POS Tip for the Holidays: Customers Want Gift Cards for Easy Gift-Giving
With the holiday’s right around the corner, I’m already thinking about gifts. Like many consumers this year, I have three goals:
1. Stay on budget.
2. Choose something specifically related to my recipients’ preferences in clothing, dining, entertainment and economic situation.
3. Be realistic in how much shipping costs add to the expense of a gift.
My answer this year is gift cards. I can predetermine my budget, select a card that will thrill my family members and friends, and shipping can be as little as the cost of a First Class stamp. Besides that, I am mesmerized by the vast array of options available; there’s something for everyone on my list.
What do Consumers Want?
Consumers want convenience and flexibility. What could be easier than a gift card? It’s quick and simple to purchase, meets the budget needs of the buyer and the desires of the recipient, and can come as simply or fancifully boxed or wrapped as the store or gift-giver desires. Consumers also want a card with no expiration date. And this year, more consumers will find additional convenience through purchase of the cards through their mobile/smart phones.
Benefits to the Retailer
Darrell Gregg, Jr., of USA Perfect Imaging Co., one of the nation’s largest suppliers of gift cards, noted in a recent interview that his gift card business has increased 400 percent each year, over the past four years. “In the past,” he commented, “consumers looked at giving and/or receiving a gift card as the lazy way of purchasing a gift. That’s changed, and in no small matter thanks to the economy. People love them because they can purchase what they really want or need from their favorite retailer.”
Gregg noted these advantages for merchants selling gift cards:
1. It’s cash up front, giving you more latitude in other areas of running your business.
2. You’re almost guaranteed that the customer or the recipient will come back the store.
3. On average 85% of people redeeming their gift card will spend an additional $17.70 out of their pocket.
4. 27% of all gift cards are lost or go unused, leaving the merchant with free money.
“One reason some merchants are hesitant about starting a gift card program is the perception that it is difficult and expensive,” Gregg explained. “They are surprised when they call me and I can talk them through the process in a matter of five minutes. We offer a basic 100-card minimum with no set up or design fees. They can start selling gift cards for under $100.”
“USA Perfect Imaging uses only 30 Mil PVC – the same size and strength of a credit card,” he added. “All cards are encoded on a HiCo (High Coercivity) mag stripe, to reduce the risk of encoded data being erased.”
How To Maximize Gift Card Sales
Here are a few tips to promote gift card purchases and make the experience a positive one for the consumer:
- Provide visible and consumer-friendly card displays; don’t lock the cards behind the counter.
- Be sure the designs are colorful and varied enough to meet most people’s interests.
- Don’t overlook the impact of local establishments such as restaurants, car washes, grocery stores, beauty salons and spas.
- Promote heavily in both pre- and post-holiday sales promotions to minimize the need for deep discounts after Christmas.
Retailers that make gift card purchases easy for consumers, promote them heavily and use effective POS marketing techniques, can successfully capture more sales during the 2011 holiday season and beyond.
About USA Perfect Imaging Co.
The company, established in 1971, was formerly a division of Merchants Cash Register, Their experience has spanned the era of mechanical cash registers to the sophisticated Point of Sale (POS) computer systems of today.