This guide walks you through the ins and outs of gift card programs for small businesses – everything from the benefits, to how to sell them, and even marketing tips. You’ll come away ready to equip merchants with all of the knowledge they need on gift cards and to knock gift card sales out of the park!
Why Should Merchants Sell Gift Cards?
Gift cards are everywhere you look these days. People buy them, use them, give them, and ask for them. They are not merely reserved for holidays as they used to be and are not solely found at Big Box stores and large retail chains. Merchants are missing out on a huge opportunity to grow their business and increase sales by not implementing a gift card program into their business. With the sheer number of gift programs out there, there is virtually no excuse for not offering customers some kind of gift card option. Starting a gift card program is easy and will help increase sales, all while creating brand awareness.
Gift Cards Are Popularly Purchased
For one, people buy a lot of gift cards. According to creditcards.com, 93% of U.S. consumers purchase or receive a gift card each year. This could be because they are so convenient to buy for people or because they are a great alternative when you have no idea what to get someone. Regardless, they have consistently topped the list of most requested gift items for the holiday season. People also love receiving gift cards, boasting a whopping 60% satisfaction rate at receiving them as gifts. It allows for consumers to choose what they want from the places they want to shop. As a reseller, it is key to highlight how crucial this is for getting potential customers to a business. Offering gift cards will give people the option to purchase a gift for someone, bringing in future business.
Gift Cards Increase Sales
People who receive gift cards to a business are more than likely willing to spend more money than the value of the gift card. There is a psychology behind the concept of “free money” such as receiving a gift card with a certain amount on it. People tend to splurge on more expensive items or services if they have a designated amount already paid for. This is a great way for a merchant to move full-priced inventory. According to Giftcards.com, 72% of customers will spend on average 20% more than the amount allotted on the gift card. This is also a great way to drive sales after the holidays, as that is when most people spend their gift cards.
Gift Cards Bring in New Business
A big key benefit of gift card programs is that they bring in new customers. Even if a person has never stopped by that shop or store in their life, they will more than likely will go in if they have a gift card. This gives merchants an opportunity to start building a relationship with that new customer. Resellers can also sell merchants on gift card programs in conjunction with loyalty programs that will attract new business and satisfy their current loyal customer base. One way to do this is through promotional offers such as “Buy a Gift Card, get x-amount of money back for yourself.” Not only does that encourage gift card purchasing but it also increases customer satisfaction by showing them they are valued through a reward.
Gift Card Programs Help Small Businesses Compete with Major Businesses
Consumers who are in the market for gift cards typically turn to big-box stores, mainly because this is seen as the easiest option and they are sold everywhere. However, if their favorite store or shop is offering gift cards, they may be more likely to purchase a gift card from there as a more personal gift giving gesture. This helps smaller businesses compete with larger ones, by offering services that are similar such as gift cards.
Gift Card Best Practices – Plan Ahead and Put Them on Display
When it comes to gift card programs, starting early is step one. Well before any major holiday such as the big December ones, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Halloween, or graduation season, you should have your gift card program ready to go. As a reseller, it is important to give merchants all of the vital information they need surrounding their gift card program. Make sure you clearly tell them how long the cards take to arrive so they have enough in stock when the demand is highest.
Make sure gift cards are prominently on display. When people are shopping in a store, it helps to have items displayed in a noticeable fashion, so they can get in and get out with what they are looking for. The same goes for gift cards – make them accessible so people can find them. A big perk to having gift cards clearly displayed, especially at the register area, is that it encourages people to add a gift card to their purchase.
Helping Merchants Promote and Market Gift Cards
To put it simply – if customers do not know that a business offers gift cards, they cannot buy them. Utilizing social media channels to promote gift cards is an easy way to get the conversation started. Whether your choice be Facebook or Instagram or any of the others out there, it is easy and relatively cheap to promote your gift cards on social media. Create fun social media campaigns that include strong photography of your gift cards and products. Creating an online contest that engages followers and rewards them is another way to gain their attention and keep it.
There are a number of ways to provide marketing tips to merchants in order to help bolster a gift card program. All of these tips are essentially free and do not require very much strenuous thought. Email marketing is a great start. Not only does this push them to create some sort of loyalty program, it also makes great use out of customer’s emails. Keeping a log of all customer emails, whether in your POS system or in an excel sheet, makes it easy to send out an email about a gift card program.
Visual signage and displays takes things to the next level and will help maximize gift card sales. Nothing grabs attention like well-made signage placed in strategic spots around the store. Training employees is another free marketing tool. Employees can be trained to upsell at the register by offering gift cards and talking about the gift card program. Any promotions going on to support gift card sales can be supported better by employees communicating those messages directly to customers at the checkout.
Gift card programs can play an important role in bringing in more customers and sales for a small business. Helping merchants understand the benefits and ways to properly promote and market a gift card program not only will help their business, it will make you look like a trusted partner to them.
About the Author:
Nicole Bryan is the digital content writer for Sterling Payment Technologies, a payment processing company based in Tampa, Florida. Sterling is a payment processor that offers solutions that help grow their customers’ businesses more profitably and efficiently.
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