Expert Talk

Creating Covfefe Gifting Experiences

Qwikcilver, the global leader in Gift Cards, powering every segment of the gift card industry; is the world’s first and only end-to-end Gift card solution provider. With its future ready technology solutions and Qwikcilver has built ground up a state-of-the-art Stored Value Platform exclusively for managing gift cards for Merchants, Retailers and Brands.  Qwikcilver has been granted the license to “Issue” Semi-Closed Loop Prepaid (SCLP) instruments by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), the apex Financial Regulatory Authority in India.As an ISO27001 certified company Qwikcilver conducts annual audits like CISA and VAPT (Vulnerability Assessment & Penetration testing) and ESCROW reporting on a quarterly basis. These audits are conducted by authorised agencies to ensure security of both Qwikcilver systems and client system. Starting in 2017, Qwikcilver has been conducting the one of a kind Qwikcilver Gift Card Conclave, an event exclusively for the Gift Card Category which featured the convergence of industry stalwarts as they engaged in insightful conversations which went on to define the future of gifting. The second edition of the Qwikcilver Gift Card Conclave kicked off with greater expectations after a successful and enriching event the previous year. This year the conclave was held on 18th of April at Bangalore, India. As the only type of the event in India and Asia, this year also saw some of the best minds come together from across the world to discuss and share insights with the Future Forward roadmap. The last panel discussion of the day at the 2018 Qwikcilver Gift Card conclave was an energetic session on the transformative journey of the gift card segment in India. Moderated by Mr. GK Suresh, Head - Strategic Partnerships, KCT Business School, the panel discussed the gifting challenges faced by their businesses, as well as their future plans for this space. Conversations around leveraging technology in the gift card segment kept the audience hooked and led to some engaging insights as well. As pointed out by the panel, shopping behaviour is driven by a basic consumption need, which largely remains the same, whether consumers shop online or offline. Today, however, with digital shopping methods having become the easiest way to transact – especially after the advent of smartphones – digital reach has become unprecedented. Against this backdrop, the journey of the digital gift card primarily follows online shopping trends in the country. Challenges of developing the digital gift cards market The possible actions of a consumer in the gifting universe could be walking into a brick-and-mortar store to pick up a physical gift or a gift card; going online to again pick up either a physical gift or a gift card; or even to digitally gift cash to the recipient for various online purchases. On the other hand, from the perspective of the retailer using a gift card instrument, the intention is to get the customer to come and shop on their platform. Whether physical or digital, there always exists the possibility of a sales multiplier arising with a customer walking in to redeem a gift card. In many cases, it may be the first experience of consumers on a platform, and the online footfall may be converted, attracting repeat consumers with the shopping experience. Businesses interested in getting consumers to go digital lies in the fact that it takes care of a lot of operational and logistics costs, while being immediate in nature. Going digital may be a greater challenge in tier-II and III locations compared to metro cities, but there is also a larger acceptance of digital platforms. In addition, there is a constant need to educate consumers, whether in tier-I or II and III towns and cities. Therefore, the challenge is not just about consumers using gift cards as a gifting option, but also about hand holding in terms of giving them a complete experience of the digital gifting platform. A challenge for a physical store is often about where to display the gift cards. Sometimes customers are unaware that gift cards are available in the store. So communication becomes key in such cases. How can digital gifting become an emotional experience? As a generational shift, people today have tended to move away from choosing what someone might want to buy and instead gift them a ‘purchase option’. This ‘choice of a gift’ is much more vibrant when one gifts someone a card over a physical gift. “That is where the card as a gifting solution works really well, with the personal choice of the recipient,” says SK Prasad of Zestmoney. Adds Apoorv Kalra from Myntra, “Apparel has traditionally been a gift product across households and occasions. That’s where the Myntra gift cards solve an apparel gifting need. We have tried to gamify the experience by creating an emotional connect in the gift card category, where someone can actually send a recommended catalogue for the recipient to choose from. This becomes a very personalised act to create as well as to receive.” Kalra suggests further personalisation options by placing an image of the recipient or a video of the sender along with an eGift card, complete with special occasion wishes. As far as a platform like MakeMyTrip is concerned, one can gift a holiday or an airline trip. The site also offers special occasion gift cards for weddings, anniversaries, Mother’s Day, etc. The point to note here is that the recipients place a high emotional value to the cards, since they represent the thought that, say, children have put into gifting their parents a holiday. It stirs an emotional chord and they cherish it. At moments like these, digital gifting does not remain impersonal any more. Shares SK Prasad, “In our category it works in ways such as a parent choosing to pick up the EMIs on a card or low-income segment buyers being given a much-needed cash element, which is a great gift option for them. The use cases are very different. Customers from tier-II and III cities often walk in to buy white goods for their families, or children in metros buy cash gift cards for their parents. When you bring EMIs into the game, it becomes a very personal decision. The purpose becomes very deeply linked to why someone is being given a gift card.” Digital gifting, therefore, does not remain cold and impersonal, if one is able to present it in a relevant manner to the consumer. Ajay Sukumaran of Future Group recounts how they created an alternative for the Diwali Gift Card for the first time to connect with consumers in East India. “We realised that in the East there was no point offering a Diwali Gift Card, because it’s all about Pujo. So for the first time, we created a Pujo Gift Card; and the corporates just lapped it up. Currently we’re looking at other regional occasions like Baisakhi and Vishu for instance, rather than just a Big Bazar Gift Card.” How can the B2C business share grow? About 80-85% of the gift card market is currently driven by the B2B segment, with corporate gifting programs, credit card reward programs, channel partner incentives, etc. Of this share, digital gift cards are a growing category. To get consumers to increasingly share gift cards, one needs to involve classic marketing strategies feels Meera Iyer of Big Basket. “It is about the market development of a gift card. As of now, more than 80% of our business comes from the B2B sector, and unless we invest in consumer marketing, this will not change. The moment you get into consumer insights, capture it and put it on mass media, especially TV, the industry will explode from the B2B to the B2C segment.” The growth of B2C sales is not going to happen just by running individual campaigns around gift cards during festive seasons, for instance. As Kalra points out, “The fact is that with gifting, the ‘need’ status does not carry any urgency with it. You have to be top-of-mind with the consumer, the instant he/she thinks about gifting. That’s where I believe brand marketing plays a larger role, because it creates that top-of-mind slot about a gift card solution available on a platform.” Adding to that thought, says SK Prasad, “In terms of gift card options, consumers from tier-II and III towns see an Amazon or a Flipkart or a Myntra advertisement, and they give online purchases a try. With an entire generation of young consumers, whether from the metros or the hinterland, who have been brought up on a diet of mobile phones, the market is also changing very fast.”