Gearing up for Gifting: Key Takeaways from NAPCO Research’s First Gift Card eCommerce Evaluation

Evaluation Analyzes Gift Card Ecommerce Offerings of 100 Top Merchants

Today’s consumers demand great end-to-end experiences in store and online—and this expectation extends to gift cards as well. After all, according to a recent report from the National Retail Federation, gift cards have been the most requested holiday gift by consumers for the past 11 years. This bit of knowledge coupled with the fact that the gift card market is forecasted by Gartner to reach $160 billion this year, should be all the incentive needed for merchants to set higher goals for their gift card programs moving forward. However, realizing the potential is only half the battle when it comes to advancing business goals. Merchants also need to equip themselves with assessments and benchmark evaluations of their and others’ gift card program, which is why Blackhawk Network sponsored NAPCO Research‘s evaluation of 100 merchants across 14 highly-giftable vertical markets. The analysis of the evalaution provides merchants with a holistic landscape view of merchant gift card ecommerce offerings.

Measured against nearly 100 criteria, scored highest in the evaluation, receiving 71 percent of the total 200 available points. L.L. Bean and Macy’s followed at 70 percent. Six of the top 10 programs are powered by Blackhawk Network’s prepaid technology. Blackhawk Network clients dominated the top-25 ranking in the primary online customer journey category as well. However, the average score across all brands evaluated was just 42 percent. Clearly, merchants still have work to do when it comes to improving the customer experience across gift card ecommerce channels.

For many merchants, particularly brick-and-mortar retailers, gift cards can serve as an accessible, affordable way to help reverse declining customer traffic and sales. Merchants that fail to adapt their gifting strategies to align with market realities and consumer expectations are missing out, and they risk losing valuable holiday sales to savvier competitors. In particular, retail brands might consider the below findings from NAPCO Research’s report in an effort to strengthen their own gift card programs:

  • Only 36 percent of merchants evaluated sell both digital and physical gift cards via their commerce channels.
  • Mobile web and mobile app gifting experiences need improvement, especially with mobile forecast by Statista to account for 34 percent of total U.S. ecommerce sales this year.
  • Forty-one percent of merchants have no mention of a B2B gifting program on their website.
  • Just half of the merchants evaluated are taking advantage of gift card promotions.

Despite these areas of improvement, merchants should remain optimistic, as the results of this evaluation clearly indicate that gift card ecommerce is an area where any retail brand can compete. By ensuring a seamless gift card purchase experience from discovery through delivery across all channels, merchants can anticipate consumer demand, gain a competitive edge and boost sales figures in their gift card programs this year.

To view data and insights from NAPCO’s evaluation and to download a copy of the report, visit