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Amazon Lets Customers Ship Gifts with Just a Phone Number

Amazon is launching a new gifting feature that allows subscribers to its Prime service to send gifts to others using only an email address or phone number, without any address required. 

Now, you won’t have to worry about spoiling the surprise by asking someone for their house number and ZIP code (t’s happened to the best of us). With any eligible products in your cart, you can choose “Add a gift receipt for easy returns” and proceed to checkout. Then, when choosing a delivery address, Prime members will see an option to “Let the recipient provide their address.”

At this point the gift-giver’s card isn’t charged, but a hold is put on their payment card for the amount of the purchase.

The recipient will receive a text or email that there’s a present from someone waiting for them. The recipient then has to have an Amazon account to accept the gift, but only the giver has to be a Prime member.

The recipient can click on the notice from Amazon to reveal what the gift-giver sent, then she can decide whether to decline the gift, accept the gift but convert it to an Amazon gift card—the gift giver won’t be notified — or, they can just accept the gift. If the recipient accepts the gift, the giver’s payment card is charged.

Either way, Amazon gets to cash out. 

But as The Verge points out, this is hardly a foolproof method for preventing harassment. The idea of getting a gift from someone who doesn’t have your address is problematic, especially if there’s a good reason that the recipient’s address isn’t known to the gift-giver. If someone spams your phone or your inbox with multiple gift alerts, that could become a serious problem. 

Nevertheless, the feature could potentially be very helpful. 

Best Buy Expands TotalTech Program Nationwide

Best Buy is expanding its tech-support membership program nationwide, offering subscribers services like free installations and discounts on repairs as the retailer continues their journey into offering more than just gadgets. 

The Best Buy Totaltech program gives members access to a plethora of perks, including Geek Squad support at any time, up to two years of product protection for most Best Buy purchases, member’s only prices, free delivery and standard installation. They can also access Member Monday, an event series offering members exclusive tech deals.

The Totaltech program, which costs $199.99 annually, will also provide members exclusive access to scarce tech goods during the holidays. 

Since the pandemi (and of course the rise of Amazon), Best Buy has been looking for ways to branch out of just selling gadgets. So logically, the retailer is looking to generate more sales from services.  Subscription services, pioneered by Amazon, are an important part of retailers’ efforts to lock in customers with perks like free and expedited shipping and other benefits. 

Originally, Best Buy offered its pilot program, called Best Buy Beta, at about 90 of its 900 U.S. stores. Members of that program will transition seamlessly into Best Buy Totaltech, as will customers in the company’s “Total Tech Support” and “Geek Squad Tech Support” plans. That’s a lot of plans. In order for the company to get their services to stick, they should continue to consolidate their services. 

Earlier this year, The Wall Street Journal reported that Best Buy cut jobs and working hours for some workers to ease their pivot to eCommerce. In Q2, its U.S. revenue increased by 20.6% from last year, but its online revenue dropped by 28.1%. eCommerce as a percentage of revenue declined to about 31.7% compared to 53.1% in 2020.

Target Partners with Sezzle and Affirm for BNPL Program

Target has become the most recent retailer to offer shoppers a “buy now, pay later” (BNPL) option ahead of the holiday shopping season. Popular FinTech company Sezzle has landed a three-year deal to provide its interest-free installment product to Target customers. 

Under the agreement, Sezzle’s product will be used in-store and across Target’s digital platforms, allowing customers the option to use interest-free payment plans for purchases made at Target. 

Each purchase will be split into four interest-free payments over six weeks, without those pesky fees… as long as the balance is paid on time. Shoppers will first have to apply and be approved with Sezzle. After that, they can shop at Target.com or via the Target app and use the Sezzle Virtual Card as the payment method at checkout. 

Target has also partnered with BNPL company Affirm, to allow shoppers to, as they put it,  “take advantage of our best deals, and pay at a pace that works well for you. It’s a handy option during the busy holiday season and all year long.”

Affirm can be used for purchases over $100. It allows customers to pay at their own pace with monthly payments and does not charge late fees. 

These payment options come at a crucial time when holidays are approaching, and many are struggling due to the pandemic’s job purging. The BNPL options allow for anyone to shop for what they need, but these programs can also come back to bite as we’ve noted before.