The best digital gift cards of 2011
Holiday shoppers love them. But some companies, like Apple and Office Depot, haven't jumped on the e-card bandwagon.
This post comes from partner site MainStreet.
The Home Depot retained its title as the retailer with the best digital gift cards, according to an annual report from RSR Research.
Best Buy and Williams-Sonoma snagged second and third in the rankings, respectively, positions previously held by CVS and Amazon.
Digital gift cards, or e-cards, are purchased online and sent to recipients via email. The cards have become increasingly popular during the past few years by serving busy consumers who need to do some last-minute holiday shopping and may not have time to send an actual gift card.
RSR's report evaluates digital gift card offerings from the Internet Top 100 Retailers, using 22 criteria, including the comprehensiveness of the offering, the selection experience, the purchase experience and the recipient experience.
Amazon and Gap/L.L. Bean rounded out the report's list of the top five retailers cited as having the best digital gift cards.
RSR says the retailers taking the top spots generally list their offerings prominently on their websites, notify a buyer when the gift is delivered, and eliminate the need to enter any shipping information. Post continues after video.
The report says more retailers should offer the opportunity to personalize a gift or greeting, citing top-ranked Home Depot, which lets buyers record a video message for the gift card recipient. It also suggests offering e-cards through social networks, as Best Buy does, or through mobile apps, as REI, Lowe's, Victoria's Secret, Amazon and J.C. Penney do.
"Consumers will expect mobile digital gift card offerings, and retailers who offer personalized digital gift cards will continue to enjoy significant differentiation," says Nikki Baird, RSR Research analyst and co-author of the report.
RSR Research found, overall, that the number of retailers offering digital gift cards increased 47% during the past year, with 59 of the top 100 retailers offering them.
According to the report, Apple, Office Depot, Office Max and Sony are among the top 100 brands that still do not offer digital gift cards to their customers.
More on MainStreet and MSN Money:
During Christmas 2010 I bought Blockbuster gift cards for friends. Blockbuster filed for bankruptcy and the cards were not honored, so my friends got nothing !!!. With this bad economy, any company can do the same and your gift card will be just plastic. Better give cash and hugs .
Best Buy is NOT a good company to buy electronic: too expensive and worst Return Policy. Doublecheck before you spend any dollars.
Electronic Gift Cards are the biggest profits because most of the customers forgot to use them.
Watch out for additional service contracts, waste of money...Best Buy is quick to take your money...but never honor any values.
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