Whether we've liked it or not, we’ve entered the era of video chatting your loved ones and strategic shopping trips. Fresh gifts, whether they taste good or smell and look nice, strike that perfect balance between boosting a friend’s morale and avoiding longer-term living space takeover (though if ordering a box of chocolate dipped fruit entirely for yourself sounds like the definition of self-care, by all means!). In the online retail space, there’s also a balance to consider when making browsing and sending gifts.

What exactly makes shopping online for gifts different?

  1. Volume: Whether they’re representing a company that’s looking to show their vendors appreciation or sending a trademark item to families around the holidays, a gift shopper may be ordering dozens of units of product at a time.
  2. Active Browsing: A gift shopper will generally have an idea of the type of product they want to purchase (that’s why they’ve found themselves on their site), but may need to take extra time to choose between the variants you have on offer.
  3. Time-Sensitivity: Last-minute shoppers aside, gift shoppers, particularly those with less shelf-stability, want the assurance that the product that they’re receiving is going to show up when it’s meant to — whether it’s food, flowers, or holiday decor they want to put up as soon as their Thanksgiving turkey clears the table.

Each of these concerns warrants your consideration if you’re trying to craft a user experience that reduces the friction of whittling down a holiday hit list as painlessly as possible. 

Handling Volume

If you’re hoping to buy gifts from the same website for multiple people, the standard checkout flow of specifying a shipping address for the order’s recipient starts to become really brittle. Certainly, a shopper can keep a tab open for each product they hope to purchase or make use of a “Save For Later” list mercifully provided by the store. But once it comes time to check out, they don’t have much of a choice but complete the process of entering or confirming their billing information for each and every recipient and blow up their email inboxes with receipts. This is where a multi-ship checkout (where recipients and their information can be assigned to individual order items) can really shine. 

When shopping on Harry and David’s online platform, each respective gift basket that has been added to the cart has its own container in the shipping stage of checkout that walks users  product-by-product through the process of specifying who is receiving a basket, when, and if they’re receiving a message with it. 


Shipping information interface that forces sequential entering of dataHarry and David shipping information interface.

While perhaps a little heavy-handed, this flow is a lot more merciful than allowing the user to skip around a long list of items and risk having to hunt for the field that’s incomplete when they can’t move ahead with their purchase.

Facilitating Active Browsing

Just by offering shoppers the opportunity to proceed through one checkout for all of their gift shopping, a store immediately adds the feature of crafting an ersatz shopping list — using the cart as a list of possibilities — for free. Items can be added for consideration and either removed or organized further by recipient in the cart or first stage of checkout. 


Fairytale Brownies keeping multiple address specifications under a single product grouping

Fairytale Brownies allows for the addition of additional recipients for a specific gift set in the first stage of checkout to facilitate coverage of one’s entire gift list.

Getting It There On Time

One of the lessons this particular era of shopping online has taught us is that shipping speed doesn’t mean a thing if what you’ve ordered doesn’t leave the warehouse when you want it to. And when shoppers want their orders to show up on their recipient’s doorstep on a very particular day, expectations need to be communicated as clearly as possible. One of the easiest ways to help a shopper conceptualize this is by using an annotated calendar that gives them a clear view of their shipping options, as well as the level of fidelity to their desired arrival date they can expect.


Wine Country Gift Baskets showing shipping options tied to arrival date on a calendarWine Country Gift Baskets lets shoppers know exactly what shipping option they should be considering if they’re invested in a very specific arrival date.

Establishing multi-ship on an eCommerce platform, admittedly, adds some complication to the checkout process. But if a substantial segment of your customers is buying for multiple people at once, that time spent streamlining for their convenience will make for much swifter conversions — and keep you at the top of their list for their next blitz of gift ordering.