Gift Cards: The Hero We Need This Holiday Season
By Holly Glowaty - EVP Merchants, Prizeout and Co-Founder of Flourish Conference
You know what I like about 2020? All bets are off.
In a time when we have all had to rethink pretty much every aspect of our lives, we also have to rethink how we use and promote the very products our industry is based on: gift cards. As we head into the holiday season, understanding our customers is more critical now than ever before.
My team took a look at early consumer trends across the retail industry, and identified Value, Safety and Availability as significant drivers for sales this holiday season. These three things are all core value propositions of using gift cards within not only a holiday strategy but a long-term program strategy, especially as we begin to see signs that many countries are entering a second wave of the pandemic.
- Value: Offering promotions driven by gift cards can be the tipping point for many customers this holiday season. Additionally, with the classic spend-and-get strategy where customers spend a specific amount of money for store value in return, they feel like they’re getting something valuable back.
- Safety: Digital gift cards can offer a truly contactless experience from gifting to receiving and redemption. Unique messaging and designs can make this gifting feel more fun and personalized.
- Availability: Physical gift cards are one of the easiest and low-cost items for a brick and mortar retailer to have in-stock and can save the sale when a customer realizes that the item they wanted is not in stock. But as always, one of the most significant value propositions of digital gift cards is their quick delivery and availability; especially for those last minute shoppers- or for those who may not be able to travel at the last minute this year.
What is important to customers right now is very different from this time last year. We are all worried about safely gifting; and making sure it arrives on time if we cannot be there in person. Further, consumers have experienced innumerable situations that haven’t gone according to plan and are looking to mitigate risks and unknown factors. With all of this going on, gift cards may not only be the hero this holiday season, but retail’s secret weapon in 2021.
Given the numerous obstacles retailers face (i.e. reduced foot traffic, limited supplies, constricted consumer spending), there is an opportunity for brands to get creative, try different strategies, and find growth in new channels. Brands can and should capitalize on the flexibility of gift cards by highlighting them as a perfect solution for the customer during the holiday season and beyond.
- Refresh art, messaging, and signage: One opportunity to highlight gift cards in-store is to be sure to have signage placements near other items that have sold out or are very likely to sell out. This immediately gives the customer another option that they can purchase. Adjusting art and messaging on digital gift cards can be one of the easiest ways to offer a unique product that is timely, memorable, and accessible for customers the moment they want it.
- Test new strategies: Many brands are learning how to interact with customers and foster customer engagement in all-new ways this year. Utilizing gift cards as ways to incentivize specific behaviors like signing up for email lists, spending a defined amount, or even making repeat purchases within a particular time frame, are just three examples that can be spurred with a promotional gift card offer.
- What three key behaviors do you want your customers to engage in this holiday season? How can you use a gift card to drive those goals?
- Find new channels: Whether your brand has an established B2B program or the idea of B2B sales is new to you, the rise of new partner programs offer unprecedented growth. The right B2B partner can provide a connection to new customers, specialized sales and promotional opportunities, and access to all new data that can further inform the more extensive gift card program. B2B programs often require a longer lead time than other growth opportunities mentioned; kicking off conversations with partners during Q4 of 2020 can put your brand in an excellent position to start strong in 2021.
It’s easy for brands to feel overwhelmed with the uncertainty of the upcoming holiday season; Given its agile capabilities, embracing the gift card as a cornerstone of holiday strategy can help brands be successful.
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