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What are gift sales?

Gift sales are the purchases a shopper makes with the intention of giving them to another person. During the Christmas shopping season-when retail in the United States has topped $449 billion-gift giving accounts for a staggering slice of sales (1). But it's not just December that sees the bottom-line difference-gift sales can buoy your business during the entire calendar year.

Making your site enticing for gift givers is lucrative for several reasons:

  • Urgency: Marketing your products as gifts during certain holiday periods creates a sense of urgency around the shopping experience, which can boost your conversion rate.

  • Higher order value: For certain people, gift giving is seen as a time to splurge, meaning they will have a significantly higher order value than they would if shopping for themselves.

  • New customers: Gift giving can potentially bring two new shoppers to your site: the gift giver, who might have found your site through an engine search about the recipient's interests, and the gift recipient, who might visit your site for follow-up purchases after receiving the gift.

How to track gift sales

Some gift sales are impossible to track, but online retailers who offer gift wrap or gift receipts will have an easier time estimating gift sale purchases. You can also isolate sales in which the billing and shipping address for an order are different, as many gifts are mailed directly from the retailer to the gift recipient. Finally, you can reasonably assume that purchases generated from a holiday marketing campaign (say, Mother's Day discount codes or Christmas paid search campaign) are gift sales.

How to increase gift sales

While anyone can buy a product on your site and give it to someone as a gift, there are a few simple ways to strategically boost gift sales on your site.

  • Offer gift cards: The gift card market is surging, and many people prefer to give gift cards, as it takes the anxiety out of shopping for someone else. In 2014, shoppers loaded $124 billion onto gift cards, according to the Corporate Executive Board (2). And retailers can count on gift-card holders to spend more than the face value of their gift cards when they're redeeming them. On average, people spend 38 percent over the value of their card while shopping.

  • Provide gift services: Brick-and-mortar shops typically offer gift wrap, gift receipts and sometimes even small gift cards, and online retailers who offer comparable services are more likely to attract gift givers.

  • Market for gifts sales: You might not know when someone's in the market to buy a birthday gift, but you can plan for every calendar holiday (Father's Day, Teacher Appreciation Week) that fits your demographic and craft a marketing campaign accordingly. Discount codes tied to the holiday can increase the sense of shopping urgency for the consumer.

  • Make your last order date clear: A delay in fulfillment is doubly disappointing when the purchased product is a gift, and it can seriously ding your reputation. Make it clear what your last order date is, both on your homepage (if applicable) and on the purchasing page.

1. "Retail Sales 2014: Consumer Spending Drops During Holiday Shopping Season Despite Low Gas Prices"

2. "Gift Cards State of the Union 2014"

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