About Monika Kochhar

Monika Kochhar is the co-founder of Smartgift, a gifting platform that is working to solve the complexity of shopping for others.

About Smartgift

Consumer brands use Smartgift's platform to let gift recipients customize their gifts or swap them for other gifts of their choice from comparably priced recommendations. Gift senders pay for the item after the recipient has made their pick.

A deeper look into the "Science of Gifting"

  • Smartgift is taking rich qualitative and quantitative data to map out human behavior in gifting and shopping for others. By better understanding human behavior in gifting, they can make this process much easier for shoppers.
  • A function built into Smartgift called the Intelligence Swapping Mechanism learns semantically over time and maps out buying preferences such as color, fit, and size. This helps shoppers easily buy the perfect gift for an occasion for a particular person.
  • Smartgift hopes that over time analyzing gifting data will close the gap between what a gift shopper gives and what the recipient ultimately picks on their platform.

Is tech changing people or empowering people?

  • More specifically, are the way people gift or are gifting patterns affecting the way tech is created?
  • Monika mentions that ecommerce only accounts for less than 10% of all shopping which points to the fact that we are still in the early stages of online shopping and what it could be in the future. The more technology begins to evolve and grow, the more we'll see changing mindsets and the more shoppers will use ecommerce as a way to shop for themselves and others.
  • Amazon's Prime Day is an example of technology changing the way customers shop by encouraging people to shop online in large numbers for no other reason except that Amazon declared Prime Day a national holiday. Maybe the ability to purchase anything instantly has changed customers' impulse buying habits.

One area in which technology is going to change based on the user is in the end-to-end giving journey. There is going to be a deeper need to get the gift right. For too long, the receiver experience has been an afterthought in retail. Monika believes in using data mapping to build a better shopping experience that places equal emphasis on the gifter and the recipient.

Maybe the process starts with voice and ends with an augmented reality visceral experience of opening a gift. The recipient still has a choice on the physical gift after opening a digital version of the original gift sent by the gifter.

How will Aunt Brenda feel when she finds out you didn't like the polka dot sweater she picked?

  • How does the gift-giver feel in having their gift idea being replaced by the recipient. Does this diminish the satisfaction of the giver?
  • Smartgift has found that, for the gifter, the joy comes in the expression of gift-giving and also in not having the guilt of giving something less thoughtful, like a gift card.
  • Through Smartgift, happiness has been maximized on both ends of gift-giving; for the recipient and the sender.
  • As long as gift-givers are allowed to express themselves thoughtfully in gifting, they are still happy if the recipient decides on something different.

Is there room for personalization within smart giving?

  • Gifters have started to express personalization in gift-giving through special notes and selecting digital gift wrapping. Gifters want to participate in the delight of gift-giving digitally so that it doesn't just feel like some sort of emotionless transaction.
  • Thank you notes on the recipients side is an area of personalization that happens in smart gifting that has provided a wealth of data which helps us understand how recipients feels about a product or brand.

How Smartgift can help users give back.

  • Smartgift allows recipients the choice of sending cookies back to the gifter as a thank you gift after receiving flowers from the sender.
  • Smartgift sees an opportunity to use in-kind gifting as a way to encourage recipients to get involved with giving back where the recipient is given the option to give to a charitable cause of the sender's choice as a thank you.
  • In the future, Smartgift would like to partner with charities to make giving back more accessible to on their platform.

Our best practices around conversion rate optimization might be misguided

  • Our efforts are focused to one persona, the buyer, or the person purchasing for themselves. Smartgift is focused on a different persona, someone who is purchasing for someone else.
  • Ecommerce has evolved to create a great shopping experience and now we're at a point where we can dive deeper into the metadata and what else is happening within the shopping journey. We can now work toward answering questions such as, "Why are they shopping?" and "Are they shopping for someone else?"

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