March 22, 2012 | Sheri Hebbeln
The gift card industry has been growing tremendously over the past decade or so. According to research firm the Tower Group, it should reach $100 billion this year. But there are problems with gift cards: they’re impersonal and they’re not exactly convenient. You have to go to the store to buy one, figure out the correct mailing address, and then run to the post office to send it. Another big problem with gift cards is that we tend to forget about them for weeks or months before finally redeeming them, or worse yet they get tucked away in a drawer, never to be seen again.
With the digital age, it was only a matter of time before someone came up with a really good alternative. One that I really like is Karma Science. Lee Linden and Jen You from the Karma team came into our offices a while back to show us their new app and to talk about offering wine through their unique new service. Since that time, I’ve had an opportunity to download and explore Karma.
Karma is a “mobile social commerce app”, or to put it another way, it’s a really fun way to send someone a gift from your phone. The idea in creating Karma was to come up with an easy way to let you “capture the moment in the moment.” No more worrying about your gift card not being redeemed for months.
Here’s what I like about Karma:
Buying a gift online has become pretty predictable. Gifts are almost always arranged into standard categories like “by occasion” or “by price”. Karma adds more meaning by using verbs like thank, celebrate, surprise, inspire, indulge, pamper, congratulate, entertain, delight, or impress to help you find the perfect gift.
It Offers a Nice Selection
They’ve carefully cultivated the product selection and are working with some great partners like Barnes and Noble, Spotify, Gund, Chandon, Jonathan Adler, MOMA, Kate Spade, and Vosges Haut-Chocolat. This tells me that when I’m in a pinch, I know they’ll have gifts to suit the occasion.
This is where it gets interesting……brilliant actually. When you login to Karma, you can choose to login via Facebook, which means that they are able to tap into a treasure trove of data and deliver up gift suggestions based on that data. Better yet, they go beyond the standard profile information (like dates for birthdays and anniversaries) and conduct a semantic analysis of your newsfeed to pick up keywords like “congratulations.” They then offer suggestions based on what they find. And, to make it even more viral, your recipient can easily post on Facebook “I just received this gorgeous Napa Valley Cab from Jake.”
To send a gift, you pick from either your address book or from Facebook. Karma then sends your gift recipient a message via text. The real beauty in this is that people tend to read text messages right away, whereas with the mountains of email we all receive each day, messages can easily get lost. Your recipient then fills in shipping information so that you don’t have to fumble through your address book to find it.
The gift giver can really have fun with some of the personalization features – creating a special and unique gift message using photos, voice or video.
Imagine receiving a text message that says “Charlie has sent you a gift”. As the gift recipient, you get to actually “unwrap” your gift on your phone or desktop. You also have the opportunity to either exchange your gift for another same-priced item or donate the value of the gift to charity if it’s not just right. And don’t worry; the giver doesn’t need to know.
I love the Karma personality. The app design is clean, yet a little playful and the gift packaging is young and fresh.
If you are interested in learning more about Karma, you can visit their website to download the app (currently available for iPhone and Android phones).
And if you’re a WineDirect fulfillment customer and would like to learn about participating in Karma, please feel free to contact me or your Account Manager.