The holiday season is a special time of the year, for consumers as well as for brands. For the latter, that period rhymes with a peak in traffic, resulting in record sales. And for consumers, the end of the year is an interlude in their purchasing behavior. It indeed is a special occasion during which they change their usual habits. Their purchase criteria change as well since they are not buying products for themselves.
Amidst the changes in consumer behavior, last-minute gifts are another growing phenomenon. The number of last-minute shoppers increases every year. Focusing on them could be very interesting for brands. Who are they? What motivates them? To what strategies are they most receptive? Here are some possible answers to guide your choices.
Why are there more last-minute shoppers during the holidays?
Who are they?
At the end of the year, there are two types of consumers visiting your stores.
Those who plan ahead and take advantage of Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals to buy their presents. The organizational skills of this first type of consumer enable them to get all their gifts done by the end of November.
And then, there are those who, on the contrary, wait until the very last minute to find and buy their gifts. In 2018, an NRF survey found that 56% of holiday shoppers planned on shopping the weekend preceding Christmas. Each year, we see the number of last-minute purchases increase. And in 2019, one in seven declared they had not started their holiday shopping as of early December.
What motivates these last-minute shoppers? Latecomers think that by buying their gifts last minute, they will get better deals than those who planned ahead. Most are looking for cheaper offers and do not care about the brand they will buy from. 56% declared preferring to do online shopping rather than going to brick & mortar stores (BestBlackFriday survey). In the end, the key factors for last-minute shoppers are: the deals, delivery services and logistic. Because, of course, they want to make sure their orders will there by Christmas day.
An opportunity for brands
Therefore, Christmas last-minute shoppers are a real gold mine for brands. However, they are not an easy target. They only show their faces on the last week, or even weekend, before Christmas. With that in mind, physical shops have to manage their stocks and implement a foolproof logistics strategy to make sure they have what the customers are looking for. Otherwise, they risk losing sales and won’t maximize revenue.
For e-retailers, the stakes are even higher. Each year they gain ground and market shares on Christmas sales. In 2019, in the UK e-commerce made up 32.4% of Christmas retail sales, in the U.S. 26.4%, Germany 26.1% and in France 20.3%. (Center for Retail Research)
But it is much harder and complex to benefit from last-minute purchases without solid logistics. How can you guarantee last-minute shoppers their order will be shipped and delivered in less than 24 hours, or even less?
Gift card programs, an efficient strategy for the days leading up to Christmas
To cope with inventory shortages or long delivery times, brands can consider offering gift cards, more specifically, digital gift cards.
A favorite last-minute gift
Last-minute shoppers particularly like digital gift cards. When you are late, it is always complicated to find products online that can be delivered before Christmas. Many don’t have any other choice but to visit the stores, unfortunately, they are not alone and they get stuck in the last Christmas rush. It is complicated and frankly quite unpleasant to shop under such circumstances. That is why they prefer doing their shopping solely online, which is entirely possible with digital gift cards. They have the advantage of being delivered instantly after the purchase.
Gift cards can be ordered in just a few clicks. In a couple of minutes, the gift can be bought and sent, all the while avoiding the crowds. Digital gift cards are especially convenient for last-minute shoppers since they are easily and conveniently sent. If they are looking for gifts right before Christmas, buyers can choose to send it instantly to the recipient by email, wherever he/she is. However, if they prefer to give it to them personally, they just have to print it. And in the event that they still have a few days before Christmas, they can always program the gift card’s delivery.
And icing on the cake: digital gift cards are completely customizable. The emotional side remains very important to consumers. To make e-gift cards more personal, brands offer many customization features. Customers can send a personal message or video, choose among different designs or load a specific image or picture. No effort has been spared to create a unique gift for each buyer. And recipients will be thrilled, especially considering digital gift cards are becoming very popular.
Brands maximize revenue opportunities up until the end of the year
Brands can benefit from digital gift cards too. Those with a click-and-mortar model always carefully prepare their physical shops to welcome thousands of last-minute customers. Unfortunately, no matter how well-prepared, the actual rush can sometimes be very complicated to handle. Offering and highlighting digital gift cards that can be bought until the very last minute on their website could help them deal with the excess of traffic while maximizing revenue.
The advantage of digital gift cards is that they can be easily created by brands. Compared to plastic gift cards that require time (printing and delivery), it is possible to create several e-gift cards and deliver them in just a few minutes. Which brings us to inventory management. Digital gift cards are rarely out of stock since they are generated on request, unlike plastic gift cards for which the demand needs to be anticipated, managed, especially over the holiday period.
Finally, gift cards are very interesting for brands for another reason. Although last-minute shoppers buy them before Christmas, recipients will spend them after the holidays. This is a great way to boost post-holiday traffic. The revenue will not only benefit from the gift card purchase, but also from the additional purchases recipients very often make.
As the number of last-minutes shoppers rises, the opportunities for brands grow. Whether brick & mortar or e-retailers, brands can offer digital gift cards to maximize revenue until the very end of the year. They are more and more appreciated, in Europe as well as in the rest of the world, because they have it all to meet the needs of latecomers. Considering brands also benefit from this product after the holiday period, implementing a gift card program is, without doubt, a win-win situation.
Suggestions for further reading
How to successfully implement a gift card program for the holidays?