If you’re a small business owner, you may be wondering if it’s time to start selling gift cards. If you sell gift cards, you can enjoy a number of advantages – and even become more profitable, or bring more people into your store.
But you may be wondering if it’s really necessary to sell gift cards. You may already have a gift certificate program in place, for example. Is it really worth going through the trouble and expense of setting up a new POS system or gift card network in order to sell gift cards to your customers?
The answer is yes. Gift cards are worth the investment for just about every small business – from boutique stores, to coffee shops, restaurants, smaller retailers, food trucks, and more. If you sell gift cards instead of gift certificates, you’re going to enjoy a host of benefits.
In this article, we’ll go over just 10 reasons that paper gift certificates just don’t cut it in 2018. We’re sure that, by the time you’re done reading, you’ll agree that selling gift cards is the way to go. Let’s get started!
1. Gift Cards Are More Secure And Harder To Counterfeit
Gift certificates are inherently vulnerable to being counterfeited or faked. They’re usually just designed by a small business, and printed on paper.
And while some gift certificates can be purchased that include advanced security and anti-counterfeiting features like microprinting, heat-sensitive ink, and other such precautions, they are quite expensive – so most people opt to just use standard, high-quality archival paper for gift certificates.
If a thief or counterfeiter wants to duplicate these gift certificates, it’s quite easy to do so. They just copy the image, change the amount, and print out a new certificate that’s nearly indistinguishable from the original.
In contrast, gift cards are very hard to counterfeit, and they have no value until they are activated at a cash register. This means that your risk of being defrauded when selling gift cards is much lower – which is a good thing, indeed.
2. It’s Easier To Advertise Gift Cards
Because gift certificates can be redeemed or duplicated when they’re stolen, and there’s usually no way to track which certificates have been redeemed, it’s necessary to keep them in a secure place.
You may only be able to sell them at your customer service desk, for example, or your cashiers may have to keep them safe underneath their tills while they’re working.
This does keep the certificates secure, but it has a major drawback – unless you have plenty of signage indicating that you sell gift certificates, you’re not going to be able to advertise the fact that you’ve got gift certificates for sale – you have to keep them secure.
This is not the case with gift cards. You can set up multiple displays at endcaps, by cash registers, and elsewhere in your store with gift cards. They have no value until they are activated – so you don’t have to worry if they are lost or stolen. There’s much less risk when you sell gift cards, so you can market them to all of your customers more freely.
3. Gift Certificates Take Longer To Make And Redeem
When a customer purchases a gift certificate, it usually must be keyed in manually by the cashier. Then, the cashier has to fill out the value of the gift certificate, and must also have a manager or another supervisor sign the gift certificate, so that its authenticity can be proven. This can take quite a long time.
In addition, the same precautions must be taken when a gift certificate is redeemed. The certificate may have to be checked against a registry, or authenticated by a supervisor.
This all adds up to more time waiting in line for customers. And long lines can cost you sales. One study found that longer waiting times can cost you up to 75% of your customers, in some cases.
This is especially difficult to deal with during a rush, such as during lunch at your restaurant, or during the holiday shopping season at a retail store.
Gift cards, however, are activated automatically when they’re sold, and checked for authenticity automatically when they’re redeemed. There is no need to wait around for authentication – so your cashiers can operate more effectively, and your customers won’t have to wait as long.
4. Customers Can Buy Gift Cards Online And Send Them Anywhere
Most modern gift card service partners allow you to sell gift cards online. These are called “e-gift” cards. They’re completely digital, and can usually be redeemed either on an online marketplace, or in person.
If you sell gift cards online, you can boost your sales dramatically. When shopping for gifts, your customers can purchase a gift card directly from you, and send it to the recipient instantly. Having more options for people who want to shop from your store is always a good thing – so when you start selling gift cards, find a gift card partner who offers online gift cards.
5. Gift Cards Are Durable And Sturdy
Here’s a benefit about gift cards that is often overlooked. They’re very sturdy and durable! Gift cards are usually made out of high-quality PVC plastic. Essentially, they’ll last forever.
This is not the case with gift certificates, though. Gift certificates are usually just made out of paper. They can rip, tear, and rot if exposed to water – becoming, essentially, useless.
They also are not able to hold up to much wear and tear when they’re stored in a wallet or purse. That means your customers are more likely to leave them at home, and forget them when shopping at your store.
6. Gift Cards Are Easier For Customers To Track, Store, And Remember
Adding onto the above point, gift cards are the “de facto” standard for most large, big-box stores. Very few businesses offer gift certificates.
This means that gift cards are quite a bit easier for your customers to track, store, and remember. For example, most modern “mobile wallets” like Google Pay and Apple Pay allow customers to store gift cards by simply scanning the front and back, and digitizing the numbers and other information on the gift card.
This makes it quite simple for your customers to store and use your gift cards. Unlike gift certificates, they are likely to carry their gift cards around in their wallet or purse, or store them in a mobile application.
The easier it is for a consumer to shop at your store, the better, so this is just another reason that selling gift cards at your small business is a great idea.
7. Gift Cards Can Help Represent Your Brand
Gift certificates, as mentioned, are not easy to display or advertise. And they also do not represent your brand very well, because customers are not likely to carry them around.
In contrast, each gift card you sell is, essentially, a tiny billboard – which provides free advertising for your business! You can create custom gift card designs that help represent your business and your values. Every time a customer uses one of these gift cards, shows it to a friend, or otherwise interacts with their gift card, they’re promoting your brand – for free.
You can take this even further, with gift cards that are unique or environmentally-friendly. For example, if you run a food truck dedicated to vegan, organic foods sourced from local farmers, you may want to consider using a unique gift card, such as a wood gift card from Sustainable Cards.
In this scenario, your gift card will be truly one-of-a-kind among the competition, and it will help promote your own values – namely, sustainability and a dedication to environmentally-friendly business practices. That’s a win-win!
No matter what kind of business you’re in, you can create a gift card design that will help you spread your brand, and reflect your corporate values and unique spirit.
8. Gift Cards Make It Easier To Issue Store Credit For Returns
Gift cards are incredibly helpful for streamlining the process of returns for store credit. With the right gift cards and POS system, you can simply scan a card to issue a customer store credit, with which they can purchase any item that they want.
In contrast, if you don’t sell gift cards, you may have to issue paper gift certificates, or use an entirely different system to issue store credit to customers.
If you use gift cards at your business, you can keep things consistent when it comes to returns and store credit. This leads to fewer issues with frustrated customers, and ensures that your customer service representatives know what to do when issuing store credit to a customer for a return.
9. Some Gift Cards Can Be Reloaded And Reused
Gift certificates can only be used once. But some gift cards can be reloaded and reused regularly – which can lead to massively increased profits.
Take Starbucks, for example. The company allows customers to easily reload their gift cards – or send gift cards to others – using the Starbucks Rewards application.
The process is fast and easy, which is one reason why Starbucks gift cards are so popular. That’s why, in 2015, Starbucks sold an average of 1,700 gift cards per minute on Christmas Eve, for a total of $5 billion in sales in that year alone.
Again, the easier it is for customers to spend money at your store, the better! Issuing gift cards that are reloadable and can be reused is a great way to cut down on waste, and keep customers coming back to your business.
10. It’s Easier To Integrate Gift Cards Into Special Promotions And Loyalty Programs
One of the other reasons that Starbucks is so successful at selling gift cards is that they are integrated deeply into their loyalty rewards program. Rewards programs are a fantastic way to get customers to remain loyal to your store, and to give them something in return for that loyalty.
With Starbucks Rewards, for example, customers can earn points towards free drinks by using gift cards or other payment options on the app, and they can also get free rewards – such as a free drink on their birthday.
Using a gift card system makes it much easier for you to offer these kinds of freebies and rewards for your customers. It also eliminates some of the frustrations of alternative loyalty programs, such as “punch cards”.
Punch cards are common at restaurants and coffee shops. A customer comes in for a coffee or a meal, brings their punch card, and your employees “punch” one spot on the card. At a coffee shop, for example, they may be eligible for a free drink after buying 10 drinks.
But the problem is that it’s easy for customers to misplace or lose these punch cards. They may have purchased 5 drinks on one card and lost it – and because there’s no way for you to verify this, they lose that reward.
Using gift cards and a loyalty program allows you to digitize this entire process. You can log purchases digitally, and hand out discounts automatically, sending them to customers via email when they fulfill the requirements for your rewards program. This adds up to more sales, more loyal customers, and more profits!
Start Selling Gift Cards To Customers Now – And See How Your Business Benefits!
At EJ Gift Cards, we’re experts when it comes to selling gift cards. We sell gift cards from hundreds of different companies for discounted prices!
So don’t just take our word for it. If you’re interested in selling gift cards at your business, now is the best time to get started. Take a look at your options for gift card partners, find one that’s right for you, and enjoy all of these benefits – and more!
To learn more about gift cards and small businesses, feel free to take a look at our blog. Interested in selling your own gift cards for cash? Browse our FAQ, learn more about what we do, and start selling unwanted gift cards now!