Use Customer Experience To Improve Your 2021 Gifting Strategy

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With ecommerce sales at an all-time high, retailers can expect increased online traffic to continue all year. Now is the time to refine the strategies you’ll need to be successful.

In our latest webinar, Using Gift Commerce Lessons from 2020 to Win in 2021, Sucharita Kodali (Vice President and Principal Analyst, Forrester) and John Grech (Head of Retail Partnerships, Loop Commerce) shared respective data about the 2020 holiday season and gift commerce trends. Afterwards, Melissa Spencer (CMO, Trade Coffee) and Alvaro De La Rocha (VP Marketing, Bespoke Post) joined for a panel discussion.

Read the recap below.



Kodali’s research from Forrester on the 2020 holiday season highlighted some important shopping patterns:

  • Consumers spent the most money on home goods, apparel, and electronics.
  • Early shoppers did not show up this year—38% of consumers completed their holiday shopping in December.
  • Late deliveries went down from 30% in August to 20% in January, but consumers didn’t mind these delays.
  • Mobile transactions have leveled off at 40%.

After sharing the Holiday 2020 Recap, Kodali busted a few important myths about up and coming ecommerce trends:

  • Curbside is forever. Curbside is still expensive and might not be widely offered in the future. Additionally, only 21-24% of consumers anticipate using curbside after the pandemic.
  • Video shopping is the future. The U.S. ≠ China—just because video shopping works well there does not mean it will work well here. Not only has the U.S. already had live shopping for almost four decades, but we also have more video entertainment alternatives (such as streaming) that China doesn’t. The future of video takes many forms not exclusive to selling and buying.
  • I want everything now. Only 17% of consumers reported being more likely to shop with a same-day option, and many people who have received orders late were not upset about it. Despite these proof points, consumers encountered a new wave of quick delivery promises, which could get brands into trouble if they can’t uphold these promises.
  • WFH is the future and offices are dead. Most companies actually want employees back in the office, but there will be more flexibility for remote work and maternity/paternity leave for white collar workers.
  • Stores are dead. Anywhere from 12-15k stores have closed, but at least 1MM have stayed open. A larger proportion of restaurants have been hit (100k of 650k have closed) but stores will either re-open or others will replace them. And, while many went bankrupt in 2020, fewer claimed it in apparel than in other years, showing economic promise for retail stores.
  • Ecommerce leapfrogged 50 years. While ecommerce grew quickly in the pandemic, we’ve only seen a 3-year leap in the last year.


Overall, ecommerce grew significantly, but gifting grew even faster because people wanted ways to connect and express the emotions they were unable to in person.

We saw this clearly on Mother’s Day—the first pandemic holiday—which endured the biggest change in numbers from 2019: GMV increased almost 300% and number of orders increased 264%. Moving later into the year, people had adapted to the new normal of living, and while sales were still higher than 2019, they were nowhere near the inflation of Mother’s Day. Additionally, AOV saw moderate to negative change—possibly due to the increased number of promotions brands offered.

Consumer Gifting Facts To Remember

GiftNow also collected data illuminating a few consumer fun facts and gifting trends:

  • Women bought 24% more gifts than men, but men spent 24% more than women
  • 62% of people accepted their gifts as sent
  • 23% altered/exchanged their gift
  • 14% returned their gift
  • Men are 40% more likely to alter their gift while women are more likely to accept as is

How To Improve Your Gifting

When looking to enhance your brand’s gifting program, this is a great time to ask questions like:

  1. Have you taken a methodical approach?
  2. Have you put on the gift shopper hat and tested the experience?
  3. Have you surveyed shoppers?
  4. Have you added the gifting capabilities consumers are looking for?
  5. Have you thought about how gifting can be a part of your loyalty strategy?

Asking these questions will not only help strengthen your gifting program, but also create a more seamless gifting customer experience that will bring consumers back for future celebrations.

Alternatively, if your brand doesn’t offer gifting, you might miss an opportunity to test new gifting or a loyalty functionalities on your website. Our panel encouraged openness to new opportunities that might engage your customers in a different way, or even attract an entirely new segment of customers.


After presenting research, our panelists shared a few insights and tips surrounding gifting commerce:

  • “People shop differently for themselves versus others, so the way you plan for gifts has to be very tailored to a gift shopper”—Grech.
  • “Your products are more giftable than you might think—if someone will get it for themselves, someone else could buy it for them, too”—Grech.
  • Spencer recommends using gifting as an acquisition tool—customers who buy products for other people are likely to already be sold on your brand and come back for themselves.
  • Increasing privacy concerns can make it difficult to gather data about gift recipients, but since you have the person’s address, Kodali recommends sending direct mail to bypass collecting other first party data.
  • “Think about what a gift giver/recipient wants and how you can deliver that to them”—Kodali.

Gift commerce is an important sector but needs to be tailored to the shopper in order to be successful. Focus on the opportunities you have to connect with consumers and provide them with a seamless experience. CommerceNext will cover gifting again for our community as the year progresses. Stay subscribed to our newsletter and YouTube channel for more!