Republished here on: 27 December 2011
Link to the original article in Times of India here
The festive season in December has a unique charm. It’s not only Christmas but also the turn of a new year. Like all such joyful occasions, it’s a season of giving; an opportunity to renew and reinforce bonds, of family, friendship or togetherness. It’s also the time to surprise our loved ones with gifts. But not all of us have the luxury of time and convenience to wind through choked traffic, and trawl crowded markets and malls in search of the perfect present. Cyberspace is a good alternative enabling us to sit in the comforts of your home, and sift through products, review prices and specifications. Gifting online is hassle free. Go to one of the websites, like Woohoo and pick up the favourite card of the desired denomination, enter the shipping address and pay. Websites allow sorting gifts by category, occasion or price. The gift card can also be electronically sent by email. The recipient can redeem the card at the outlet physically or shop online and get the gift couriered. Buyers can customize and add personal messages. These cards have validity period of 3 to 12 months giving recipients liberty to wait to get their gift of choice. May be nothing like personally visiting a friend to give a gift, but given the fact that not all our loved ones are nearby, digital gift cards are fast becoming popular. Online malls have been proliferating as shoppers feel there is more variety in terms of categories, products and prices online. Some of them are: Indiatimes, Ebay, Naaptol, Myntra, Futurebazaar, Tradus, Homeshop18, Indiaplaza; the list goes on. There are also category-specific malls like Flipkart for books or Seventymm for movies. When our loved ones are far away, often our plans to present them a gift remains just an idea, given the hard logistics involved in picking up a gift, getting it packed, and couriered. Digital gift cards, which are popular abroad, are now fast catching on here. One, it gives you the advantages of online shopping; two, it’s easy and quick; and three, it gives the recipient the choice to get himself or herself something that he or she really loves.
It’s my best friend’s son’s birthday .The good part is that I remembered and the bad part is that I am meeting them in five minutes. Absolutely no time to buy a gift ofcourse. I rummage my son’s cupboard for any unopened gifts, but he is now smart enough remove the packaging as soon as he gets a gift. As I am about to give up the search, disappointed at having lost an opportunity to brighten up the 7 year olds special day a little more, I remember that we do have a couple of Landmark gift cards at home. Just as I dig out one, the bell rings announcing their arrival and I sure am mighty pleased with myself. I open the door, wish him and give him the card with a “you can buy whatever you like”. The card is very colorful and I expect him to be mighty pleased (How foolish can I be!!!), but am a little disappointed to see that he is not particularly pleased or excited. The card is soon forgotten as my friend and I get busy with our gupshup leaving the kids to entertain themselves. A few weeks pass before I ask my friend if they had used the card. And then the story unfolds… Sourish (that’s our protagonists name) kept the card on his desk for almost a week, before popping the first card related query to his mother. Simple and basic. Sourish: “What is this?” Mother:”It’s a gift card” Sourish:” What should I do with this?” Mother:”You can choose a gift for yourself from Landmark” Silence …. A week later… Sourish:”Amma, can I buy anything I want with my card?” Mother:”Yes, anything for Rs. 500” Sourish:”Even a toy and a book?” Mother:”Yes, whatever you wish” Sourish:”That means you can’t stop me from buying something because it’s my card?” Now it’s the mother turn to be silent. A week later … Sourish:”From where can I buy my gift?” Mother:”From any Landmark” Sourish:”even Jubilee hills landmark?” Mother:”yes” Sourish:”I can even buy from Chennai when we go for summer holidays?” Mother:”yes” Silence… A week later Sourish:”Lets go and buy my gift” After spending a couple of hours at Somajiguda Landmark and working out various permutations and combinations with toys, gifts and crayons (ofcourse mother had to help with the arithmetic), Sourish decides he would want to check out the jubilee hills Landmark too before buying. A week later, @Landmark-Jubilee hills Sourish:”Amma, I think the other Landmark was better” This is not the end of the story. For all you know Sourish has visited the Chennai store too and still hasn’t found the best deal…but as my friend(exasperated ,as can be expected☺) shared this story to me ,I was so glad that I had given him one of the best gifts –the gift of the choice. He probably didn’t want to redeem the card because he cherished the power of choice that it gave him over anything else that it could buy him. Deep inside, that’s what all of us want- the power to choose. – Uma Menon