SmartGift: This B2B Startup Is Bringing Surprise to Online Gift-Giving

What if you could buy your grandma a sweater without picking the size? And give her the experience of opening an actual gift? That's the promise of SmartGift, a Dumbo based startup.
March 5th 2014Mar 5, 2014

Online shopping has advanced plenty but gift-giving on the web hasn’t.

What if you could buy your grandma a sweater without picking the size? And give her the experience of opening an actual gift?

That’s the promise of SmartGift, a Dumbo based startup that we first introduced you to after the most recent Brooklyn Tech Meetup. The team working with cofounder and CEO Monika Kochhar is providing brands with a platform that enables people to buy gifts for each other without much more than the recipient’s email address. With that, once a person has purchased a gift, the system does the following:

  • Emails the person to show they have the gift and shows them the personalized card from the giver.
  • Presents them with an animated, virtual unwrapping, so they see what they received to give some sense of the surprise of gift-getting.
  • Allows them to designate or change specifics like size and color.
  • Prompts them to enter their address, so the final gift can be shipped to them.
  • Automates the sending of a thank you note to the giver as well.
  • This system is especially attractive to large brands because it uses algorithms to suggest other gifts to the recipient that they might like instead. If the recipient switches, the giver won’t know unless the recipient tells them.

In fact, the recipient can even pay more if they want something better. Importantly, nearly 15 percent of them do, said cofounder Kochhar. She also said that brands find it appealing because they learn about both the giver and the recipient.

Kochhar is an expert on gifts. “A lot of my educational background was in transactional exchange. So I had studied the gifting exchange for a long time… I knew a lot about the science of gifting. So when you look at how retail went online, this amazing opportunity opened up, to inject the science of gifting.”

One way online retail has come up short, she said, is personalization. She cited women in particular as really wanting to see personalization in a gift, and ecommerce as it existed wasn’t providing the kinds of personalization people wanted, and she saw that as an opportunity.

SmartGift functions as a B2B company. You may never realize that you are using SmartGift because it’s built to mesh with a brand’s existing ecommerce infrastructure, and incorporate all of their own branding.

Because ending shopping cart abandonment is so important to the company, they stand in the way of the sale as little as possible. For example, SmartGift doesn’t make any attempt, within its framework, to get you to sign up for a site in order to make a purchase.

The company is not able to disclose its current clients at this time, but they estimated their current exposure to customers, using major ecommerce sites, to currently be in the hundreds of thousands. See the infographic at the bottom for more information on what the team has found as companies adopt SmartGift technology.

Kochhar cofounded the company with Bernd Strenitz, who previously ran a music marketing startup called Guguchu, leading it as CEO with two other cofounders to a successful exit. The company currently employs 12 people, with three of them working abroad (though one of those is moving here shortly, she said).

Strenitz said that Dumbo was the natural location for the firm, “Dumbo is a really emerging tech hub in NYC. We tend to find the crowd here very interesting and very smart.”

Read the full article here.