‘Tis the season for gift giving, and gift giving itself is not above a technological upgrade. The ubiquity of gift cards today is easy to overlook. They have become so mainstream it can be easy to forget how recently gift certificates were reverently pulled from under a desk, signed by the customer and embossed or signed at the store. Everybody knows about giftcards, and you can’t escape them. Not only can you buy them for your favourite stores, but gift card malls abound at retailers, more often seen than not. There are gift card malls online. It’s possible to buy gift cards for any retailer you can imagine. It’s even possible to get gift cards for life experiences like driving a race car, or flying an air combat mission. There are so many of them, that there are gift card exchanges online where cards can be bought and sold in an open market.
What about some new twists on gift cards? How is technology being leveraged even further than moving a paper certificate to a plastic card?
Emailing gifts is increasingly common. Papa Johns uses CashStar to allow their customers to send the gift of Pizza via email. Staples is doing something similar. Netflix.ca and Zip.ca also have gift options to allow customers to provide gift subscriptions via email. Email is sent on date requested by customer, and gift recipient can register for the movies they want and watch online (Netflix) or receive DVDs in the mail for rental (Zip.ca).
Facebook as a gifting venue is moving in a few ways. Traditional gift cards can be purchased from retailers on facebook, but Facebook giftcards with Facebook credit values can now be purchased at major retailers – or even by cashing in your coins at Coinstar. These Facebook credits can buy a wide variety of electronic goodies like electronic games and items within the games to activate features and levels.
Amazon is taking this electronic gift giving a step further. Instead of emailing a giftcard, Amazon allows customers to Give Kindle Books via email. Customers select the ebook they wish to gift, select ‘give as gift’, make their payment, and an email is sent to the gift recipient. The recipient clicks on the et your Kindle book gift now and the book goes directly into their library. No gift card redemption, no shipping, no customes, no wrapping and warp speed delivery. Who could ask for more? Merry Christmas, all!