Gap brand Athleta is becoming the first retailer to offer Loop Commerce's new GiftNow Card in stores, based on the vendor's e-gifting service. The card, available starting next week in 10 Athleta stores, will allow shoppers to buy any product as a gift. Then, gift receivers will be able to redeem their card online for a specific product rather than a dollar amount, according to a Gap blog.
Athleta and fellow Gap brand Banana Republic are also launching the online GiftNow service, the blog post stated. The service allows online shoppers to buy items on a retailer's website and send them to a gift recipient, who is then offered the opportunity to choose their preferred color, size and other options themselves, including the option to exchange the gift for something different.
The addition of Athleta and Banana Republic as GiftNow retail partners comes shortly after Target began offering GiftNow, and a month or so after Loop Commerce announced that it was issued a U.S. patent for the e-gifting service.
Loop Commerce now has relationships with several retailers, including Target, Banana Republic, Athleta, Michael Kors, Saks, Macy's, Bergdorf, Neiman Marcus, American Giant, Lilly Pulitzer, Vera Bradley and Tapestry, among others.
But Athleta is so far the only one of those retailers set to offer the service in stores, as Loop Commerce looks to break new ground for its service. Bringing an in-store angle to what has been an online-only offering could be challenging and risky, but it sounds like Loop Commerce has made it as simple as possible for Athleta: A customer selects a gift for someone in-store, and with an associate's help, that gift is virtually loaded to an Athleta GiftNow Card. After receiving their gift, the recipient visits the URL on their GiftNow Card to view their gift and accept it, customize or exchange it altogether based on their needs and preferences, at which point it ships straight to their preferred address.
What that means to the gift buyer is that a trip to a brick-and-mortar store is not wasted "just looking." That's a particularly enticing promise at the holiday season, when we all spend a little extra time looking for the perfect gift, but sometimes just can't find it — or maybe don't know what color or size our nephew or niece would prefer. It could also be appealing to late, time-strapped holiday shoppers trying to make a quick purchase.
That notion isn't lost on Athleta. "Athleta stores are designed to be places where shoppers can find exactly what they need, and offering the GiftNow Card at 10 stores across the country this holiday season is a new way for shoppers to pick out the perfect gift," Susan Goss Brown, VP of stores and operations at Athleta, said in the Gap blog post.
Essentially, the retailer gets a sale they might not have gotten otherwise, and the service could help bridge the gap between in-store and online shopping. Athleta's in-store rollout may seem limited for now, but the service could be expanded to more stores if it performs well — and possibly more retailers.