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Personalizing Gift Cards

personalizing gift cards

The biggest drawback consumers (and employers) have with gift cards is that some say they are impersonal. The stigma is, when giving a gift card, you are essentially giving cold hard cash, only good at one location. However, with the mainstream advent of digital gift cards and digital gifting, personalizing gift cards is easier than ever, not to mention a big hit with recipients.

With companies like Gift Card Impressions, both consumers gifting to each other and employers gifting rewards to employees have the opportunity to personalize this $118 billion gift card industry. And with the 50% year-over-year growth shown specifically in the digital gift card industry, personalization could be key to even steeper growth and better end results for retailers.

Imagine the opportunity for employers to attach a photo, video or personal message while giving their “employee of the month” a reward for their awesome behavior and performance. It provides a lasting impression on the receiver and frankly makes the gift given look even better and more caring than if they had just given the gift alone.

Gift card personalization goes back to one of the most basic constructs of gift card incentives. Trophy value. Gift cards provide greater trophy value than cash, they leave a lasting impression. Personalizing that trophy value only increases it.

How are you giving your employee rewards? Are they personalized? Let us know in the comments.

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.

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.

Online Gift Cards Are The Future In 2015

Online purchasing and mobile apps have been a go-to in our lives both personally and professionally, and this trend is growing in the gift card world as well.  Purchasing online gift cards are becoming the industry standard.

According to First Data’s 2014 Consumer Insights survey, in comparison to 2013, more people chose online gift card purchasing.  Purchasing online gift cards increased to 34% in 2014 – up from 26% in 2013.  The purchase of gift cards using social networks, such as Facebook, increased from 8% in 2013 to 13% in 2014.  Both plastic and e-gift cards can be purchased online.  Overall, 81% of respondents planned on purchasing the same or more plastic gift cards than in 2013 and 84% planned on purchasing the same or more e-gift cards than in 2013.

Gift card apps came to the forefront in 2014.  55% of consumers are interested in using an app to store gift card information on their mobile devices and 58% of consumers said they would prefer to use one app to store multiple merchants instead of using separate apps for each.  With more than 13% of gift card purchases in 2014 made through the use of a mobile app, mobile apps are becoming mandatory for a successful gift card strategy.

For more insight into the First Data Consumer Insights Survey 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.

Gift Card Spending to Rise this Holiday Season

gift-card-holidayThe National Retail Federation has announced that this holiday season, if all goes according to plan, spending on gift cards will break all previous records. NRF predicts gift card spending will reach $31.74 billion, up 83% since gift card spending tracking began in 2003.

What does this mean? It’s simple. Gift cards are the perfect gift. They are easy for the giver, they are guaranteed to please the receiver, and the price is set. It fits the budget, and is easy. Could any holiday-shopping-crazed consumer ask for anything else? We don’t think so either.

The important thing to remember is that gift cards work for everyone. This means not just your friends and family, but anyone else you might need to give gifts too. Providing small gifts to employees at the end of the year is a great way to say thanks. It’s a small act of appreciation. It could be as simple as giving them a gift to a grocer to help curb the cost of their Thanksgiving or holiday dinner.

So, as everything starts to get crazy later this week, with presents and decorations and wrapping paper, keep it simple and everyone will be happy.

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.

2014 Holiday Gift Card Spending to Top $31 Billion

This year holiday gift card spending on both plastic and digital gift cards will top all previous records with sales expecting to reach over $31 billion!  Gift cards have shed their reputation of being impersonal and have emerged as the perfect practical gift item for millions of holiday shoppers and are the most requested holiday gift for the 8th year in a row.

Shoppers are expected to spend an average of $47.87 a card, up 6% over last year.  Since the National Retail Federation began tracking customers holiday purchasing intentions in 2003, the total spend on gift cards has increased 83%. “Consumers young and old want to find the best way possible to create a happy holiday experience for their loved ones, and gift cards are a great option every time.”  Gift cards are a go-to gift for consumers of all ages; adults 65+ will spend the most on gift cards, while young adults will spend the least.  In addition, men will spend almost 10% more than women on gift card purchases.

The following charts provide more insight into the 2014 NRF survey results, check out more here.

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About the Survey

The NRF 2014 Gift Card Spending Survey was designed to gauge consumer behavior and shopping trends related to the winter holidays. The survey polled 6,593 consumers and was conducted for NRF by Prosper Insights & Analytics, November 3-10, 2014. The consumer poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.2 percentage points. Download complete survey results 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.

Gift Card Trends for Holiday 2014

Holiday season will be quickly approaching and as gift cards are still a growing part of most retailers businesses, they will be paying close attention to their gift card business and new gift card trends for 2014. By 2016 the gift card business is expected to grow by close to $20 billion. Of course this varies by industry, but it’s not all that unusual for a retailer to see as much as 50% of their fourth quarter business come from gift cards.

There are several new gift card trends that retailers need to be aware of as they begin preparing for the holiday season.

  1. One trend, and probably the biggest, is the growth of digital gift cards. Digital gift cards can be stored on consumer’s mobile phones and computers. Cards can easily be used online and some retailers are even accepting mobile phones at POS (or point of sale).
  2. Along with digital programs, retailers are developing a closer relationship between their gift cards and loyalty programs, offering their cards as part of loyalty program offerings and using gift cards in lieu of in-store discounts and other special offerings such as, “Buy X amount of dollars of product, and received a free gift card.”
  3. Trending on the environmental side, some retailers have considered replacing plastic cards with cards from a renewable material such as paper or wood.

Retailers need to start planning these programs out now and not let another year go by without a strong program in place. If a retailer waits until the end of the third quarter it will be too late to reap the rewards. And it’s not just the large retailers that are relying on the gift card market, many small and mid-sized businesses are also finding ways to offer gift cards.

Is your retail program ready for the holiday season?  Read more detail from the National Retail Federation about what’s trending for retailers for the rest of 2014!

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.

Gift Cards Remain A Retail Staple

In the gift card industry we know gift cards are awesome. Gift cards are flexible for recipients, easy for gift givers and ensure that the end recipient gets the gift they ultimately want. Now, the consumer public is showing that they agree with us. A recent survey by the Retail Gift Card Association shows that over two thirds of the U.S. population plans to buy gift cards through the spring and summer gift period. Here are a few other highlights from the RGCA survey.

  • 100% of survey respondents have used a gift card in the last year, with 77% having given one.
  • 23% of Father’s Day gift cards are bought from home improvement stores, the largest category for that holiday.
  • 44% of respondents indicated that their average value per gift card is $25. It is enough to be generous, without breaking the bank.

Gift cards are a fleible gift for dads, grads teachers and newlyweds. Almost all spring and summer gifts end up in the hands of hard-to-buy for populations. With the diversity of options for gifts, everything from AutoZone to The Limited, The Cheesecake Factory to Crutchfield gift givers can give gift buyers what they seek. This flexibility is popular with consumers, but also provides stability which is even more popular with retailers.

For more information on gift cards or the RGCA survey check out this article in Incentive Magazine.

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.

The Power of Gift Cards Keeps on Giving

cardsAlthough we all know that gift cards are nothing new, it’s also clear that they’re not going anywhere anytime soon. Much of their stable market has to do with the new digital trends and shifts happening within the gift card industry. With these shifts, comes a change in consumer perception of gift cards as well. Gift cards are a way for retailers to appeal to their consumers, making loyal shoppers out of many of their customers through gift card reward programs.

But gift cards have also remained popular as purchases for, well, gifts. Much of this is due to convenience, especially with the growth of digital e-cards, which make it simple to purchase and send quickly and without waiting in line.

For those retailers  looking to increase their gift card sales, however, they may have to offer a little something extra along with them. According to a new survey, 17 percent of consumers won’t buy a gift card until they see a promotion of some sort happening along side it, and 23 percent take promotions into consideration when deciding where to buy their gift cards between competing retailers.

But as anyone in retail or the gift card industry knows, no matter how the technology or promotions change, gift cards will always give customers an incentive to visit your store, a gift that’s priceless.

Statistics are courtesy of Incentive — read the full article here.

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

Summertime Employee Motivation

The weather is getting warmer and employees minds are starting to wander to that summer vacation to the beach or the lake. Springtime is the perfect time to devise a way to keep employees focused and motivated from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Variety is the name of the game with employee motivation, the key to success is finding a reward that everyone likes. Here are a few ideas:

  • Gift Cards: Gift cards offer a variety of options and allow an employee to choose their ultimate gift. Everything from AutoZone to The Limited is available and gives employees access to the ultimate variety of end rewards.
  • Travel Rewards: Motivating employees with the trip to the beach or the lake supports your employees’ work/life balance and keeps them motivated to work towards a long term goal.
  • Health and Wellness: Encouraging health and wellness is a win/win situation. For employees it provides an outlet either within or surrounding the work day to pause and get outside and enjoy the nice weather. Whether it is a walk at lunch or a post-work running club encouraging employees to enjoy the outside can benefit employers too. Healthy employees are more productive and lower healthcare costs.

The nice weather and kids being out of school can hinder productivity and allow minds to wander. Make a plan this spring to keep your employees on track and motivated towards common goals. For more information on how to keep employees motivated all summer head over to Employee Benefits News.

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.

Key Shifts in the Gift Card Industry

Trends in the gift card industry are changing. Many of the shifts are due to new technology and advances in the digital world. Some are based on pure convenience. From social media to e-gift cards, here are some of the largest gift card trends right now:

A Change in Channel

Where users buy their gift cards is changing in a big way. In only one year, in-person gift card sales have decreased by 10 percent, from 61 to 51 percent of all card sales. Online purchases, on the other hand, grew by 10 percent, which leads us to believe that those 10 percent who are no longer buying their gift cards in person are now buying them online.

Social Media Gift Cards

Although still on the low end, this new way to buy and use gift cards is gaining momentum. You may see these card offerings on Facebook when it’s your friend’s birthday, or even when you visit a retailer’s page who’s very tapped in to the social world. There are now several opportunities to both buy and redeem gift cards directly through social platforms, such as Facebook. Now, over eight percent of gift card purchasing is done through social media.

E-Gift Cards Grow

E-gift cards are definitely one of the fastest growing trends in the card industry. In just one year, the amount of people who bought e-gift cards grew by 15 percent, from 21 to 36 percent. The growth of this trend makes sense, what with the ease and convenience of digital gift cards. Plus, more and more retailers are now offering these as an option.

Gift Card Apps

There is now new technology that allows users to store their gift cards in their phone via app, taking the idea of digital gift cards to a whole new level.

Photo courtesy of First Data

Photo courtesy of First Data

For more information and data about shifts in the gift card industry, view this report by First Data.

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