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The Rise of Mobile Gift Cards

Mobile Gift Cards

A recent CashStar study discussing the popularity of gift cards showed a surprising number of consumers are looking for a smartphone solution to keep track of the gift cards they receive. The study looked at a diverse group of gift card givers and receivers from different demographic groups and regions across the country. What they found was that most prefer to give or receive mobile gift cards for a variety of reasons, including convenience, balance tracking, and the personalization it gives the ‘gifter’. So as gift cards remain a top gift choice for 9 years running, it’s important for merchants to note the desire consumers have for managing and storing them digitally.

Find the right reward

Gifters and Receivers

61% of online shoppers plan to purchase gift cards, of that group, 56% would like to receive gift card balances that they can store on their smartphones.

“This data reinforces the importance of delivering rich, engaging and useful experiences for both the senders and the recipients of gift cards,” said CashStar President and CEO Ben Kaplan. “Even at the last minute, digital gifting allows givers to create highly personalized gifts with photos, messages and video. People who receive gift cards – both plastic and digital – now have more options than ever for storing their card value on their smartphones in mobile wallets, and in 2016 we expect more retailers to adopt this functionality.”

Remove the Risk of Lost Value

One major draw that mobile gift cards have is that they are harder to lose or leave at home. 40% of respondents admit to losing plastic gift cards, and thus a gift. From a gifters standpoint, this also puts insurance on the value of their gift.

Demographic Breakdown

Here’s a quick breakdown of where and how mobile gift cards are gaining momentum:

  • Most interested in mobile : Residents in Western states come in on top, with 59% of respondents expressing interest in mobile gift cards.
  • Most likely to lose plastic: Northeasterners, with 49% of respondents indicating that they have lost plastic gift cards.
  • Most Mobile Ready: Unsurprisingly millennials 18-24 year olds came in on top, with 74% indicating an interest in storing gift card value on their smartphones.
  • Least interested in mobile: Only 33% of respondents 66 years and older are interested in mobile gift cards.

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Rachel Merkin is a digital marketing professional. She has been exploring the worlds of social media and B2B gift cards since 2006. When she is not blogging, tweeting, or finding ways to leverage Facebook as a marketing tool, she spends as much time at the beach as she can.

Pro-tips for Outsourcing an Incentive Program

outsourcing an incentive program

A new study from the Incentive Research FoundationEngaging Outside Program Support for Incentive and Recognition Programs, is full of ideas on how to use outside firms to optimize your incentive programs this year. There are a number of ways to go about outsourcing an incentive program, from working with gift card providers as a cost effective reward solution, to having your program fully administered by an outside firm.

Here are a few unique ways to outsource efforts, while keeping costs low and increasing your program(s) success rates:

Full Service Providers vs. Gift Card Providers

outside program supportEnd-users employ a variety of providers, from sales programs (green), to channel programs (yellow) and employee programs (red). We will focus on employee programs in this post.

A great way to be effective without breaking your budget is to employee a gift card only provider, without employing a full service program administrator.

75% of survey respondents employ gift card only providers for employee programs

75% of survey respondents employ gift card only providers for employee programs, which offer a variety of gift card options and often include a discount for bulk orders. These providers would help your HR team administer the program, without handling all of the logistical aspects of the program. Only 25% of respondents to the IRF survey utilized a full service provider for employee programs. The likely reason? The integration period and cost is significantly less with a gift card only provider while still offering the variety and impact that your employee program needs.

Find the right incentive

Ordering Online vs. Having an Account Representative

According to the 2015 Global Consumer Online Shopping Expectations report from DYN, more than 90% of consumers surveyed across 11 countries said they
make at least 25% of their purchases online. Whether it’s clothing or office supplies (or even admittedly dog food!) it’s nice to do things on your own time and on your own terms. However, when it comes to incentives for your program, it might be beneficial to order through an account manager, as 65% of the IRF respondents indicated they do. Why? Because when using outside help, the human element can save your bottom line. Account reps can help you hit discount amounts that you might not know exist. They can give you preferential pricing, or free shipping. The human element may take a few more minutes to process but it may save you money in the long run.

Do you have more pro tips? Leave us a comment and you could see it in a future blog.

Rachel Merkin is a digital marketing professional. She has been exploring the worlds of social media and B2B gift cards since 2006. When she is not blogging, tweeting, or finding ways to leverage Facebook as a marketing tool, she spends as much time at the beach as she can.

Whole Foods ‘Values Matter’ Brand Campaign

Whole Foods

2016 is looking to be a huge year for the organic foods industry. And as the world’s leader in natural and organic foods, Whole Foods Market is no exception. The organic foods giant is rethinking its business model and revamping its brand to stay competitive with a slew of new competitors.

Whole Foods ended 2015 with over $15 billion in sales, and their growing competition can likely be attributed to their own success. Whole Foods Market CEO, John Mackey recently commented,

“People are copying us…We used to beg people to write articles about us. We were just seen as a bunch of hippies selling food to other hippies. So I’m kind of very proud of the fact that Whole Foods has really changed the world, that the whole food industry has changed because of Whole Foods Market.”

Throughout 2016, the organic grocer will be implementing a nine-points plan that highlight Whole Foods values. Some of the points emphasized will be: cutting costs, innovation, and marketing & communicating the Whole Foods difference.

Add Whole Foods gift cards to your program(s)

Communicating the Whole Foods Difference

When it comes to communicating the Whole Foods brand difference, they released the Whole Foods ‘Values Matter’ national brand campaign highlighting the company’s groundbreaking quality standards, healthy offerings, and key milestones as a pioneer in the natural and organic food industry. By communicating the company’s deeper purpose and its history of celebrating food and the people who produce it, the multichannel advertising initiative demonstrates the values as “America’s Healthiest Grocery Store.”

Check out a couple of the Whole Foods ‘Values Matter’ Brand Campaign ads

 

whole foods gift cards

Interested in adding the Whole Foods Market gift card as a reward or incentive option for your program(s)? Find out how you can save on bulk orders now!

Learn More About Whole Foods Gift Cards

Jennifer DiPietro has been managing B2B gift card programs since 2010. A lover of social media, she has recently decided to get back into blogging as well as delve deeper into the world of marketing. Native to New England, she enjoys the beauty of the coast, but also loves the cold, snowy winters. She is obsessed with Boston sports and the Denver Broncos.

2015 Gift Card Sales Reach $130 Billion

2015 gift card sales

2015 gift card sales in the U.S. reach $130 billion, a 6% increase over 2014.

2015 gift cards sales are just the beginning as gift card sales are predicted to reach $160 billion by 2018. E-gifting had the largest increase, rising to 26% in 2015, representing $7.1 billion in volume. E-gifting is also expected to support the overall payment industry growth. Long-term prospects for e-gifting remain promising as more payment services become mainstream and plastic cards make the switch to digital.

“Consumers continue to enjoy the convenience of giving and receiving gift cards in all forms,” said CEB Principal Executive Advisor Brian Riley.  “Both retailers and financial institutions have prioritized gift cards as a central to their strategies for gaining share of customers’ (increasingly digital) wallets.”

The amount of breakage (spillage), also known as unused gift card volume, continued to significantly decline, resulting in less than 1% of total volume. Regulatory action (Credit CARD act) has tightened rules on retailers, making it more difficult for stores to cancel unused cards or charge inactivity fees. This helps to prevent retailers from quickly cashing in on breakage. Customers have also caught on and appear to be finding more ways to avoid breakage. Even if there is only a small amount left on a gift card the consumers are finding a way to use them. But there is still a positive for retailers, as this usually means more lift (the amount that the customer spends over the value of the gift card)!

Other key findings:

  • Open network branded cards grew to $48 billion (up 6.7%)
  • Retailer cards grew to $43 billion (up 4.9%)
  • The restaurant and miscellaneous categories both showed limited growth with $19 billion and $13 billion, respectively.

Read the full press release from CEB Global, here.

With continued growth, the 2018 prediction of $160 billion could very well be surpassed with ease.  What are you expecting from the gift card payments industry in 2016?

 

Jennifer DiPietro has been managing B2B gift card programs since 2010. A lover of social media, she has recently decided to get back into blogging as well as delve deeper into the world of marketing. Native to New England, she enjoys the beauty of the coast, but also loves the cold, snowy winters. She is obsessed with Boston sports and the Denver Broncos.

GiftCard Partners Named One of “Best and Brightest Companies to Work For” in 2015

best and brightest 2015

Awarded by the National Association for Business Resources

Wellesley, MA (PRWEB) December 31, 2015 – GiftCard Partners (GCP) has announced that for the third consecutive year, they have been named one of the nation’s “Best and Brightest Companies to Work For™” by the National Association for Business Resources.

The 101 Best and Brightest Companies to Work For™ is one of the nation’s most premier awards competition. It is not only challenging but celebrates meaningful work-life impact for participating companies. The winners have ensured that all their actions are performed through their mission, vision, values, culture and leadership.

As a national winner, GiftCard Partners has displayed a commitment to excellence in their employee enrichment and human resource practices. The judging process requires companies and their employees to go through a rigorous two-part survey process, designed to gather detailed information and feedback from employees of the organization. Results were then analyzed based on categories such as communication, work-life balance, employee education, diversity, recognition, retention, and more.

best & brightest 2015

The GCP team at the 2015 IMA Executive Summit

Deborah Merkin, Co-CEO of GiftCard Partners said about the win, “We are honored to receive The Best and Brightest Companies to Work For™ award for the third year in a row. From the beginning, Ed (fellow Co-CEO of GiftCard Partners) and I have strived to offer those at our company a work-life balance. We want to provide a work environment that challenges each of our employees to reach their fullest potential while not compromising the time they spend with their family.”

About Best and Brightest Companies to Work For™
Best and Brightest strives to recognize the most influential, trend-setting companies across the country and regionally in focused programs.

The “Best and Brightest Companies to Work For” is presented annually in the following nine markets: Atlanta, Milwaukee, San Francisco Bay Area, Houston, Dallas-Fort Worth, Metro Detroit, West Michigan, Chicago, and Nationally. This premier awards symposium celebrates those companies that are making the lives of their employees better as well as improving the community as a whole. The 101 Best and Brightest program provides yearlong education, benchmarking, assessment tools, and interaction amongst the best employers.

To learn more about the awards and the National Association for Business Resources, please visit http://www.101bestandbrightest.com.  You can also follow them on Twitter @101best

About GiftCard Partners, Inc.
GiftCard Partners is an award-winning leader in the fast-growing payments industry with a proven record of success. We are dedicated to building retailers’ and merchants’ B2B gift card business through the use of leading-edge marketing and technology. GiftCard Partners increases top line revenue, strengthens brand awareness and drives new customer acquisition for our clients including CVS/pharmacy®, Whole Foods Market, AutoZoneThe Cheesecake Factory, Boston Market, and more.

We place our clients’ gift cards in workplace safety programs, health and wellness programs, employee recognition, motivation and sales incentive programs, and customer rewards and loyalty programs.

We serve businesses in their selection of our client’s gift cards matching the brand to their program. As a result of our deep brand and industry expertise, we recognize that in order for a program to be successful, the congruency of the reward must match the program, e.g. The “Right Brands for the Right Programs”.

Learn more about our services: contact us today!


Contact Us 

Established in 2004, GiftCard Partners is an award-winning leader and outsourced solution provider for merchant B2B gift card programs through key distribution channels.

Need Last Minute Gifts? Grab a Gift Card!

last minute gift

The National Retail Federation (NRF) announced this week that 90% of shoppers still have last minute gifts, food, decor and/or other holiday items left to buy. The biggest reason people listed for waiting was that they were still trying to figure out what to buy.

  • 45% are still weighing choices
  • 29% are still waiting on ideas from friends and family
  • 22% are waiting for the best deals, and
  • 21% admit to just procrastinating

The attitude towards gift cards as last minute gifts

The great debate around gift cards as a last minute gift idea is not new. It seems that every holiday season retailers and shoppers ask if gift cards are still valued by recipients. Many times gift cards may be given the cold shoulder with the fear that they come off as impersonal or lack creativity. But what’s important to note is that, in most cases, that feeling is coming from the giver, not the receiver.

So how does the receiver feel about getting gift cards?

With only a few days left in the holiday shopping season, a new Gift Card Christmas Study from Field Agent – a Fayetteville-based agency who focuses on data collection from consumers, indicates gift cards are still viewed as a popular choice. The study revealed that most believe gift cards make “fine holiday presents.” Of the 500 shoppers surveyed, 86% of women and 75% of men more or less agree with the statement, “I believe gift cards make good Christmas gifts.”

With gift cards always in-stock, and with few exceptions placed on the cards, there is little incentive for shoppers to buy early making them an ideal candidate for that special last minute gift. Gift cards represent favorite brands and can show the recipient that you know what they like. They also represent restaurants, entertainment, and services that otherwise couldn’t be gifted. So when you’re walking past that gift card rack, with your hands full of last minute gifts, take a second to browse. You may be looking at the preferred gift of choice that your friends or family will love.

Cameron has over ten years of experience in the prepaid industry that includes the development, sales and marketing of gift card programs for large, nationwide retailers and hospitality operators. His expertise in identifying and developing distribution channels and maximizing third-party distribution enables our clients to achieve their goals.

AutoZone Partners With Openbay

AutoZone partners with Openbay

The first truly omnichannel auto repair system is upon us as AutoZone partners with Openbay. The partnership, launching this month, will allow consumers (beginning in the Boston area) to comparison shop service and maintenance packages with local repair shops for their specific vehicles. The service combines AutoZone store parts with Openbay’s online marketplace for auto repair. Learn more details about the partnership on Openbay’s blog.

The partnership enables true omnichannel retailing from both parties, combining the online comparison shopping enabled by Openbay and the in-store experience consumers have come to know and depend on for both parts and service from AutoZone. The partnership also enables ease of use for consumers, allowing quick and easy comparison shopping, where previously consumers may have had to drive from repair shop to repair shop to find the best price and value for their vehicle.

This partnership provides benefits to both retailers. Openbay gains lower customer acquisition cost and a 10% commission. AutoZone gains another channel of expertise by having a network of professional repair and installation services.

The partnership offers obvious omnichannel advantages, but also opens new channels of expertise and revenue potential for both organizations. In a time where consumers are increasingly educated about their purchases and are apt to comparison shop, the Openbay/AutoZone partnership allows retailers to catch up, meet and exceed consumer expectations.

Omnichannel retailing also provides a seamless shopping experience across stores and online channels. This has become somewhat of an inevitable move for U.S. retailers, as online revenues have been substantial for almost all retailers, but it has not turned into big business for any of them. As AutoZone partners with Openbay, the current landscape of omnichannel retailing will become more developed.

As AutoZone partners with Openbay expanding their omnichannel reach, they follow many other major retailers. Forbes article, Why Is Omni-Channel Retailing So Important For Bed Bath & Beyondshows how brands like Wal-Mart, Target, Bed, Bath & Beyond, and Costco have focused on omnichannel and their customers experience in their own ways.


Brand choice is at the heart of a successful loyalty and incentives program. Want to learn more?

White Paper Download - Consumer Mindset on Redemption & Choice in Loyalty and Incentive Programs

Rachel Merkin is a digital marketing professional. She has been exploring the worlds of social media and B2B gift cards since 2006. When she is not blogging, tweeting, or finding ways to leverage Facebook as a marketing tool, she spends as much time at the beach as she can.

Whole Foods Market Announces New Store Concept

whole foods marketThe latest big news from Whole Foods Market isn’t just the fact that they set another sales record in the second quarter, the grocery chain also just announced that they are launching a new store concept that is specifically targeted to the Millennial shopper.

The company says it is building a team that plans to focus exclusively on this new concept and is currently negotiating leases. Whole Foods Market plans to begin opening stores next year. The stores will have a more standardized design and product assortment. Once the first few stores are created, the company expects fairly rapid expansion moving forward.

“We are excited to announce the launch of a new, uniquely-branded store concept unlike anything that currently exists in the marketplace,” said Walter Robb, co-chief executive officer of Whole Foods Market. “Offering our industry-leading standards at value prices, this new format will feature a modern, streamlined design, innovative technology, and a curated selection. It will deliver a convenient, transparent, and values-oriented experience geared toward millennial shoppers, while appealing to anyone looking for high-quality fresh food at great prices. “We believe the growth potential for this new and complementary brand to be as great as it is for our highly successful Whole Foods Market brand,” added Robb. “We look forward to sharing more details about this exciting new venture sometime before Labor Day.”

To learn more about Whole Foods Market gift cards in bulk click here!

Jennifer DiPietro has been managing B2B gift card programs since 2010. A lover of social media, she has recently decided to get back into blogging as well as delve deeper into the world of marketing. Native to New England, she enjoys the beauty of the coast, but also loves the cold, snowy winters. She is obsessed with Boston sports and the Denver Broncos.

Consumer Mindset on Redemption & Choice in Loyalty & Incentive Programs

consumer mindset on redemption and choice

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Consumers today want the ability to choose, be it the wireless device they use for work and play, the self-selection of digital or traditional shopping channels and options, or the ability to choose among different gift cards in loyalty and incentive programs.

The better the choice, the more apt the person is to be active in the loyalty or incentive program, pursuing the desired behavior in order to earn the reward. Loyalty program participation is a problem for many companies. According to the Colloquy Loyalty Consensus released in February 2015, the average household is “involved” in 29 programs, but active in only 12.1

“A huge challenge is differentiation. Most programs look very similar to their competitors and even to programs in other verticals.”

– Barry Kirk, Solution Vice President – Loyalty Strategy at Maritz Motivation Solutions.

“When instituting a loyalty program, the goal is to engage your customer and give them a reason to transact with your organization more often,” adds Erin Raese, COO and Editor-in-Chief, Loyalty Management at Loyalty360. “Earning points builds engagement, redeeming points creates an additional positive experience. Therefore, it’s important to make sure your rewards selection is attractive to your customers. A way to do this is to provide gift cards to popular merchants where your customers like to shop.”

Gift cards are popular because the value is easy to determine and they know what they are truly receiving, whereas the value of travel or merchandise rewards are more ambiguous, Raese adds.

Continue reading to learn more about what the experts have to say about:

  • The transition to digital
  • The importance of incentive choice
Lauren is the Marketing Specialist here at GiftCard Partners. She enjoys all things marketing and design related. Learning about the newest trends and technologies in the b2b gift card world and seeing how we can use them to develop the best experience for our audience and reader base is our goal.

CVS Health’s Corporate Responsibility Makes Top 100 List

cvs-health-sign

Last week Corporate Responsibility Magazine announced its 16th annual 100 Best Corporate Citizens List and CVS Health cracked the top 30, representing one of only three retailers that made the list this year. According to CR Magazine the 100 Best List documents 303 data points of disclosure and performance measures – taken from information in seven categories:

  1. Environment
  2. Climate Change
  3. Employee Relations
  4. Human Rights
  5. Governance
  6. Finance
  7. Philanthropy
  8. Community Support

So what made CVS Health’s corporate responsibility stand out amongst a sea of retailers? In the article, What Makes a LeaderBill Hatton shared some thoughts on the decision to include CVS. Hatton zeroed in on CVS Health CEO, Larry Merlo who won a 2014 CEO of the Year award largely in part to the decision to pull tobacco from more than 7,800 CVS/pharmacy locations across the United States. While the move meant losing between one and two percent of total sales, the CEO and the CVS Health organization as a whole determined that the decision was consistent with their business strategy of creating a company based on improving the lives of their customers. Hatton ends the article by saying,

As with the decisions with other CEOs of the Year, the tobacco decision proved to be a case study in how to roll out a tough choice. The key was they looked for all the possible ways their decision could alienate people, and did their best to address each one – and recognized that they weren’t going to be able to make everyone happy.

Read the full article from Hatton here.


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Lauren is the Marketing Specialist here at GiftCard Partners. She enjoys all things marketing and design related. Learning about the newest trends and technologies in the b2b gift card world and seeing how we can use them to develop the best experience for our audience and reader base is our goal.