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6 May 2020

The customer-centric world we now live in

We now live in a time where it is no longer a option not to offer customers options in how they buy from you. Even before Covid-19 hit, consumers had ever-growing visibility of their options and were increasingly abandoning purchasing journeys if they cannot quickly find what they want, or make the transaction easily. We call this the Amazon affect.

The progress seen over the last five to ten years has been seismic, but for many business owners and senior executives, whilst their own company sales capability has improved they have had to watch the whole industry around them get more sophisticated and seamless. So it presents a challenge to remain competitive without the right technologies and systems in place.

Of course this year, with the introduction of a global pandemic, e-commerce and e-gifting has become even more important for businesses across the globe, and brands that had put their digital transformations and retail projects on hold are sadly getting left behind.

In this article we look to review the current climate, and what companies can do NOW, to enable and open up new revenue streams to survive and grow as the global economy enters a new (and potentially for more digital) normal.

Let’s start by looking at the UK ecommerce and gift card market in a bit more detail.

National Book Tokens


The UK ecommerce and gift card market

The UK ecommerce and gift card market has seen incredible continued growth over the years and this will now continue at even more rapid pace, as more companies and brands are forced to take their sales online to survive.

Ecommerce market

The UK is the world’s third largest ecommerce market behind China and the US, accounting for $101bn in 2019. It is also predicted that ecommerce’s share of chain retail will continue to rapidly increase in the UK, expanding from 21% in 2019 to 26% in 2024.  Analysts have identified three key planning factors for retailers in 2020:

  • Speed of fulfilment will become a competitive battlefield for retailers – as the consumer demand for speed and convenience continues to grow
  • Brexit will disrupt cross-border trade and regulatory alignment – retailers and brands must be prepared to face short-term disruption from potential trade tariffs, border delays and currency volatility
  • Further blurring of physical stores and online touchpoints – there will be more shifts towards omnichannel shopping, particularly in grocery, as food retailers recognise its huge growth potential.

Source: Edge by Ascential

Gift card and voucher market

2019 data shows that the UK’s gift card and voucher market grew by 7.2% year-on-year while the analysis recorded a healthy 15.6% growth in business-to-business sales, which includes gift cards issued via an employer’s reward programme.

Despite challenging trading conditions in 2019, gift card and voucher sales in the UK continues to grow with the market increasing by 7.2% year-on-year. Business-to-consumer (B2C) gift cards remain the main driver of sales, accounting for two-thirds of the market.

Gift card and voucher sales in the UK continues to grow with the market, increasing by 7.2% year-on-year.

The analysis also found that retail remains the most important sector within the gift card industry, with retail sales making up 67% of the overall market. There was also a strong improvement in the leisure industry with 13% year-on-year growth.

There has been a huge growth in digital and e-vouchers. Although a preference for physical gift cards continues – taking 72.5% of the market share – digital and e-vouchers are proving increasingly popular, now accounting for 26.9% of sales (up from 12% in 2018).

Source: UK Gift Card & Voucher Association (UKCGVA) and KPMG UK




Making the right choices

Despite the many positive examples in the market, there are still many variables to choose from, and because of this there are often more wrong solutions to choose, than right ones. The questions for CEOs and CTOs remain the same: Who to listen to? What to do? Who to appoint? Who to lead? And who to rely on?

Customer centricity has long been at the heart of many company strategies for a while, and the fruits are positively showing in many industries, but we still see many questionable decisions when it comes to choosing what functionality to develop, how to structure and deliver the project and who to get to do it.

The e-commerce options you have available to you

Many of us have some hard-to-forget scars from previous digital projects. The words ‘digital project’ have previously meant ‘lengthy and complicated’, but it doesn’t have to be that way and it is now easier than ever to create the functionality you need.

In the current market brands are having to react quickly, as a small and agile technical consultancy we can help brands do this and here is our view on what can be achieved within a short space of time.

eCommerce site options and timeline

Whilst we would always understand your requirements before suggesting a solution, in broad terms your options for an ecommerce site are as below.


Entry Level:

Website with shop

  • Bespoke look & feel, content pages, social widgets, CMS
  • Shop with one size fits all Product DB, multiple categories / sub-categories / fixed postage costs
  • Credit Card Payment options: SagePay with PayPal or Stripe
  • Simplified Order Management System

Project time: Up to 10 days

Mid Level:

More advanced

  • Google Captcha
  • Returning Customer Functionality
  • Persistent cart
  • Integrated order cancel and refund
  • PayPal / Apple Pay
  • Variable Postage Costing Matrix (managed by store owner)
  • Customer Order Track and Trace

Project time: 10 - 15 days

Advanced Level:

Website with shop

  • Fully bespoke service (scope/spec, process mapping and design, creative brief, UX Design and test & custom product database architectures)
  • Advanced stock, order and fulfilment management processes and tools
  • Advanced fraud controls and management
  • Content Management
  • eCRM Systems integration - Fulfilment Houses / Couriers / Stock Order

Project time: 15+ days

We are helping brands, retailers and leisure companies develop ecommerce, enabling them to keep their businesses alive during Covid-19 in just a matter of weeks!

So in a matter of weeks you can have game changing digital functionality in place for your customers.


eGift card sites

When it comes to enabling gifting, there are once again a myriad of options. We have taken the time to lay these out for you so you can choose the right solution for your business.

Having e-gifting solutions in place has meant that clients of ours, like Theatre Tokens, have been able to still have a revenue stream, and sell tokens in a world which would have meant they had no way to sell to their customers at all.


Entry Level:

eGift Card Site

  • Bespoke Look & Feel, content pages, social widgets, CMS
  • Option to purchase eGift with personalised message
  • Credit Card Payment options: SagePay with PayPal or Stripe
  • automated eGift send
  • Simplified Order Management / Manual Redemption (for example buy and pay online, hand over as a credit note in-store)

Project time: Up to 10 days

Mid Level:

More advanced

  • Multiple Designs
  • Google Captcha
  • Returning Customer functionality
  • Persistent cart
  • Delayed delivery i.e. send out on this date
  • Upgraded order management including cancellation / refund and redemption tracking (i.e. take off amount redeemed to keep track of spend)
  • Reporting subject to spec

Project time: 10 - 15 days

Advanced Level:

Gifting Solution Selling

  • Fully bespoke service (scope/spec, process mapping and design, creative brief, UX Design and test, support physical and digital gift vouchers)
  • Dynamic code generation / integration with processors
  • Support of multiple designs and denominations
  • Ability to include merchandise and personalised greeting cards
  • Personalised gift cards (upload of image / test) via integration with printers / fulfilment
  • Advanced fraud prevention and tracking tools

Project time: 15+ days

Advanced Level:

Gifting Solution Redemption

  • Fully bespoke service (scope/spec, process mapping and design, redemption portals for in-person, web service based API in basket redemption)
  • Management tools / reporting



Project time: 15+ days

The importance of an open channel

There are always reasons to delay or not invest in improving your digital capability. Whether these are financial, practical or through a hierarchy of prioritisation.

It is fair to say that those that have invested in an open digital purchase channel have been given a lifeline during the COVID-19 crisis - and once this channel is open, it remains open. It encourages incremental sales and provides a new, valuable revenue stream.

It is fair to say that those that have invested in an open digital purchase channel have been given a lifeline during the COVID-19 crisis.

Working brick by brick

We can move fast to build for the short term, but we always understand where you want to get to in the future, so that we can suggest the right tech and development approach. Then we move quickly to make it happen. But everything we create can be added to and built upon.

e-Gifting in this way will continue to rise….

With restaurants, pubs and all entertainment venues closed - and spending time with friends and family prohibited - e-Gifting is now the most obvious type of gift to give. People are already starting to plan to do and have nice things in a post-COVID world. Some of these habits will continue beyond as well, especially if those given the gift are happy!

...and people rush to support the businesses they cherish

There is also an increased amount of sympathy for those running businesses during this time, and people desperately want to see the businesses they love get through to the other side. We have already seen some initiatives to give companies money by buying credit they can use in the future. These gestures of support are a natural reaction and many brands can call upon those that love them to help - if the ways to help have been created.


Our experience within eCommerce and gifting

Over the last 20 years we have built up a wealth of experience across eCommerce and gifting. We have experience of delivering everything within the ecommerce and gifting diagrams above for clients including Theatre Tokens and National Book Tokens.

We revolutionise business, with technology

Our team of specialists have the expert knowledge, agility and speed to better connect your business with your customers.

By focussing on developing innovative technical solutions, we enable more opportunities for growth for our clients and unlock new retail revenue streams that transform businesses for the better. From Ecommerce and E-gifting, to complex back-end integrations and website builds, our technical experts help define and deliver solutions quickly by removing layers of duplication and reducing complexities to drive significant cost efficiencies, and new possibilities for the clients we work with.


  • As a small team of agile tech specialists, we enable our clients to get new solutions to market quicker and realise results faster.
  • Our rapid deployment processes enable the quick release of ongoing technological updates that change the future of business.
  • Because everything we build is secure and scalable, updates and maintenance are easier and cost less, meaning you can invest in updates that will drive more value.
  • Our independence means we don’t have lots of internal layers and as a smaller out of London consultancy we provide better value for money to our clients.


Arrange a free consultation with us

If your company can benefit from having improved ecommerce or gifting functionality, or you simply want to explore if this may be the case, we are currently offering a free 1 hour consultation call (video or traditional!).

Get in touch and find out how Reuben Digital can revolutionise your business in 2021.

Reuben Digital. Be Good. Do Good.