Indigo gets Thoughtfull about new gifting brand

The retailer's internally incubated ecommerce site uses its extended product selection to help answer demand for unique gifts.

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This story appeared in the January/February issue of strategy.

Thoughtfull is an ecommerce platform for finding meaningful gifts. You wouldn’t know by looking at it that the site is run by Indigo, as there are no signs of the retailer’s branding.

Thoughtfull is similar to Kobo, says Andrea Limbardi, an 18-year veteran of Indigo and who now heads up the platform, which debuted in November. Like the e-reader service the retailer later spun out into its own company, the gifting platform is an internally incubated idea with the potential to grow in response to consumer demand. It’s also an effort to offer consumers guidance during the gift-buying journey.

“We have this paradox of choice that brings a lot of stress,” says Limbardi. “Sometimes [brands] will help solve it during typical gifting holidays, but there’s no one solving for ‘non-calendar’ occasions. Our products are hand curated, which gets you to something unique without scrolling through thousands of search results.”

The focal point of Thoughtfull’s website is the gifting assistant, where users enter information about a recipient to receive a personalized gift list and related articles. Shoppers can browse through a traditional ecommerce interface, but even there, products are grouped into categories like “foodie,” “self-care” and “creativity.”

Some of the products are not available through Indigo, such as wine and cannabis-related products, as well as subscription boxes and experiences like cooking classes and spa treatments – it’s an opportunity for Indigo to test out new categories. Most of the products, though, are also found in Indigo’s assortment, which it has diversified with home, fashion and tech products in recent years to compete with ecommerce brands.

Limbardi says even offering existing products through a platform tailored to gifting represents a new strategic opportunity. Consumer research revealed gifting is a year-round opportunity, as it includes holidays, but also birthdays, anniversaries, housewarmings and gifts “just because.”

Limbardi adds that Thoughtfull will also naturally feed insights back into Indigo and will help to unveil new trends and identify in-demand products.