If you provide solutions to B2C businesses, you probably have a gift card solution in your portfolio. However, after a few turbulent years due to the pandemic and changing consumer behaviors, it may be time to reevaluate your gift card offering and, possibly, offer something new.
Gift cards continue to be a go-to purchase for consumers, even though they experienced a decline when brick-and-mortar stores were closed. Even though restaurant gift card purchases decreased by 32 percent in 2020 compared with 2019 gift card sales, they are now rebounding. Paytronix research shows that May and June 2021 sales are back up to 91 percent of 2019 totals. The fine-dining segment saw the most notable growth, with 22 percent more in gift card sales in May and June than in the same period in 2020.
Research for the Gift Card & Voucher Association’s (GCVA’s) State of the Nation 2021 confirms that gift card purchases from brick-and-mortar stores are also turning around. The GCVA reports that about 50 percent of gift card purchasers bought physical gift cards in March 2021, compared with less than 40 percent in February.
How Do the Gift Card Solutions You Offer Stack Up?
Value-added resellers (VARs) and other IT solutions providers have largely based the choice of a gift card solution on whether it integrates with the merchant’s point of sale (POS) and payments system. That shouldn’t change. Integration creates efficiency at checkout and the ability to provide real-time balances to consumers. However, gift card solutions should offer more than integration. To meet the needs of merchants recovering from pandemic shutdowns, your clients may benefit from gift card solutions with features such as:
E-gift card options: PwC research revealed that 48 percent of consumers believed they have evolved into “digital consumers” from 2020 to 2021. Additionally, the GCVA study found that 32 percent of consumers either purchased an e-gift card for the first time during the COVID-19 pandemic or bought them more often than before. Your clients who are strengthening their e-commerce presence may also benefit from a gift card solution that aligns better with their new omnichannel strategies.
Gift cards for promotions: The gift card standard operating procedure is for the consumer to choose the amount, and the merchant loads it onto the card. But what if your client wants to increase gift card solution ROI by using cards in other ways? Gift card solutions are available that allow your client to leverage them for promotions. Your client can issue them when a consumer spends a certain amount or buys particular products. Additionally, these solutions allow the merchant to set a date range during which the card can be used.
Multilocation cards: You may have clients who could benefit from offering gift cards that can be used in various locations. Find solutions for these clients that enable processing gift card transactions on multiple systems.
Features for the Back Office
In addition to evaluating gift card solutions based on consumer-facing features, consider the flexibility they provide to your client’s back office. For example:
- Customization: Ensure your clients can easily customize their cards and revise designs without additional charges.
- Online ordering: An online portal can make reordering cards faster and easier.
- Reporting: Analysis of gift card activity can give your clients an edge. Analysis can provide insights into where consumers buy the gift cards, average stored value, how much additional consumers spend when they redeem them, and whether gift card purchasers become loyal customers. This information can help merchants build gift card businesses and develop stronger relationships with their customers.
- Support: Top solutions offer merchants design, marketing, order and sales support.
Deliver Added Value
For years gift card solutions have been a standard value-add that VARs and IT solutions providers have offered merchants. However, one option with limited features may not be providing the value your clients need.
Listen to your clients and prospects, help them define their goals, and find the gift card solutions that can help reach them. You may be providing your clients with the ability to differentiate their brands—and you may also find a way to differentiate yours.