Written by Natasha Borato
“Innovation” and “disruption” have become the buzzwords of the millennium, yet a number of large industries have managed to dodge the innovation bandwagon. The gifting industry is one of them.
Surely, gifts themselves have undergone major makeovers with tech gadgets popping up from Amazon to Apple stores and from wearables to virtual reality across the country. But the process of finding, selecting, buying and sending a meaningful and thoughtful gift to your loved one remains stuck in the last millennium. The gift card is ready for a rebrand.
The gift card dilemma
The last meaningful, game-changing innovation in the gifting space was the introduction of gift cards back in 1995, almost 25 years ago! Gift cards were first launched by Blockbuster, a company that redefined the video rental industry, putting thousands of mom-and-pop stores out of business. Ironically, they were put out of business by Netflix, who reinvented the industry with a mail-order DVD alternative that saved you the trip to the video store and offered a huge selection of titles with none of those annoying late fees. A few years later, Netflix reinvented itself and the industry with a highly successful streaming service. Within the same timeframe, gift cards still remain largely unchanged, except for the introduction of current e-gift cards, a cosmetic change at best, which didn’t address many of the issues the plastic cards carry.
Since their introduction, gift cards have come a long way to become the most coveted gift by Americans, growing into a $140B industry. Yet, they continue to carry a substantial amount of baggage. Gift cards are often lost, stolen or merely go unused, representing about $10 billion in lost consumer value. In addition, the selection of gift cards is mostly limited to big-box retailers and chain establishments, making for very impersonal gifts. While these plastic gifts are convenient and desired, gift card givers often feel their intent and sentiment gets lost in a sea of mall brands that fail to get the right and intended message to the recipient.
Why gift cards need a makeover
Gifting is a beautiful form of human expression that is as old and primitive as humankind, dating back to neanderthal times. Gifting was born out of a human desire to connect, to generate authentic, meaningful connections between people. At its best, gifting reinforces or enhances relationships, and often even creates new ones. Yet this beautiful sentiment has been loaded with inconvenience, anxiety and time consumption. Worse yet, it has been corrupted by superficial, manipulative or “trying-to-impress” intentions. Current gifting processes and options lead us to pick what we want to gift, or what is less inconvenient, and not what the other person wants to receive, which largely defeats the purpose.
There is a huge opportunity to fix this by providing a platform that empowers people with intuitive and seamless technology that solves all these issues – convenience, immediacy, time-saving, personalization, and ultimately the ability to deliver next-generation e-gift cards that make people connect. A thoughtless gift will go largely unused and/or unnoticed. A thoughtful gift, on the contrary, will connect both sender and recipient the way it was meant to. A memorable, authentic and emotional connection that brings people closer together.
Related post: The A to Z Gift-Giving Guide
The future of gift cards is here
Enter GiftYa. Serial entrepreneur and GiftCards.com founder and former CEO, Jason Wolfe, decided to take the challenge to innovate upon the very industry he helped evolve. Soon after Netflix put Blockbuster out of business, it knew its own disruptive model was coming under scrutiny with the advent of streaming media. So it reinvented itself as the streaming media giant it is today. Wolfe took the first step at transitioning gift cards from the supermarket racks to your smartphones and desktops, building the largest online portal for gift cards. Now he sees the opportunity to leverage technology to change the game altogether again with a product that offers convenience and personalization and is able to deliver on that human connection at the center of the act of gifting.
GiftYa, a beautifully presented personalized gift alternative that cannot be lost or stolen, provides the ability to buy an e-gift for any merchant – local and national, small and large – anywhere in the country and delivered in seconds. From the convenience of your smartphone, you can deliver an immediate e-gift, or schedule it for a special date, personalize it with a photo or video, a message, and most importantly, select that special local store, restaurant, spa or bed and breakfast that lets the recipient know and appreciate how much thought went into it.