There’s no judgement here. We’ve all been there, the day before a birthday or even Christmas Eve, wondering what to buy and where to buy it.
Last-minute gift buyers usually have a valid reason, of course. They may have a busy work schedule, wait until the final days in an effort to shop strategically, or just simply be classic procrastinators. But as a retailer, you don’t need to know why customers are leaving things until the last minute, just that they do.
A study found that up to 40% of shoppers wait until the last minute to buy gifts, so anything you can do as a retailer to cater to these customers who are trying to make something work at the last possible moment will go a long way to creating a loyal and returning customer base.
There’s a clear market for last-minute gifts, especially around gifting seasons. Google search data collected by UK Greetings found that searches for ‘last-minute gifts’ in the week leading up to Christmas were 1,027% higher than the yearly average. Meanwhile, gift-givers in Northern Ireland and Scotland were more likely to seek out last-minute gifts than their English and Welsh counterparts.
But how do you make the process easier for shoppers, and in turn, maximise potential sales? Jill Alexander, Head of Marketing Communications at UK Greetings, one of the largest direct to retail publishers of greeting cards and social expression products in the UK, offers up four ways address this.
1. Invest Time in Providing Online Options for Night-Owls & Panic-Buyers
Realistically, most stores can’t stay open 24 hours a day 7 days a week, so for those shoppers that have left things to the last minute, make things as easy as possible to buy if they do happen to be doing their shopping at midnight! You can really cater to those night-owls and last-second buyers by making it easy to browse online. It saves valuable time not having to make their way to the high-street and battle through crowded stores filled with other stressed panic-buyers.
Retailers can curate potential last-minute gift ideas for targeted markets by grouping items together by topic, season, or specific interest. For example, a could amend their homepage featured items to suit the upcoming season, whether that be Christmas, Easter, or Valentine’s Day.
E-tailers can set up collections online that offer customers similar suggested items. This is also something that can be translated to in-store setups, with specific displays, additional items at the till-point, and aisle endcaps.
2. Provide Easy Purchases & Increased Accessibility for Non-Personal Gift Buyers
Making gift cards easily accessible both in-store and digitally can really drive those additional sales, as gift cards are an ideal last-minute solution for those customers who need something quickly but don’t necessarily require carefully selected or highly personal gifts. For those buying online, provide more flexibility by allowing multiple delivery options in the form of multiple denominations, designs, and whether they would like the gift voucher physically, digitally, or both!
Those with a little more time may prefer to receive a physical item in the post so they can wrap it up and give it to their recipient in person. But for those who are really cutting it fine, it pays to offer delivery options that include email and mobile.
If you’re offering gift cards in-store, ensure they are positioned near to the till-points, as then they are easy to find for those with less time on their hands. Retailers can provide custom envelopes, nicely designed card holders, or even gift-boxes for those customers who are looking for that slightly more personal touch. It’s a small addition, but it makes a gift card a little more tangible and has a better impact, which increases likelihood to purchase.
Offer up some last-minute gift ideas for shoppers through a dedicated ‘gifts’ page by curating products and items that always land well as presents. Creating a section, online or in-store, for well-priced gifts is a savvy way to convert shoppers into customers while also saving them time. Some of the best options for till-side displays can be neutrally designed accessories such as watches or jewellery, on-trend wall art prints, bath accessories and pampering products, or perfumes and colognes.
3. Work to Become Their Go-To Retailer: Look After Customers’ Pain Points
Many last-minute shoppers are often stressed and under pressure, so offering a gift-wrapping service can really cut out a vital time-consuming part of the process for them.
Attractive gift wrapping with a subtle brand logo added can be a great marketing tool to increase brand awareness while increasing customer satisfaction. A carefully thought-out gift-wrapping design can also help a younger brand make a name.
You can make a big impact by catering to your customers’ unique needs and offering anything you can to ease some stress or frustration around last-minute shopping. By looking at customers’ pain points around time-saving, money-saving, and stress-saving, you will quickly become their go-to retailer for those fast-approaching events.
4. Remember, greetings cards play a significant role in gift-giving
What gift is complete without a card? A card is the best opportunity to say why your recipient is important to you and why this gift suits them perfectly. You can find a card for any occasion, and it’s the perfect little touch on top of your hurried present purchases. A greeting card can also be a gift on its own, with unique designs that your friends and family will love. Money or gift cards inside can be a bonus and are simple enough to organise when you’re in a rush. Often, even a last-minute gift like a card can be just as meaningful.
Jill Alexander, Head of Marketing Communications at UK Greetings, suggests that greeting cards have a bigger role to play in gift-giving than you may think. Jill Alexander said: “While we all love to receive gifts, greeting cards play a significant role in establishing those all-important connections we feel when exchanging presents and sending a card.
“Some people will keep greeting cards for a lifetime, looking back on them like fond memories. So, while you’re last-minute shopping, remember to take the time to select and send a card.”
Retailers can capitalise on this moment by making greetings cards an optional bonus at checkout. If you know that a last-minute gift is being bought, ensure that they can get a last-minute card. Explain to them why a card will complete their gift!
Capitalise on these tips to capture the last-minute gift buyers
Try implementing these ideas to capture the attention of your audience and remind them that you are on hand to help them buy gifts for their loved ones, however late they have left it!
Holly brings a wealth of experience in both print and digital publishing. As Modern Retail’s Content Editor, Holly is passionate about helping independent retailers to thrive in today’s ever-changing market.