Gift Cards Are Paying Off for Store Owners this Holiday Season

Holiday season is gift card season. Consumer purchases made through gift cards during the holidays reached $29.8 billion in 2013, a feat that industry analysts expect to repeat this year. People will be buying gift cards for friends and family--everything from gym memberships and restaurant meals to home decor and luxury items.

Gift cards and other types of prepaid deals create a potential market that businesses of all sizes can explore. These items combine versatility with convenience, a powerful mix for today's quick-paced and increasingly mobile consumers.

An appealing gift across all demos

According to MarketWatch, getting a gift card instead of a specific item makes sense to millennials, especially if it comes from a favorite store. It gives them greater choices and prevents the hassle of returning unusable gifts. Mobile gift cards that they can present using their smartphones also appeal to this generation.

At the other end of the spectrum, Baby Boomers and the earlier generations also make use of gift cards so they won't have to worry about keeping track of pocket money when buying groceries or doing errands. Gift cards also protect funds. When you lose it, you can easily call customer service and cancel.

"It has become a mass market product," financial analyst Madeline Aufeeser said in a report by Forbes.

Businesses need to adapt to this new retail reality not only through a savvy marketing push, but also by moving away from an analog gift card selling and validation system and integrating it into the rest of your processes.

Whether you print out an actual card or send digital gift cards directly to customers, retailers need to develop a game plan to be able to maximize the value of a gift card program.

  • Put customer convenience first 

    Make your gift cards both easy to buy and easy to use. Gift givers may want the ability to buy gift cards from either a brick-and-mortar store or from a website. Recipients may want to recharge their gift cards using their own money after they've spent the original amount. They may also want to pay part of a big ticket item with a gift card while paying the rest of the amount through other means.

    Having a powerful customer relationship management solution that accommodates these needs is necessary to facilitate your program.

  • Cross-platform is the only way

    Have you ever experienced getting a gift card that is only valid in one location, but trying to get there is such a hassle that you choose not to use your gift card at all? Gift card programs are designed forge brand affinity, and such restrictions prevent that kind of loyalty from forming.

    Connected Business provides an automated gift card creation and activation feature that integrates to all of your selling channels, making them verifiable and usable in whatever platform your customers choose. You can issue a gift card and validate it at a different branch or even at your webstore, as long as your locations are integrated through Connected Business.

  • Diversify your offerings

    Making your promotional products more diverse connects to the idea of customer convenience. Aside from gift cards, Connected Business makes it possible to issue gift certificates and coupons as well. GCs and coupons are single-use products that your customers can buy digitally and do not require an associated name or email address the way a gift card does.

    At Connected Business, you can create these products using the same process as gift cards.

  • Make the marketing push year-round

    The subsequent months after Christmas are the ideal time to entice the people who received gift cards to cash in. Make sure to replenish your stock with high value items during at the beginning of the year and going into the spring months.

    By making your gift card and gift certificate programs fully automated, you can continue to convert gift cards into buyers--and possibly repeat customers--even beyond the holidays.

Connected Business makes it easy to implement a gift card system for your business with minimal investment in both time and costs. Watch this video and find out how easy it is to introduce more value into your retail offerings.



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