Using Loop’s GiftNow feature, consumers shopping for someone else at a participating retailer can send any product to any recipient using only their email address and then schedule a time for that item to be delivered, including in real time. Sizes and colors, and even the item itself, can be exchanged and then sent to an address provided by the recipient.
Trish Mosconi, EVP of Business Strategy and Development at Synchrony and Co-Founder and CEO Roy Erez told PYMNTS’ Karen Webster they believe there’s an opportunity to reinvent the category now called “gifting” into one that encompasses shopping for others.
Shopping for others, Erez said, is something that consumers do quite often – but probably don’t think of as gift shopping. Parents send homesick college kids care packages, sisters send each other clothes that they see and think they’d like (and may want to borrow later), a sister may send a new shirt to her brother to wear on that big date — all are examples of people shopping for other people, but not because it’s a holiday or their birthday.
“Shopping for others is an entirely new way of redefining ‘gifting,’” Erez said, adding that when put in the context of those use cases, the lightbulb goes off. The problem, he said, is that traditional retailers aren’t really set up to serve those consumers effectively, they’re much better prepared for consumers who are shopping for themselves.
Or buying the default gift: the gift card.
That hole in traditional retail, Mosconi said, is what made Loop Commerce such a natural fit for Synchrony: Working with Loop’s technology platform offers a unique opportunity to help Synchrony’s retail partners more quickly and easily incorporate personalized digital and in-store gifting.
Synchrony is the issuer for 98 retailers’ store cards, including some of its heaviest hitters like Gap, Amazon, Walmart and TJX.
“The ability to be able to partner with a firm that can really help us drive unique and personalized experiences, particularly around payment — we think that is critical for our success and the retail industry’s success,” Erez said.
Fixing the Pain Points
As a firm that works with major retailers, Synchrony is well-acquainted with the myriad and emerging challenges that dot the modern retail landscape, Mosconi explained — particularly when it comes to massive logistical and shipping challenges companies must address when migrating into the digital and multichannel ecosystem that consumers demand.
Those challenges can be seen in the headlines, Mosconi remarked: Even retailers like Nordstrom are curbing their generous return policies, because managing consumers who overuse them has become an expensive problem. However, digital and in-store gifting is a massive market, she said — estimated to be worth some $400 billion in sales, and growing. This opportunity is not something retailers — in an age of falling foot traffic — can afford to miss.
“There are pain points going on across the ecosystem, and when you look at all the costs associated with gifting and giving, you can see this is where those costs can get wildly out of control,” Mosconi said, noting that solving for those costly pain points sent Synchrony “looking around the landscape for a way to grow and evolve and get deeper into that market — but in a way that was creating the right digital customer experience.”
Their search brought them to Loop Commerce, which focuses not only on helping customers buy the right thing for someone else, but also bakes into its platform a system to manage the expensive frictions around checkout, customer acquisition, shipping cut-off dates, merchandise return costs and shipping costs.
“We really think it is an opportunity for us to work with our core client base of retailers to drive more and better customer experiences that transform how people shop and buy and pay for those purchases they buy for other people, including traditional gifts,” Mosconi said.
It’s the essence of the Loop Commerce mission, Erez explained, adding that since rollout, Loop’s focus has been on thoroughly resetting and redesigning the experience of shopping for others, by eliminating the obstacles that traditionally get in the way of people sending physical products to other people, like size, color preferences and shipping address.
That vision, both Erez and Mosconi said, is big, including at the intersection of shopping and credit. Their collaboration will bring about an ambitious series of offerings, Erez noted as the conversation was winding down. Realistically, the kind of change the two companies are looking for is a classic “go big or go home” kind of situation, he said.
However, “it’s not easy to transform a category,” Erez admitted.
Not easy perhaps, but necessary, because retail must begin to think about shopping in the way their customers do. They aren’t shopping online vs. offline; they aren’t shopping for a gift vs. shopping for themselves. Customers don’t have any opinions about contextual commerce at all — even though they do respond to it. Customers, Erez said, are just shopping. What they want and expect is for that experience to be smooth, fast, frictionless and easy — no matter where they’re doing it, no matter who it’s for.
Today, Loop, with its GiftNow platform, can start meeting that need, offering merchants an opportunity for “driving value.” With Synchrony and their deep reserves of data, Loop’s effort can become even more enhanced, as clear, actionable customer profiles are generated and stores get a feel for when a customer is doing some personal shopping or buying for others.
Erez and Mosconi agreed it won’t be fast work, but as the acquisition goes public today, it’s work that both sides are confident could be impactful going forward.
“I believe that we, together, can be at the forefront of actually shifting the industry,” Mosconi said.