30% of Top 500 web merchants offer gift services

December 4, 2013 03:59 PM

As time runs out for harried holiday gift buyers, Shutterfly Inc. offers a quick fix: its 5-Minute gift guide. The 5-Minute guide is part of an extensive range of gift ideas and features ready-to-order products, such as holiday-themed coffee mugs, as well as personalized gifts, such as mouse pads and jigsaw puzzles made from uploaded customer photos.

Shutterfly, No. 49 in Internet Retailer’s 2013 Top 500 Guide, specializes in personalized photo-based products and offers gift suggestions year-round, a spokeswoman says. Sales of holiday-themed products listed in the e-retailer’s gift guide increase along with general sales volume this time of year, but “we see shoppers buy our products as gifts throughout the year,” the spokeswoman says. She declined to provide specific sales metrics.

Shutterfly doesn’t offer gift wrapping, in part because some fragile personalized products such as ornaments present enough packaging challenges, she says. Gift wrapping is offered by 136, or 27.2%, of the 2013 Top 500 e-retailers, an analysis of data shows.

Among the four merchant types tracked in Internet Retailer’s 2013 Top 500, all but catalogers increased or maintained their gift services offerings compared with the previous year. Consumer brand manufacturers, who make up the smallest percentage of merchant types in the Top 500 at 13.2%, showed the widest gains from 2012 to 2013, with 22 of 66 merchants offering gift wrapping, or 33.3%, in 2013, up from 16 of 63 (25.4%) in 2012.

Brand manufacturers also logged the most significant year-to-year growth in terms of gift messages (to 24 from 19 merchants) and gift center (to 14 from nine) offerings in 2013. Gift center encompasses gift suggestions and services, and can include event and seasonal products.

Web-only retailers in the 2013 Top 500 upped their gift services as well, most notably in gift-related messaging, with 52 e-retailers offering the service compared with 41 in the prior year. Gift centers were featured by 48 online-only retailers compared with 42 in the 2012 edition, and gift wrapping increased to 35 from 30.

Retail chains didn’t change much from year to year in total companies offering gift services, but accounted for some of the largest percentages of merchants offering gift services: 58 of 158 chain retailers (36.7%) provide both gift center and wrapping, while 65 (41.1%) provided gift messages.

Catalogers’ overall numbers in the 2013 Top 500 rose from 63 to 65 in the 2013 Top 500, but those offering gift wrapping dipped from 23 merchants to 21 and those featuring gift messages stayed the same as in the 2012 Guide, at 25.

There are 12 merchants in 2013 Top 500 flowers and gifts merchandising category, compared with 11 in the 2012 edition. In this year’s edition, eight merchants offered all three of the gift services tracked in the guide, much the same as last year.




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