The Best Digital Gift Cards

Deciding where to buy your holiday gift cards this year? According to RSR Research, your best bets are Home Depot, CVS or Amazon.com.

The retailers took the top three spots on the retail industry market research company's list of Digital Gifting Leaders, a report that examines which stores offer customers the best digital gift cards.

Digital gift cards, or e-cards, are purchased on the internet and sent to recipients in an e-mail. The cards have become increasingly popular during the past few years by serving busy consumers who need to do some last-minute holiday shopping. According to the report, the best gift cards are those that work online, in brick and mortar stores and on smartphones. Retailers scoring the highest were those that allowed consumers to customize offerings beyond simply specifying the amount.

"With the holiday season fast approaching, retailers should look at every touch point of their online gift card experience through the eyes of their customers. There are so many areas along the purchase path where retailers have significant opportunity, which could result in money left on the table, as well as dissatisfied customers," David Stone, CEO of Cashstar, a digital gifting and incentives company that sponsored the research, said in a press release. Home Depot and CVS are among CashStar's clients.

To get a better idea of which retailers were doing the best job of capitalizing in this burgeoning market, RSR analyzed the retailers on Internet Retailers Top 100 list. The company purchased then shopped using the gift cards where they were initially sold. Interestingly, only half of the retailers on the list offered gift cards.

The company then rated each retailer based on their digital gift card offering, using 20 criteria. The categories RSR focused on were selection, the comprehensiveness of the offerings, the ease of purchase and residual recipient experience. The study focused on digital gift card purchases made in July 2010.

Out of a possible score of 60, Home Depot garnered a total of 47 points. CVS scored 43, while the online retailer Amazon scored 41 points. American Eagle Outfitters and Sears, meanwhile,rounded out the list's top five with scores of 41 and 40, respectively.

Home Depot and CVS received top points for "selection experience" because both stores allow consumers to personalize cards by uploading images or photos directly onto them at purchase. Both retailers also received brownie points for notifying consumers when their gift cards were viewed, enabling buyers to ensure their gifts were received.

Amazon made the top three by scoring full points in the comprehensive offering category. The online retailer's gift cards were singled out for being easy to purchase and easy to use. Amazon also offers both digital and physical gift cards.

According to the report, many stores could benefit from the top-ranked retailers' strategies.

 

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