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Sephora, Footlocker among first brands to use mobile e-gift cards on Vodi

Sephora, Bed, Bath & Beyond, eBay and Footlocker are just a few of the big name brands that are making use of a new messaging application to allow customers to send mobile e-gift cards to their friends.

The app is called Vodi and it is making a splash in the world of mobile messaging apps with its e-gift card capability. Consumers can send gift cards to their friends quickly and easily through the app from many popular brands.

“According to, gift cards of both physical and digital varieties account for more than 18% of all holiday purchases, and eGift cards take an increasingly larger portion of that share as the season progresses,” said a spokesperson at Vodi.

Mobile gift cards
Gift cards have been a staple of the retail world for years, and as the industry has moved towards digital and mobile, the world of gift cards has as well.

The gift card industry is currently valued at $120 billion – and mobile e-gift cards are the fastest growing contributor to that amount. E-gift cards went from a value of $5 billion to $6 billion between 2013 and 2014 and are expected to reach $14 billion by 2017.

What is more is that recent data shows that 56 percent of consumers prefer to keep their gift cards stored digitally on their phones. Vodi is responding to that desire by making itself the hub for mobile e-gift cards.

Vodi is looking to differentiate itself from the other mobile messaging apps out there, such as Kik and Viber, by staking its claim on mobile e-gift cards.

While other messaging apps have begun to expand their feature-set – think Apple’s iMessage app store and Facebook Messenger’s integration of chatbots – Vodi is taking a different route and starting by making its app a capable commerce tool first.

To aid that transition, Vodi has enlisted a veritable who’s who of brands to be among the first to be compatible with the app’s gifting capability.

Among them are Sephora, eBay, AMC Theaters, Bed, Bath & Beyond and Foot Locker. These brands will represent the first wave of retailers that will give consumers the ability to share mobile gift cards with their friends.

Crowded market
Messaging apps have begun a quiet spurt of growth in recent months, particularly among the valuable younger demographics that use messaging apps more often than other services.

In response to this popularity, brands have begun adding and adding to their messaging app’s features, taking them beyond simple back-and-forth messages and adding in things such as financial transfers, stickers, sharing locations, chatbots and other services that all seek to expand what a messaging app is capable of.

Mobile gift cards are one area that messaging has done little to broach – the most notable example being Dunkin’ Donuts iMessage app that allows consumers to send gift cards to their friends through their Apple devices’ proprietary messaging service (see story).

Other apps have begun other commerce-focused initiatives, such as Viber’s recent integration of a full-service financial chatbot that is compatible with a number of banks and lets consumers make decisions and transfers through the messaging app.

Vodi is banking on the star power of the brands associated to make a good first impression and carve out a place in the crowded messaging world.

“Digital over plastic is becoming the norm for last-minute purchases, with 67 percent of gift card purchases made online in December 2014 being of the digital variety,” the spokesperson said.