special day. Now more than ever, when in-person interactions are limited, a digital interface is sure to put a smile on your customer's face.
Make returns easy
Unfortunately, sometimes the customer won’t always be satisfied with their product. This can be a bummer, but it doesn’t always have to be - there’s every chance that the problem is something that can be rectified, like wanting a different size or colour.
Make it as easy as possible for customers to return their items by including explicit instructions, packaging that can be re-used and a self-adhesive label so they can return it for free.
Any frustration they may feel at their product not quite living up to their expectations will be offset if they can more easily exchange it for something which they’ll love. If they go on to make a new purchase as a replacement, you’ve saved yourself from losing a customer.
Don’t go overboard
As we've mentioned so far, packaging is a very important part of the gifting experience, and can really enhance your recipient's experience. But, you should be careful not to go too far! According to Sealed Air e-commerce Survey, extra packaging can be annoying and may force people to think they paid too much.
As the graphs show, you risk alienating your customers if your packaging and unboxing experience is too intense. Worse yet, you could even irritate your customers by having your packaging be inaccessible without...the product inside then packaging.
Christmas Gifting ideas
As it's Christmas, we thought we'd add a few extra suggestions on how to change up your usual gifting process for the holiday season. Even subtle tweaks to your usual packaging or extras can show your customers that you really want to enhance their experience.
Add some Christmas extras
A lot of merchants will throw little extras in with their packaging, and there’s no reason this can’t change with the seasons! Consider swapping out your usual extras with some stocking fillers.
Candy canes, tree decorations and other little seasonal treats will help get your customers in the Christmas spirit. It’ll also keep things fresh for all-year-round customers, who will appreciate you’ve made the effort to change things up from your usual ensemble!
As we’ve already touched on, a more theatrical unboxing experience can really galvanize your unboxing experience and make opening the gift itself feel unique.
During the Christmas period, consider substituting out your usual paper shavings or polystyrene for some fake snow, or another creative way to get your customers feeling festive. As with your added extras, customers will notice a change from your usual packaging and their experience will be more unique as a result.
A handwritten Christmas card from your founder
To amp up the impact of your handwritten letter, take it one step further: Scribeless can learn the handwriting of your founder for an unexpected surprise. Why not also upgrade your standard note to a Christmas card with your own design?
Subtle tweaks to your usual gifting process like this can demonstrate that your business isn’t content with standing still and is constantly changing to suit your needs or what's happening in the world. The idea that your founder or CEO is personally passing on their thanks for your purchase is also unexpected, and will make a unique Christmas card on your recipients mantlepiece.