Retail

Gift Concierges Unwrap Custom Shopping Experiences

Gifting

The holidays can be a headache when it comes to gift giving, and retailers are looking to make it easier for parents or relatives to find the perfect gift for a son, daughter, niece or nephew. Services such as Little LAMMA aim to be a one-stop shop for these parents and relatives, while offering the kind of high-level service that customers might associate with a neighborhood boutique. “We’re trying to capture that old-fashioned service and marry that with technology,” Little LAMMA Co-Founder Nina Tooley told PYMNTS.com in an interview.

To use the service, shoppers fill out a brief questionnaire on the company’s website. The survey asks the customer to provide information on a gift recipient such as age along with the occasion. (For instance, a shopper might say that she is looking for a birthday gift for her 5-year-old nephew.) Beyond those details, the questionnaire asks for a customer’s budget along with her email or phone number so that the concierge can get in touch. The concierge, in turn, will respond with a few gift options for the customer to peruse.

The aim with the company’s selections is to give shoppers the chance to purchase items that aren’t easily found at stores — and perhaps provide them with products that can be passed down to the next generation. At the same time, the company seeks to combine items into bundles that are organized by theme. The company has a Dinosaur Delight bundle, for instance, that comes with a dinosaur-themed books along with other items. Whether the concierge recommends an individual item or bundle, she directs customers to product pages on the company’s website.

The eCommerce Experience

If a shopper likes an item, she can buy it through the company’s eCommerce website: “You can actually purchase directly from the links,” Tooley said. From that point on, Tooley said the company offers a standard eCommerce experience. Customers can pay for items with credit card or PayPal, and their purchases can be sent anywhere in the country. Tooley also said that the company provides complimentary gift wrapping for its customers, and, in a personal touch, provides a handwritten notecard along with a purchase.

Little LAMMA takes two approaches to carrying its products: That is, the company holds inventory and can also pull inventory from another retailer to broaden its selection. But it has the majority of its products — 75 percent in Tooley’s estimation — in inventory. If a product is brought in from a partner, the item comes to the company before it is shipped out to shopper. Since the company seeks to control each touch point, however, it would put such an item on its own product page or include it on a bundle’s product page to maintain the Little LAMMA look and feel.

The Market

Little LAMMA’s core target market is busy moms and dads, and the company’s secondary target market is aunts, uncles and people who need help finding a gift for a child. “We provide the curation for them and they trust us to recommend … great products,” Tooley said. Tooley also noted that a segment of parents are millennials, and they have different expectations when it comes to shopping — they expect personal service, and they have an on-demand mentality. And, in general, Tooley said that parents are running busy lives, and they don’t always have time to think about gifts.

Tooley sees her service as a time saver: If parents have an extra hour, they shouldn’t spend it sitting in traffic to the toy store. Instead, they can use the time saved to spend with their kids. Parents who turn to eCommerce sites to shop for gifts for their children, however, can be faced with a thousand different options, Tooley said — and that selection can be overwhelming if shoppers aren’t quite sure what to get. Tooley’s site, by contrast, seeks to narrow down the selection by providing a level of curation that consumers can’t find anywhere else.

The aim of concierge sites, then, is to do to the heavy lifting for busy parents and other adults looking for gifts for children — and provide them with an alternative experience to shopping at a brick-and-mortar store or traditional eCommerce retailer.

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