Postal’s delivery times are well and truly over, and the window of time for a last-minute gift race is about to close. Add the increase in Covid-19 cases to the mix, and a rushed trip to the mall on December 24 looks a lot like a panic buy.
While the search for digital gifts is something we often ‘don’t consider’ due to the ‘tradition of having something physically wrapped up’, Queensland University of Technology professor of consumer behavior Gary Mortimer , states that the pool of virtual gift options has deepened considerably.
“Being able to sit quietly one evening and browse a whole range of gifts and virtual experiences for loved ones certainly alleviates the stress of having to grapple with busy malls,” he says.
Offer your virtual product
“I actually give a lot of virtual gifts to my friends and family,” says Yulia Saf, blogger behind Miss Tourist, who spends a lot of her time traveling.
“I don’t think that sounds like a last minute, ‘I-don’t-have-time-to-buy-you-a-real-gift’ gift.”
She says it’s “really important” to consider what the person likes. Then it is a matter of searching the web for “virtual gifts by interest”.
Once you find something that works, it’s easy to offer it digitally.
How to gift an app on your phone
Most smartphones have an app store preinstalled, and although most people use the store to download purchases on their own devices, you can also buy an app as a gift for someone else through them. Here’s how.
On an Apple iOS device, like an iPhone or iPad, start by browsing the store to find the app you want to gift. Once you’ve found what you want, tap on the app to go to its details page.
There you should see a rectangle with an arrow pointing up; this is the action button.
Tap on it and scroll down the context menu until you see the option “Gift App” and then select it.
From there, follow the directions for sending the app as a gift, which will involve entering contact details and a message for your recipient, setting a delivery date, and choosing a visual theme for your gift presentation.
If you are an Android user, Google Play does not offer the same gift service. But don’t worry, there is a workaround.
In the Google Play Store app, press the Menu button.
From there, select “Send a gift”. Google Play allows you to offer credit for an app, rather than offering an individual app on its own. You will be able to enter the amount you wish to offer and follow the on-screen instructions to deliver this credit to your recipient.
How to gift a subscription or experience
From Netflix to Spotify, Audible, and Amazon Prime, there are plenty of online streaming services and subscriptions that can be gifted.
For the most part, you can find a dedicated giveaways page integrated into a streaming product’s website.
But before you buy, digital marketer and ecommerce expert Andrew Zeng urges you to “read the fine print.”
“Many platforms will only allow you to offer a subscription to new users,” he says. The one-year Disney + gift subscription, for example, cannot be added to a recipient’s existing subscription.
Other services “make it possible to offer additional months to pre-existing users”. Just be sure to check the terms of the gift before placing your order.
Mortimer also suggests browsing virtual travel experiences.
“As a result of the pandemic, we have seen a lot of travel agencies doing virtual site tours,” he says. “Jordan, Petra, all the places you’d like to go but can’t. “
Airbnb offers virtual experiences, from trip planning sessions to famous movie set tours; Closer to home, the Indigenous travel site Welcome to Country also offers digital travel sessions.
Zeng’s favorite digital gift is the gift of an online course.
“A friend of mine recently offered me a subscription to an online course in photography and branding, as I continue to grow my business,” he says. “I found him extremely thoughtful and endearing.”
Make it special
You’re not limited to sending your gift to the recipient in a trivial email with a link and an activation code. Saf says there are many ways to make the gift more fun.
A simple option that will personalize the giveaway is a video.
“Just record a short video of yourself with a personal message,” Zeng suggests. “As if you had to give the gift in person. “
Saf also says that using video can be a useful way to teach a low tech recipient how to activate their virtual gift. She recommends using Video Loom, which supports recording your screen and face simultaneously.
For those who are shy in front of the camera, Zeng suggests associating your virtual gift with an electronic card.
Easy to find online for free, some e-card sites offer digital versions of classic printed cards, with original quotes and designs that you would choose from the local news agency. Others offer animated video cards. Both are a ribbon on top of your virtual gift that you can download into an email and instantly send to the recipient.
Finally, beyond apps, subscriptions, vouchers and electronic cards, Zeng recommends offering personalized digital art.
“You can use a marketplace like Etsy, find an artist, and have them hand draw a self-portrait or something big,” he says. “It’s all about personalization when it comes to virtual gifts, which makes them very special. “