When I think about gift cards, I think that they are such an easy gift to give to those in which you have no idea what to give. I admit that I bought one this month for a friend’s birthday.
Everyone buys them, right? It seems that the answer is a resounding “yes” as gift card sales exceed $25 billion dollars a year. A few big box stores are getting creative since most retailers are estimating that due to the current economy, sales from the previous year will be down 5-25%.
A recent Wall Street Journal article explains how Home Depot is engaging in Interactive Cards. “When a customer receives one of the company’s interactive gift cards, he or she can go to a special website, enter the gift card amount and hold the gift card up to a webcam. The webcam will show the consumer’s image and the image of a crate on the computer screen. When the customer shakes the gift card, products will appear in the on-screen crate within the card value range.”
The article also discusses Best Buy’s new “Pitch In” website may be a play to combine both the practical and innovative. “Inspired, in part, by social networking trends, customers can create a card online and friends and family can contribute any amount to the card – starting at $5 – to be used towards larger items on that customer’s wish list. The card can be used at any U.S. Best Buy store or online.”
I find both of these strategies interesting. Are they giving more to the consumer or are they asking them to do more?
For me, gift cards are an impulse buy. When it is difficult to know what the recipient would like or if they “Have Everything,” a gift card is easy to grab in the check out line. At least this way, they will know that they are on my mind and I care.