How to get the most out of your gift card program

US consumers spend over $100 billion dollars on gift cards every year. Whether you’re a restaurateur or retailer, a gift card program is a fantastic tool to help you not only attract customers, but also make more money.

We’ll show you a few simple ways you can take your gift card program from ordinary to extraordinary and get the most out of these popular schemes for your business.

1. Effectively market your gift cards in your store

A gift card program can only be successful if consumers know about it. Big box retailers like Target and Best Buy sell a huge number of gift cards during the holiday season. Not only because they have a well-established reputation, but they also make sure their customers know about their gift card scheme. They market their gift cards in-store by displaying them on every checkout counter and having their sales assistants offer them to customers upon payment.

gift card on store counter

To get your customers noticing your gift cards, you need to market them in your store. Give your customers as many opportunities as possible to see and hear about your gift cards while they’re shopping. Take a leaf out of the big brands’ book by displaying them on your checkout counter and getting your sales team to offer them to customers as part of a natural conversation when checking out.

2. Improve your customer experience when handling returns

Gift cards can help you deliver great customer service when dealing with returns. When customers want to return items without a receipt, don’t disappoint them by sending them away with no refund; offer them a gift card of the same value as the returned item. With a gift card, your customers can choose to use the money to purchase something else for themselves in your store, or they can offer the gift card to a friend or family member for a special occasion. Either way, it’s a win-win situation for you and your customers.

using gift cards to handle returns

3. Run gift card promotions to increase customer spend

Gift cards are most commonly sold as birthday or holiday presents. However, they don’t just serve for this purpose – they can also be used for marketing campaigns and promotions. Use them as an incentive for customers to spend more in your shop, buy specific items you want to upsell and return to your store.

Run gift card cashback promotions by rewarding your customers with a gift card when they spend over a certain amount. For example, “for every $100 you spend, get $10 back on a gift card”. This encourages all customers who take advantage of the offer to shop with you at least one more time.

You could also use gift cards to encourage customers to buy specific products. For example: “for a limited time, buy any bike from our Trek Bike range and receive a $50 Gift Card.” This can help customers rationalize paying more for high-end items or spending on accessories. This will also help you to upsell specific items that you want to shift, which are unpopular or more expensive than similar products in your inventory.

4. Raise the awareness of your brand among the local community

How often does someone come into your store asking you to donate money to a charity or school? Often our first instinct is to turn them away because donating money would incur additional, unbudgeted costs. However, instead of turning these organizations away, you can turn these requests as an opportunity to strengthen your brand and bring in new business by offering them gift cards that they can auction off or give away as a raffle prize.

Firstly, this can help you to build a relationship with these organizations that are at the heart of your community. It can also help you increase the visibility of your brand within your community. What’s more, it will encourage people that don’t know your brand to shop with you.

A large number of people who receive gift cards for your store have never been there before, so make sure you take this into account when designing your gift cards.

Make sure your phone number and web address are clearly displayed so that new customers can find you easily. If your store is in a mall, make sure you include the name of the mall, or building complex and store number. If you’re hard to find, consider including directions or a small map. Make it as easy as possible for shoppers to find your store.

5. Optimize your gift card design for sales

crafting a gift card

Also, use your gift card design to get shoppers excited about your brand by creating a visually appealing design that reflects your brand. A bland, unoriginal gift card won’t get people motivated to shop in your store. Use colors, images and typefaces that fit in with your brand style guide to create a truly unique gift card that stands out from your competitors’.

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Gift cards are far and away the most requested holiday gift. The tips above can help you get your gift card program on point so you can stake your claim in the $100 billion dollars that are expected to be spent on gift cards over the next 12 months.

Cole Goebel

Cole Goebel

Cole Goebel works in Channel Sales at Plasticprinters.com. He's a POS industry insider, an expert in encoding and barcoding data and has a great knowledge of POS integrations.