The buzzword in retail today is personalization.
The concept at its most basic level is nothing new or innovative, but retailers like to toss around the word as much as they do the term “customer experience.” After all, without personalization, what is customer experience?
But actual retail reinvention means mixing up the status quo, changing the way things have been done and bringing to market new technologies that combine age-old traditions with innovative, proprietary tech that changes the way people think about retail interactions.
Or in the case of Vift, it’s about changing the way people think about giving gifts.
When it comes to gift-giving, not much has evolved beyond fancy gift wrap, personalized gift notes and gift bags. But Vift is all about giving gift-giving a whole new lease on life. As explained by Jon Loew, founder and CEO of KeepTree (the company that powers Vift), Vift is a cloud-based personalized video message tool for online retailers who want to offer the gift-giver a unique opportunity to personalize gift–giving. Not only are those videos sent via email or text, but they are securely stored and bookmarked forever.
Here’s how it works.
Let’s say a consumer wants to send her mom a birthday gift. Instead of just shipping her a box with a note that’s typed out via the retailer’s computer in Courier 11 font and shipped out without much more thought, Vift steps in and offers its retail partners the ability to provide their customers with the next level of service — a personalized video.
Once the gift arrives at the recipient’s location, that video is then sent via email/text letting the customer know they not only have a gift but that that gift comes with a personalized video message.
“Based on the research we’ve done, people, if they are sending a gift or receiving a gift, there’s something about the brown box that comes in the mail with all the barcodes that makes it feel impersonal. It’s not coming with a bow tied on it. People still like to feel like the person who bought them the gift went out of their way to go get it. There’s an impersonal feeling, so we’re trying to add this personal feeling where the gift-giving experience is not only personal, but there’s a permanent connection between the brand, the sender and the recipient,” Loew explained.
From the retailer’s perspective, that connection between the sender and the brand is key. The added connection between the brand and the recipient is the next component. They too have the chance to become a brand ambassador and pass along a video message via a Vift retail partner to another person.
And the cycle continues.
“If somebody receives a gift and they receive a video along with it, the video they get is branded with the retailer. The person’s face is right there with them as they are opening the gift. And the branding remains associated with the retailer as long as the video is alive,” Loew continued. “This is a unique opportunity for retailers to offset the impersonalization of an automated gift experience with the ultimate in personalization — which is putting your face on a video.”
The concept seems so simple, yet over all the retail innovations and technology overhauls the industry has made, the concept of gift-giving seemed to be overlooked, Loew said, which he remarked was shocking — and consequently the inspiration for Vift.
Of course, adding video to personalize services is nothing new, but what provides Vift’s merchant partners with the added value is the underlining patented technology called FutureSend, which is hyper-focused on making sure the delivery of the gift and the video message are synced.
“People have tried to personalize transactions online using video, but the real differentiation point here — and I think this is why we’ve almost got this universal buy-in — is the way we’ve automated it, so you don’t have to think about when the person is getting the gift. We do that through our proprietary system tracking package deliveries,” Loew said.
For their merchant partners, Vift offers multiple options to adding the video messaging to the checkout page. In some cases, they are working with eCommerce platforms to provide them with a simple plugin. With some retailers, they have the option to offer customers video messages during checkout as an add-on (just like a gift-wrapping box). There’s also a licensing option that allows retailers to pay for a certain amount of video messages that can be distributed to customers when they select gift as an option at checkout.
It’s as simple as a buy button, but for gift-giving. While most retailers are focused on reinventing themselves with new technology, Vift is attempting to help retailers reinvent the concept of gift-giving. Except in this case, Vift does all the work.
An example of a major retail parter where personalization matters is Mothers Lounge, a retailer and distributor that creates and sells baby products. This partnership was Vift’s most recent one and was just announced last week (Aug. 20), marking Vift’s first major brand partnership. But Loew said the company expects to announce more major retailers in the fall.
“There’s an emotional component to what we’re offering. And new mothers and the whole experience around a baby being born is a important one and a memorable one. Mothers Lounge caters around people who want to give gifts to new moms. What could be better than an emotional gift coming along with an emotional video,” he said. “What better way to showcase our highly sentimental and personalized tool then to do it with surrounding new moms.”
Because, even in retail — especially as more people turn online and less to physical stores — consumers are still looking for personalized retail experiences and personalized gift-giving experiences. They just have to know there are retailers able and willing to provide that little extra something at checkout.
And that’s how Vift wants to reinvent how eCommerce gift-giving is done.