Up Your Gift Card Game in Time for the Holidays

Stored value in the form of gift cards, promotions and merchandise credit is a market that expands yearly: for gift cards alone, sales have jumped from $83 billion in 2006 to a whopping $160 billion in 2018. And we’ve all heard the stats about how stored value can add value to your bottom line, from introducing new customers to your brand and increasing traffic to your website, with some 34 percent admitting that gift cards would spur them to visit stores they otherwise wouldn’t, to the happiest stat ever: average consumer spending $59 more than the original value of the gift card.

Nine Ways to Boost Your Stored Value Strategy…

For all these upsides, not every business is promoting its stored value marketing strategy to increase sales. And, as the holiday season inches closer with gift cards being the most desired presents (not to mention merchandise credit redeemed for all those post-holiday returns!), we wanted to share some tips on how to boost your stored value purchases and usage.

  1. Make gift cards an impulse buy. The holidays mean more people in your stores (and on your sites). Having a display of gift cards at the register or in a pop-up menu at web checkout, can help increase gift card purchase by tapping into the impulse shopper in everyone. With one study finding that over $5,000 per year is spent on impulse purchases, displaying your gift cards prominently at the point of sale, either virtually or in an actual store, is a must.
  1. Create specialty-themed gift cards. Your customers give gift cards for many reasons, from holidays to birthdays to “just because.” In fact, in a given year half of consumers will give gift cards for Christmas, while 48 percent will buy them for birthdays. Offering your shoppers specialized gift cards helps to create a more personalized “gifty” feel to the experience rather than a generic piece of plastic… or an email with a redemption code.
  1. Stock, display and offer with complementary items.  If your business sells items typically thought of as gifts, such as flowers or greeting cards, a prominent display of gift cards (or a suggestion of gift cards if shopping online) can earn your business cross-selling sales as well as helping your customers to avoid having to shop somewhere else for the purchase that will complete their gift.
  1. Buy some now, buy more later. Another marketing technique is the buy now, buy again later strategy, where a shopper is rewarded by reaching a certain point in purchases with a store credit to come back another day. This approach is two-fold marketing gold: you incentivize shoppers to spend just a little more to hit the next tier to get more store credit to use later, tapping into the 74 percent who spend over the gift card amount when they return to use it later. It’s really the stuff of genius.
  1. One for them…and a little something for me. How many of us have purchased a little something for ourselves while out shopping for others? Especially during holiday gifting, many brands offer a little incentive for the gift card gifter, offering a small incentive such as a $5 or $10 promotional card as a reward for the generosity.
  1. Sell + accept both plastic and virtual e-gift cards. While customers purchase more actual in-hand gift cards than digital cards, e-gift cards are growing in popularity. More than half of consumers prefer digital gift cards that can be loaded onto an app, eliminating the plastic card of old altogether. Going this route helps to save the brand the cost of printing a card while it promotes its website and app channel functionalities – a win-win!
  1. Gift card giveaway promotions. Many businesses have turned to social media to offer gift card giveaways to promote their brands. In addition to the inherent fun of getting something for nothing, a monthly giveaway of multiple gift cards for nominal amounts (for example, 3-$50 gift cards) it can be used to draw followers to your social media accounts, gaining recognition and goodwill for your brand. In addition, about a third of entrants will agree to accept information from your brand and partners, giving you an easy in to market to consumers who already know your brand and like the way you do business.
  1. Incentivize store credit over straight refund. With an estimated 13 percent of all holiday purchases being returned each year, any strategy to offset the loss should be explored. Giving customers an incentive to receive their refund in the form of store credit rather than a refund will capitalize on the likelihood of customers to overspend that value. So giving away a $5 promotional value will likely result in two benefits for your business: recouping potentially lost revenue from the return plus revenue far exceeding the promotional value, translating into some serious ROI.
  1. Give credit where credit is due. What better way to reward a loyal customer who repeatedly shops in your store than a store credit to use on his or her next visit? This reward is like found money, working to reinforce your customers’ loyalty, all while getting them back to your store to spend the reward… and more.

Stored value programs are here to stay, and, accounting for 2 percent of eCommerce and 1 percent of global point of sale, purchases made with stored value card are estimated to top $260 Billion in 2019. The smart marketer will look for ways to tap into the incredible potential of profits (again: $59 overspend!) and brand-building, and not be left watching on the sidelines.

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