NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Despite occasional fees, restrictions and the fact that they show pretty much not thought whatsoever, consumers still love receiving gift cards.
In fact, according to Giftly, a San Francisco-based gifting company, gift card revenue in America will total more than $100 billion this year. But as any gift card receiver knows, the problem with traditional gift cards is that we often lose them or wait too long to use them before they expire.
The solution: Mobile gift cards, which allow gift cards to be sent via mobile phone.
While it’s important to note that Giftly has a vested interest in promoting gift card sales, the company predicts that mobile gift cards will be increasingly popular this holiday shopping season based on data from the National Retail Federation, which says that about 50% of all smartphone users will use their devices to “support” their holiday shopping this season.
The NRF says that consumers will also use their smartphones to redeem coupons (17%), buy gifts using their smartphones (14%) and use mobile tablet computers to shop for the holidays (70%).
“More and more we’re seeing our lives centered on our mobile phones, reflecting both the need for personalization and anytime, anywhere convenience,” explains Tim Bentley, CEO and founder of Giftly, in an official statement. “Traditional plastic gift cards are the opposite of that. The feedback we’re hearing is that people don’t want to worry about carrying around yet another gift card for fear of losing or forgetting about it, let alone its environmental impact.”
The idea of taking the gift card model and moving it to a smartphone or tablet does make a lot of sense since it makes the customer/retailer relationship more “seamless,” says Giftly.
And retailers seem to agree. Best Buy (Stock Quote: BBY), Staples (Stock Quote: SPLS) and American Express (Stock Quote: AXP) have all added mobile gift cards (or "e-cards") this year, according to the Retail Gift Card Association, and the industry has grown 4% in 2011 to $97 billion, the RGCA reports.
So if you’re stuck for a gift idea this year, consider a mobile gift card for all the smartphone-obsessed names on your list.
For a full breakdown of which stores are doing what for Black Friday, check out MainStreet's Ultimate Guide to Black Friday 2011!