Social gifting may be a buzzword, but it’s also the future of e-commerce

Last week, a Swedish company by the name of Wrapp made its way stateside, bringing with it a new mobile app that is helping to make “social gifting” the new buzzword in e-commerce.

Interested in what this new app had to offer, I tried it myself.  I quickly found that its potential success hinges solely on the fact that it provides a positive customer experience, which can be the make or break factor in an organizations’ e-commerce strategy.

By allowing users to give a mobile gift card from Starbucks, H&M, or other popular retailers to friends on their birthday or any other special event — which social sites like Facebook already promote — Wrapp is blurring the lines of cross-channel commerce and making it easier than ever for consumers to shop how they want, when they want, and where they want.

Every day, I work with companies helping to bring their business online and reap the benefits of a sound e-commerce strategy.  When I work with these retailers, the first thing I emphasize is that their e-commerce platform should make it easy for customers to search, compare, and buy.  Social gifting is just a new way that makes it easy for consumers to buy online, and from our experience, anything that improves the customer experience ultimately increases sales.

For retailers, social gifting is forcing the recipient to become mobile as well.  Buying a friend a gift card to be used online or in the store takes the act of recommending one step further — by making it actionable for the recipient.  It’s no longer just a rating or a review, but an invested recommendation for a person to shop with a particular retailer.  Social gifting is taking peer review to the next level, and it’s allowing retailers to cash in without making a big investment.

In the future, I suspect we’re going to see more and more retailers joining the social gifting craze, especially if it’s as easy to do as simply signing up with a company like Wrapp.  Having a mobile presence can be beneficial for a retailer, but can also be incredibly expensive to start up. Companies like Wrapp make it easy for retailers who wouldn’t have otherwise been able to leverage an app to get into the mobile space and to reach customers like they haven’t before.

In addition to providing retailers with a chance to go mobile, social gifting is also validating that a connection to social networks is going to continue to be important from a customer experience standpoint.  If it is easy for a consumer to think about their connections and where a retailer’s product will fit in, companies can spread their message and push their products faster and more effectively.

Working with retailers and their mobile platforms every day, I suspect we will continue to see big companies with larger budgets want to build apps and customize their customers’ experiences on their own terms.  However, I believe we will continue to see retailers of all sizes join the social gifting craze, especially those that understand that a positive customer experience will always prevail in a successful e-commerce strategy.

Bob Egner is the VP of Marketing and Product Management of EPiServer, a provider of software for social and commerce sites. With over 20 years of industry experience, his executive roles have focused on growth through communicating core value, and on creating innovative online marketing programs and product strategies.


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