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Dec 1, 2016

Christmas shopping dilemmas – fixed?

This week, Rob Day, Developer at Toolbox Group, looks at the purchasing dilemmas when looking for a perfect gift for someone other than yourself…

With Christmas nearly here, there’s a good chance you are reading this with the panic stricken worry of still trying to find those perfect gifts for your loved ones. You’re not alone!

I often start my present buying by taking a day off work and walking around the local shopping centre for inspiration. Usually, 10 minutes into the process I am contemplating whether or not I can afford the latest PlayStation or talking to the salesman about what possible colours my new smart phone can come in. It’s not a surprise really, as the whole shopping experience is designed to draw you into purchasing items that catch your eye. After an hour or two I’ll return home with my new computer and realise I haven’t bought anything for anyone other than myself. With the shops now shut I revert to hunting around Amazon for some last minute deals where again I end up purchasing more “must have” items for myself.

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Back in 2012, Roy Erez latched onto this dilemma and decided to build a company called Loop Commerce. According to Erez, Loop was born from a feeling of frustration with the online gift-buying experience.

“While trying to buy meaningful gifts for our families and friends, we realised that something major was broken: online stores simply weren’t designed for shopping for someone else, let alone the rich and complex experience of choosing and buying a product as a gift for someone you care about.”

With this in mind, Erez decided to take a new spin on buying online. The idea behind Loop is that shoppers select a product on a partaking retailer’s website and choose to send it as an electronic gift. They enter their family or friends name and email address — as well as their own — and decide when they want the digital gift delivered. After typing out a personal message and providing their payment information, the receiver is sent an email from the store notifying them of the gift. But before they can redeem it, they can choose the size and colour that they prefer, or opt to exchange it for something else. That not only cuts back on the guesswork for shoppers, but eliminates much of the risk for retailers.


Although the company Loop is aimed at e-commerce, this could be something shopping centre retailers incorporate into their click and collect service. Instead of buying the latest iPhone in green, only to find out your son wanted it in sliver, you could buy the product without any customisation’s and let them decide. When the special day comes around, an email is fired to that person (or the store calls them) explaining that a gift has been bought for them and asks them to come into the store to customise their product. Personally I think it’s much better than sending a voucher with a message “Sorry I didn’t know what colour you wanted, but I know you love this phone, so here’s something towards it”. It would also give the retailer a chance to sell them additional extras like a phone case, which no doubt would have been “out of stock” when buying online, or have to be shipped separately causing a dilemma of when the gift will arrive, should I split the deliveries?

I think the idea of buying a default product against people coming into a store and customising it, would be great for retailers, as it would reduce their returns and probably help them to manage their stock levels better. We’ll have to keep an eye on this idea to see if it takes off, but I certainly could have used it this Christmas!

For innovative ideas that keep up with the fast paced world of shopping, contact us at Toolbox Group to discuss what you might need.