December 16, 2010, 1:21 PM

A new day dawns for last-minute digital gift card buyers

CashStar and merchants create a niche with the launch of Click It to Gift It.

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Some Internet retailers started the holiday shopping season earlier than ever this year with deep discounting and free shipping offers.

Now a group of up to 50 retailers are participating in a new marketing program—Click It to Gift It Day—on Dec. 23 in an effort to extend the Christmas shopping season and drive digital gift card sales among last-minute procrastinators.

Click It to Gift It Day is set up for merchants whose online gift card program are operated by CashStar Inc., a digital gifting and incentives company. The merchants participating thus far in CashStar’s Click It to Gift It Day include well-known brands such as Williams-Sonoma Inc., No. 26 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, The Children’s Place Retail Stores Inc., No. 123, Gap Inc., No. 23, Home Depot Inc., No. 39, and Dell Inc., No. 3, and Staples Inc., No. 2..

Through personalized e-mail campaigns or links on their web sites, retailers can send last-minute gift card shoppers to a dedicated site—ClickItToGiftIt.com—where consumers can click on the merchant’s icon and purchase a digital gift card in amounts from $25 to $500. Along with the gift card, which can be sent by the giver to the recipient’s e-mail address or Facebook page, gift card shoppers can also personalize the message with videos, photos and gift card background templates.

CashStar, which built the ClickItToGiftIt.com site, handles the message and gift card delivery on behalf of the participating merchant.

“The notion of creating a cyber gift card day date beyond the last available conventional shipping date is catching on with merchants,” says CashStar CEO David Stone.

CashStar isn’t releasing traffic figures or sales projections for Click It to Gift It Day, but “traffic and buzz are building,” says Stone. To generate interest in Click It to Gift It Day several merchants are using social media and contests to drive traffic. Recently on the Click It to Gift It Day Facebook page, Hot Topic had a contest to win a $500 gift card, and on Dec. 21 Home Depot will stage a contest for the chance to win a $1,000 gift card.

Click It to Gift It Day is modeled after the success of the Monday after the Thanksgiving weekend, also known as Cyber Monday, which this year set a record of more than $1 billion in online sales, according to web measurement firm comScore Inc.

However, one retail industry analyst doesn’t see Click It to Gift It Day becoming a mainstream holiday shopping day such as Cyber Monday or the Friday after Thanksgiving, also known as Black Friday. But as the competition among all types of web retailers for holiday shoppers increases, and discounting and the Christmas shopping season begins earlier and runs later, retailers need to look for new opportunities to sell, says Paula Rosenblum, managing partner of research and advisory firm Retail Systems Research LLC.

“I don’t see this becoming the next Black Friday, but this program is one more way for merchants to extend the season,” says Rosenblum. “It becomes another piece of the marketing puzzle.”

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