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?

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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.

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


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.

Ensure Your Third-Party Gift Cards are Properly Merchandised and in Stock

third-party-gift-cardThe third-party gift card segment has consistently been one of the fastest growing gift card distribution channels for the last seven years. Third-party can easily be your largest sales channel outside of your own stores. Actively engaging in third-party sales can increase your brand footprint, reaching consumers that may have not known about your brand otherwise. Having ongoing, frequent dialogue with your third-party aggregator is key to understanding what exactly their retail partners are doing to drive your gift card sales.

The aggregators provide you with access to your sales, but do you know why your sales may be trending up or down? Ensuring that your third-party gift cards are properly merchandised and in stock is one of the most critical components to why your sales may be trending positively or negatively. If your gift card is not available when a customer wants to buy it, you have a lost a sale and a visit to your establishment. Here is a list of additional questions to consider when analyzing your third-party program:

  • Why are gift card sales trending up/down within specific partner/s?
  • Are we aware of all marketing opportunities available to our brand? Paid or unpaid.
  • Was our brand included in marketing and promotions?
  • Where is our gift card displayed on the main rack and throughout the store?
  • How many pegs does our gift card occupy?
  • Is our gift card in stock? Are the pegs full? What percentage of the time?
  • Does adequate inventory exist to maintain in-stock availability?
  • Is our latest gift card design and logo being presented?
  • Which competitors’ gift cards are also available?
  • Are we confident the information received from the third party aggregator is accurate?

The answers to these questions are critical to managing this large, highly visible segment of your gift card business. A gift card audit can answer the questions listed and provide objective data as support. The results of an audit will provide a roadmap for improving sales and improving the performance of the third party aggregators. To learn more, click here .

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.

Incentive Professionals Weigh in on the State of the Industry

13th Annual Incentive Industry Roundtable

Photo from article, 13th Annual Incentive Industry Roundtable

Once again Incentive has gathered professionals from across the motivation and engagement realm to come together and discuss the state of the incentive industry.  Topics included a popular focus on retention and return on investment, the need for non-cash rewards, and a sense of what’s going on in the merchandise, gift card, and travel awards categories.

Here’s a peek at some of the discussions that went on this year in the big apple.

Motivating across all generations.

“Then we look at engagement initiatives and the multi-generational workforce that we have, we see that companies are realizing the importance of keeping their high potential, high-performing associates engaged.”
– Tina Weede, President, US Motivation

“We have to continue to figure out how to draw in and motivate and reward and engage all the people across the entire organization.”
Tim HoulihanVice President, Rewards Systems, BI WORLDWIDE

The type of rewards.

“The science makes a big difference. We’ve done research on cash versus non-cash that shows, empirically, that non-cash awards will change the level of production that you get out of someone, whether it’s sales or something else.”
Lynn RandallManaging Member, Randall Insights; Education and Content Consultation, Incentive Research Foundation

“Here’s the difference that electronic gift cards have made to the incentive world: When it was merchandise-only, catalog recipients were told to wait four to six weeks to receive a reward. The [plastic] gift cards came into play, and it was five to seven business days. Now, we’re delivering rewards in less than an hour.”
Dennis BorstPresident & COO, Patriot Marketing Group/Foot Locker Gift Card Sales

To learn more from the roundtable, check out the full article from Incentive Magazine here.

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.

Increase Your Company’s Gift Card Sales

increase gift card salesIt’s a question many brands face.

How can I increase my company’s gift card sales?

Perhaps you already have a point-person in charge of gift cards, or you’re looking to adopt a gift card strategy for the first time.

Either way, the opportunity is grand.

Gift cards are a mainstay – more than half of U.S. households report receiving a gift card in the last 12 months, and 85% of those recipients redeem the cards within the same time frame.

Without a focused effort and a sound, smart plan for spreading the word and increasing awareness of your gift card program, it can be difficult to reach the many potential customers likely to be interested in your offer.

We just published a free guide that covers five of the key strategies we’ve used with our clients over the last several years.

From optimizing your in-store and online presence to thinking more strategically about third-party relationships and B2B programs, this guide is sure to help spark some ideas.

Let us know what you think!

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

Get Social with Employee Engagement

Social media has become and integral part of all of our lives, whether we like it or not. Using social media to engage employees can be a great tool, it’s become a staple for many Americans in their day to day routine and requires voluntary participation by definition. Here are four great ways to use social media to stimulate employee engagement, no matter your organizations size.

  1. Solicit Feedback: Use social tools to solicit feedback from your employees. It doesn’t have to be public or identifiable to any one employee. Sending out an anonymous survey where employees can track the results in real time can make them feel like their voice is being heard and gives you the chance to see where the majority public opinion lies.
  2. Respect Privacy: Not all employees are social, or will want to use social outlets for certain topics. For employees who aren’t comfortable using these channels, make sure you provide private outlets to engage in a way that works for them. No two employees will engage exactly the same way, listen to your people and give them what they want.
  3. Score Yourself: Set goals for employee engagement, and adjust your program as you go. If it falls flat in the first iteration, follow up with engaged employees offline and find out what’s going on. An employee engagement program can’t be successful without the employees’ buy in. Be flexible, make adjustments and optimize.
  4. Reward Participation: When employees engage in the program you’ve outlined, reward them! If one employee sees another get a gift card to a popular retailer like AutoZone, Crutchfield or CVS/pharmacy, it’s safe to assume the desired behavior will be repeated.

For more information on how to make your employee engagement program social, check out Incentive Magazine’s guide.

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.

2013 Key Holiday Gift Card Trends

The Retail Gift Card Association (RGCA) recently released their Holiday Gift Card Trend Tracker Survey results, and there are some great notes for our retail and merchant clients, and for our B2B gift card customers as well.

How are retailers approaching this year’s news that consumers will spend less during the holidays  this year than last? The RGCA states, “…despite the tight wallets, there is a silver lining for many retailers: retail gift cards.” They found in their survey that 73% of consumers will spend less this holiday shopping season, while 74% will buy and give at least one, and as many as five, gift cards as gifts.

GCP’s customers, B2B gift card buyers, purchase gift cards in bulk and can also be pleased with these trends. Whatever consumers are doing, B2B buyers will want to be aware of and follow suit.

Key Trends for Retail Gift Cards graphic


Whether you are a retailer looking for the latest gift card trends
or a B2B gift card buyer, you’ll want to
check out the RGCA’s Full White Paper and Report.


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

6 Misconceptions About eGift Cards

At GiftCard Partners, we have been working hard to help gift card brands navigate the complicated eGifting technology landscape in their journey to offer eGift Cards. We’ve found that even though retailers accept that they will find new incremental gift card sales with early adoption, they have not rushed to do so. reports 70% of the retailers, recently evaluated in a CashStar study, now offer digital or “eGift cards”. This is up from 60% in 2011 and 40% in 2010. This is good news for consumers as we rely more and more on technology to organize our lives, but for retailers looking to offer eGift cards in the B2B marketplace; technology is a bit more complicated.

But let’s get back to the important questions retailers ask themselves of their gift card program when preparing to go digital…”should we offer eGift cards yet?” Or “should we be early adopters or should we wait for other retailers to figure it out”? Chain Store Age online offers us their Top 6 Misconceptions About eGift Cards and debunks them. Click to read on, the rebuttals, it will surprise you!

1. “eGift Cards will only cannibalize our existing gift card sales”
2. “Fraud in eGift Cards is too pervasive”
3. “Our IT department can build this internally”
4. “The technology is unproven”
5. “Customer adoption isn’t there yet”
6. “New hardware will be required in all stores”

If you are a retailer looking to “go digital” with your gift cards, Gift Card Partners can help with our RFP  Management service. We embrace the tricky work of renegotiating existing vendor relationships, and help retailers implementing new relationships, with: card supplies, processors, payment systems providers, and more.  >>Learn more about our Services Suite designed to improve your gift card program.

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