Virtual Gifting

November 2, 2011

The Official Merchant Services Blog continues its series focusing on the upcoming holiday shopping season and how the e-commerce industry is shaping the future of shopping. Yesterday we looked at Mobile Gift Cards and studied their potential to be a popular gift giving idea. They can end up being extremely easy to use and very convenient for shoppers in a pinch, turning the process into a few simple clicks and an e-mail away from delivering a gift card the recipient can then use instantly, no matter the distance between gifter and giftee.

Today we’re going to look at what was a burgeoning gift giving idea last year, that we predict will continue to build steam and become a major choice in holiday shopping ideas: Apps. Smartphones are obviously a very popular part of peoples’ everyday lives. And with that comes the apps that fuel their usage. This makes virtual gifting of those apps a viable and useful purchase option for consumers looking to give someone that perfect, albeit tiny, little gift that they know the person will enjoy. Be it a fun game like Angry Birds or Words With Friends or Plants vs. Zombies, or something more functional like a flashlight or Facebook messenger app, virtual gifts are fast becoming stocking stuffers. And as such, both Android and Apple have created a gift-giving functionality for their apps.

Here’s a story that ran in India’s The Business Standard giving tips and advice on which apps that may work as stocking stuffers for Apple and Android users. The article states: “Mobile applications or apps can keep tablet PC and smartphone users engaged for hours. With hundreds of apps releasing every day, these are the best gift this season for your app-addict friends or family members.” 

For iPhone users, the article runs through the process of either using their iTunes gift card service or using their “gift” button to virtually gift an app. It then suggests a short list of gift ideas:

  • Tweet Speaker, an app that lets users hear their twitter tweets in a hands free, convenient process that avoids having to finger through the updates.
  • LoopyHD, a music app that lets aspiring mobile DJs and musicians record music loops, merge them, import them and keep them all in sync.
  • Bobo Explores Light, an interactive learning tool that takes children on an educational journey to discover how light interacts with the world.

 

For Android users, the article details how Amazon has an Amazon App Store for Android ready to go.  The article states: “Amazon’s Appstore in fact puts Android within striking distance of the iTunes store for the first time, from a functionality and desirability perspective. Amazon’s Appstore gift cards, which you can email, send via Facebook, or even print out for any amount. This way you can give the gift of apps to other Android users, or provide your kids with an app allowance of sorts. To redeem, simply enter the card’s code value while purchasing the app from Amazon store.”

The Android Apps that are suggested are the Paper Camera App that gives you preview functionality through a viewfinder, and the Easy Tether app that lets you siphon off the internet connection from your phone to your computer.

As smartphones ingrain themselves more and more into our society, virtual gifting is going to become a much more commonplace activity. Driving the strength of e-commerce higher and higher. So just be aware that the holiday shopping season of 2011 is going to keep that business sector thriving.

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