As Christmas approaches, many people feeling the stress of last-minute preparations will be leaving their gift-wrapping to an expert, in the shape of the service you can receive from various retailers. The customers' shopping experience can be enhanced when stores offer useful services.
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Many major retailers offer gift wrapping as an optional extra, seeing it as a valuable tool to give them the edge over competitors. It's offered not only in high street stores but also online. However, the advantages of gift wrapping must be carefully weighed up against the disadvantages to estimate whether it's really worthwhile.
Who offers gift wrapping?
Just about all of the top high street retailers in London (and many smaller stores) offer optional gift wrap. For many brands, it's an all-year-round service that becomes more popular as Christmas approaches.
The luxury department store Selfridges offers a personalised gift box service online. By clicking on "Gift Box" at the checkout, customers' purchases will arrive wrapped in the brand's signature yellow box with a personal message. At the Oxford Street branch, gift wrapping is also offered in person.
Providing a bespoke service, Harrods in Knightsbridge has its own gift-wrapping team, offering various options for small and large gifts. The customer is shown eye-catching examples of gift wrap before they make their choice. These include expensive and luxurious wrapping papers and ribbons in the whole spectrum of colours, with amazing finishing touches, such as berry bouquets and wooden toys!
The famous jewellery retailer, Links of London, believes a precious jewel is one of the most special presents anyone can receive. Every item is beautifully packed in the famous Links' cream box tied with a silky black ribbon. This comes as standard with all purchases.
Hamleys toy store in London's Regent Street provides standard or premium gift wrapping. Each box has a magnetic closing lid in small, medium and large sizes, complete with a tag for a personal message.
Even some of the supermarkets offer gift wrapping in specific departments - for example, the larger branches of Tesco offer gift wrap for purchases of perfume in the run-up to Christmas.
How many people use the gift wrapping service?
Although there isn't a definitive survey of UK high street retailers to ascertain the percentage of customers who use their gift wrapping services, it's something that many busy shoppers appear to value at this time of year.
However, a study of 50 online brands by ecommerce company Shopify indicates gift wrapping isn't something that a number of retailers particularly value. In fact, a massive 84% of respondents said they didn't normally offer gift wrapping to go with a purchase!
Considering an estimated $3.2 billion is spent on gift wrap every year, including wrapping paper, gift tags, ribbons and gift boxes, it seems retailers who don't offer the service could be missing out on an important part of the Christmas market.
In today's difficult trading climate, which has worsened due to continuing uncertainty over Brexit, any marketing activity that could give one retailer the edge over another should surely be welcomed enthusiastically?
There are various considerations that a retailer must take into account when it comes to adding services. If they are considering offering gift wrapping, then the cost this adds to the purchase, the time it takes and the extra packaging required need to be taken into account to estimate whether it's a cost-effective option.
Why don't people like wrapping presents?
A survey of shoppers asked why they would consider using a store's gift wrapping service. Most people had multiple reasons for asking a retailer to gift wrap on their behalf.
The majority of shoppers (52%) said they disliked wrapping presents because it took too long, 27% said they found it annoying because the paper always ripped, 22% said they particularly hated wrapping presents that were an awkward shape or size and 13% said they felt overwhelmed at the prospect of wrapping gifts, because it seemed such a big job.
So retailers who don't offer the service could be missing out on a way of boosting their sales.
When gift wrap goes wrong
When customers say "yes" to gift wrap, it's important that the store doesn't try too hard. Most people who request gift wrap are likely to be too busy to set aside time for wrapping presents themselves, so it follows they will appreciate a quick service.
The famous scene from the 2003 Christmas romantic comedy, Love Actually, when company director Harry (Alan Rickman) tries to buy a necklace as a surprise gift for his secretary, shows customer service at its worst!
In the film, sales assistant Rufus (Rowan Atkinson) becomes increasingly irritating after initially asking Harry, "Would you like it gift-wrapped?"
Harry says yes, but Rufus takes so long that Harry starts panicking, in case his wife spots him buying jewellery for another woman!
His continual pleas to Rufus to wrap the necklace "rather quickly" fall on deaf ears. Eventually, Harry ends up hopping mad and leaves the necklace behind, after deciding he doesn't want it enclosed in a giant gold box with a cinnamon stick and a bough of holly!
When a retailer offers to gift wrap, they're venturing into an almost sacred place between family and friends. Customers are trusting a stranger with a great responsibility, so it's important not to let them down - make every gift look special so that customers will wonder why they ever wrapped presents themselves in the first place!
Help make your customers' shopping experience as pleasant as possible by kitting out your retail premises with the best display equipment around. KAS Shopfittings supplies a variety of shop fittings including shelving, counters, slatwall, card racks and more, for nationwide delivery. Give us a call on 01793 754230 for further information.