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A number of online retailers are trying to help customers decide on the best gifts to buy for friends and loved ones with 'gift finder' tools that narrow the selection and provide gift ideas. 

There are plenty of shoppers at this time of year who simply haven't a clue what to buy yet, so allowing them to search by gender, type of recipient, price range etc should be a big help. I've been trying a few to see if they are useful tools, or just a gimmick... 

The gift finder tools I have seen either take the form of an additional navigational tab or drop-down, or an interactive wizard which asks users a few questions before suggesting some gifts. There are a number of examples, but I've looked at those from M&S and John Lewis. 

M&S Christmas helper

The M&S gift finder is in the 'wizard' style, and asks users whether the gift is for a brother, wife, daughter etc: 

Gift finder 1

The helper then asks for age range and personality: 

gift finder 2

After this, four or five suggestions appear, all of which are decent ideas. However, the first three gifts I tried to buy were out of stock, which defeats the object. 

gift finder 3

John Lewis

Rather than having a wizard style gift finder, John Lewis simply has a Christmas section which contains a separate set of navigation and filtering options. Users can select gifts by recipient, a list of gift ideas and more. 

Gift finder 4

Users can then just narrow their selection using the filtering options on offer, which are comprehensive enough to produce a manageable set of results. 

gift finder 6

According to Matt Curry, Head of E-commerce at LoveHoney, this is the best approach to the gift finder: 

It's better done through self-selecting merchandising rather than getting the user to ask themselves questions. The "find the perfect gift" thing on LoveHoney is actually just a bunch of filtering options, the same as those deployed on any category page, we just decided to stick an arrow on them. 

Matt also found that creating curated gift pages based on selected criteria worked best: 

We started off just having the filtering options, but I noticed the most popular second page after someone used a filtering option was Page 2 of results, rather than a product page. Bad news. So instead I put together a series of curated gift pages, based on popularity, category suitability "gifty-ness" (i.e. was it a kit or set, what was the packaging like), customer rating, number of reviews, and price variation within category.

The screenshot below shows how popular the curated versions are over the finder. According to Matt, putting these pages together almost doubled the conversion rate and increased average order values.

Lovehoney gift finder small

Since people are looking for ideas and inspiration for gifts, the curated approach makes a lot of sense.

Graham Charlton

Published 2 December, 2010 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is the former Editor-in-Chief at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin or Google+

2565 more posts from this author

Comments (1)

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Nikki Parker

I came across this because I did a search on M&S Christmas Helper as I was curious to see other people's views on it. Nice article, thanks - and thanks Matt. Having tried M&S' last week I was very disappointed. I did a test and sent an email as if to a gift giver, asking 'me' for my clothes size. Upon receiving the email, it didn't look very convincing at all, and had that been sent to me, I would have assumed it was more likely spam than something genuinely from M&S (and ignored it). So a stumble at one of the first hurdles. However, in the interests of online testing, I put in the size - then went to the gift givers email link to see what solutions it would offer. Whilst the gift ideas were quite good, they seemed to focus a lot on nightwear, but more importantly, it only gave a handful of options for present ideas. Not great. And definitely not something I wanted to pursue any further. Pity - must have cost a fair bit for M&S and I'm not convinced of the conversion rate, compared with the potential turn off (which I experienced).

over 5 years ago

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