by Deanna Ting | September 15, 2015
Today, Retail Systems Research (RSR) unveiled the results of its fifth benchmarking study on the digital gifting industry. Called "Digital Gift Cards: A Key Indicator of Omni-Channel Alignment," and conducted since 2010, the study examines the digital gifting experiences of some of the top U.S. retailers in categories ranging from fashion and apparel to health and beauty, as well as department and big-box stores.
"Consistency across channels -- or lack thereof -- was a key theme in our research this year," said Nikki Baird, managing partner at RSR Research and co-author of the report. "As companies add new touchpoints and as the sophistication of mobile and social channels grow, digital gift cards can become a barometer for how well retailers are integrating their digital channels." Baird also noted, "Digital gifting certainly plays an important role in the customer experience and clearly demonstrates to shoppers that you're dedicated to providing an optimal customer experience across channels."
OF all the 100 retailers included in the study, The Home Depot scored the highest with a total of 51.5 out of 75 possible points,  securing a No. 1 ranking in four of RSR's five studies thus far. The report notes Home Depot makes gift cards easy to find and provides personalization options so buyers can customize their gifts. In addition to setting -- and meeting -- expectations for delivery times, The Home Depot is also employing mobile integration, including mobile wallets.
Other retailers with top digital gift card programs include Sephora (50.5 points), Starbucks (49 points), Ulta Cosmetics (49 points), Dunkin' Donuts (49 points), (48 points) and Best Buy (48 points). All provided gift cards that were easy to find, regardless of channel; purchases that are integrated with product carts and plastic card purchases; the ability to personalize gift cards for each recipient; mobile delivery and extensive notification options to both the buyer and recipient; mobile-optimized purchases on both the mobile Web and within mobile apps; and the ability to add gift cards to mobile wallets.
"This year, we were pleased to see that 82 of the 100 retail and restaurant brands we looked at now provide digital gifting -- quite the leap from just 40 in 2010," said Steve Rowen, managing partner at RSR Research and co-author of the report. "But as we evaluated these retailers' experiences, we quickly realized that digital gifting looks deceptively easy to execute, but in reality can be hard -- especially when it comes to executing seamlessly across channels, which is where many retailers fell short."
As part of the report, RSR found 13 retailers who were unable to deliver a digital gift card on the first try and four were unable to deliver the cards after three attempts to contact or work with customer service.