With the high-street under increasing pressure to offer a flexible retail experience, new research has suggested that gift cards are becoming key components in creating a multi-channel business.
The State of the Nation 2022 research, carried out by the Gift Card & Voucher Association (GCVA) and GlobalData, found that consumer expectations around digital cards and multi-channel flexibility are continuing to increase, with two-fifths (40.8%) of consumers now expecting all gift cards to be multi-channel in the future. An expectation that is notably higher among younger consumers, with this sentiment highest among the Millennials.
The research revealed a 13% increase in the expectation for gift cards to be multi-channel, when compared to 28% of gift card buyers in 2020, showing that gift cards are becoming a key asset for customers to be able to shop in-store and online.
The continued rise of digital gifting methods during the pandemic has led a significant number of shoppers to now expect all gift cards to be available in both digital and physical formats, increasing from 26.2% in 2020 to 40.8% in 2022.
Much of this shift towards an expectation of multi-channel shopping, with gift cards as a central link between them, is driven by young people. Gen Z (shoppers aged 16-24) and Gen X (aged 35-54) purchased a similar amount of gift cards, with 46% having bought a gift card in the last three years. When compared to Baby Boomers (aged 55+), less than a third (32%) had bought a gift card in the last three years.
Gail Cohen, director general of the GCVA, commented: “Lockdowns have fundamentally changed the expectations of customers, who now favour a choice across multiple channels. Gift cards that can give customers this choice are one of the best solutions for businesses that allow them to link their bricks and mortar offering with their e-commerce store is using gift cards.
“The beauty of gift cards is that they can be used across all channels. For businesses it is a great way of both strengthening their brand and also retaining customers by creating a seamless experience. As we move towards a cashless system, the lure of the gift card, from both a consumer and business perspective, becomes more and more enticing.”