by Alex Palmer | August 23, 2016
Sephora, Starbucks, and Home Depot offer the best digital gift card experiences, according to a recent report from research firm Retail Systems Research (RSR). That was the result of the organization's annual ranking of consumers' experience with digital gift cards -- which strongly influences redemption in incentive programs. 

Titled "Digital Gift Cards In 2016: Where Omni-Channel Strategy Meets Customer Expectations," the report assigned point values to various aspects of their experience with digital gift cards for 100 top retailers, restaurants, and airlines. Among the 22 criteria to which respondents assigned points were the seamlessness of the experience of using gift cards across all channels such as in-store, online, and mobile (omni-channel), as well as bulk buying, ability to use credit card loyalty points to make a purchase, and mobile capabilities.

Out of 66 possible points, Sephora received the highest scores, with 55 points. This was followed by Starbucks (50.5 points), The Home Depot (46.5 points), Dunkin' Donuts (44.5 points), and Amazon (43 points).

"Consumers are increasingly engaging with retailers through digital channels first, creating a demand for the retailer to be where the customer is," said Nikki Baird, managing partner at RSR Research. "Retailers need the capabilities to handle all the things a customer wants from them when they are online and on mobile, and that includes gift cards."

Baird added that while many of this year's top performers have a strong mobile offering, many of the brands on the list are struggling with optimizing their programs. According to the company, Sephora earned top marks thanks to doing well across all three major categories of criteria: discoverability, purchase experience, and recipient experience.

The full report includes rankings for all retailers, restaurants, and airlines evaluated as well as details about what went right and what went wrong in the buyer and recipient experiences. The report, whicht also includes advice for strengthening gift card programs, can be downloaded from the CashStar website.