By Sue Chapman

Last week, we talked about ways to make your gift guides stand out by exploring creative gift segments and making it easy for your customers to find the right gifts. But gifting techniques don’t end there. Product finders and gift cards also have their own unique merchandising elements that can help you close a sale.

Product Finders

Product finders often show a higher conversion rate and average order value than basic navigation. And they can be relatively easy to create to use for gift shopping with just a few simple questions, such as Who are you shopping for? and How much do you want to spend? Several of our clients using product finders to help their customers shop for the perfect gift have seen improvements. One client, in particular, saw an 11% increase in conversion rate, a 5% increase in average order value and an 8% increase in site revenue.

But don’t get caught up in tradition. Just like our tips from last week, be unique! Keep your questions fun to get the consumer engaged in the product search. Questions like age, gender and color selection are obviously helpful, but get creative with the language. Instead of asking about price parameters, for example, ask if you’re shopping for someone on the Naughty ($) or Nice ($$$$) list. Consider using a sliding scale instead of a drop down menu, as well, and guide your customers in the right direction by offering a selection around product type.

A final point on product finders: remember to leverage them throughout your site. If a consumer runs a search and ends up landing on a “no results” page, it’s a great place to provide that shopper with your product finder and/or a link to your gift categories to pull them back into the site to close a sale.

Gift Cards

There will always be a shopper who is having a hard time finding the right gift. So, don’t forget about them! Promote your gift cards. And gift cards are certainly a valuable option for the retailer, as well. A recent study done by the Retail Gift Card Association stated that 90% of consumers received a gift card over the past year, and 77% of consumers reported giving them over this same time frame. Additionally, according to Nielsen’s 2013 holiday survey, gift cards were reported as the most popular holiday gift to buy.

So how can you remind your customers about your gift cards, even as the countdown to the holidays rolls on? Here are some tips to consider:

  • Add ‘Gift Cards’ to your top navigation
  • Merchandise throughout the site by promoting gift cards on search result pages and “no result” search pages to pull shoppers back to the site
  • Create a ‘There’s still time!’ banner with items that can ship quickly, including gift cards

And consider using gift cards as a strategy to drive a follow-up purchase. If a customer buys certain products or spends a certain amount, give them a free gift card. This approach basically ensures a follow up visit and sale.

Stay tuned for our next tip: planning for Holiday Season 2015. It may seem like it’s too far away to think about, but what you learn from your merchandising efforts this year can make next year even more successful.

And don’t forget to read-up on the full list of tips in our Get Holiday Ready blog series: