The world of gift cards has never been static. Since the introduction of “store credit” decades ago, retailers have always been looking toward the future, in an attempt to capitalize on gift cards and gift certificates.
The first revolution in this world was the introduction of electronic, magnetic-stripe enabled gift cards – no longer would retailers have to offer paper gift certificates. Instead, consumers could purchase, give away, and carry cards that had the same form-factor and ease-of-use as credit cards.
This was a huge innovation in the world of gift cards, and the relative complexity and technological advancement of gift cards has remained relatively static since then. Most gift cards still use simple magnetic stripes for in-person usage and redemption, though some have incorporated physical numbers that allow the card to be used online in e-commerce storefronts.
But the next set of innovations in the gift card market are just around the corner. The speed of innovation in digital technology is constantly increasing. Think about it – even just a decade ago, the iPhone had barely been released, but now it’s nearly impossible to conceive of a world without smartphones.
And retailers are not being left behind. By leveraging emerging technologies such as increased connectivity through smartphones and the internet, the world of gift cards is changing – for the better.
In this article, we’ll take a deep look at several emerging technologies and advanced platforms that could determine the future of gift cards.
Geo-targeting offers an incredible opportunity for retailers. What if any individual with a gift card balance at your store got a notification when they had an available balance to spend? What if you could offer them a discount on goods, or on gift cards in order to get them to come into your store and spend their money?
What may have once sounded like science fiction is far from it – the modern GPS technology and retailer-built apps that are available for just about every smartphone on the market makes Geo-Targeting a huge area of interest for retailers, especially when it comes to the usage and purchase of gift cards.
It’s been estimated that the average person uses their smartphone for up to 5 hours a day – and checks it over 85 separate times throughout the day. This means that smartphones are one of the main points of connection to consumers – perhaps more important than radio, tv, print ads, or even internet ads.
In addition, geo-targeting can be very specifically tailored to specific users. Most people do not have the same tastes and interests, and retailers can use information obtained from search engines, mobile web browsing history, and other sources of data to determine what products to advertise to users and what discounts to offer.
If properly implemented, smart geo-targeting advertisements, discounts, and offers could drive a huge amount of consumer traffic to retailers, and give big-box, brick-and-mortar retailers a technological edge that they truly need to compete with large, online retailers like Amazon.com
There are concerns that geo-targeting could be risky, and be used by companies (or hackers) maliciously to track users and reveal their personal information.
However, with proper data siloing, implementation, and security, users will not be vulnerable to tracking, and retailers can still enjoy the benefits of geo-tagging, which will allow them to sell more products to more consumers – including gift cards.
Few companies have yet implemented these systems, but we think that the first one which manages to do so is going to enjoy some major competitive advantages.
Almost every large retailer has their own smartphone app, and retailers can take advantage of consumer behavior by offering smart gift card integration and wallet functionality in their apps.
A mobile app or wallet can have a similar effect to geo-targeting, in fact – with the added bonus that user locations do not need to be tracked, and that mobile apps can be used by non brick-and-mortar stores like Amazon.com.
Essentially, mobile apps with built-in wallets can be used to build up a smart consumer profile of a consumer – especially if they are also members of a loyalty program. These profiles can be used to provide consumers with rewards – a percentage discount on a gift card, for example – and by choosing laser-focused rewards, retailers can increase customer satisfaction at a minimum of expense.
Mobile apps can also make the actual use of gift cards easier. There’s nothing worse than going to a store where you have a gift card and forgetting it – you’ll have to go back home to get it, or cough up cold hard cash, which never feels good. Smart mobile retailer apps with gift card integration can allow customers to carry their gift card information on their phone – which they’ll never be without.
Finally, a mobile app with gift card wallet integration allows much easier use of gift cards for e-commerce storefronts, increasing the omnichannel selling capabilities of a retailer. If a user has a gift card balance and can shop directly from their phone, it’s much easier for them to make an impulse buy.
Together, this all means that a smart mobile application can increase sales, both in-person and online, and increase consumer loyalty by offering great rewards – especially when integrated with a customer loyalty program.
Simple Loyalty Program Integration
Loyalty programs used to be very difficult to use and integrate with gift cards – but not any more. As new technologies make loyalty programs simpler to implement, retailers have a huge opportunity to capitalize on consumer loyalty.
One of the best ways to do this for gift cards is by offering loyal customers, discounts on gift cards after reaching a certain point threshold or other metric – this will allow them to score a discounted gift card, which they will likely give to a friend or relative.
If they do so, that gives a retailer an opportunity to capture a new customer – and even if the loyal customer spends the discounted gift card themselves, the retailer still increasing their feelings of satisfaction and consumer loyalty.
Finally, when a consumer buys a gift card, retailers benefit – they get the money for the card right away, and though they must hold this money as a liability until it’s spent, they know that it can only be spent at their store, which increases profits and makes gift cards a great product for most retailers.
Loyalty programs can also be integrated with both smartphone applications and geo-targeting, making them a must-have if a retailer is looking to capitalize on digital technology and its effects on the landscape of gift cards.
Easier Purchase And Online Delivery Of Gift Cards
Buying gift cards in person can be slow – and there’s always the matter of delivering your gift. In the past, you would be forced to turn to a postal or parcel service to deliver a gift card to the recipient in person, or you would have to physically hand-deliver it to them.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing – after all, half the fun of a gift is seeing the expression of the recipient! – but it did limit the applications of gift cards somewhat, unless you were content with mailing them to recipients.
However, the internet has made things much easier – almost all major retailers now offer some kind of digital gift card, and the market for gift cards that can be both purchased and delivered online is constantly growing, making it clear that this unique segment of the gift card market is here to stay.
Digital gift cards are popular because they combine the thoughtfulness and utility of a physical gift card with a much easier delivery method – both for you, and for your recipient. Think about how many fewer steps there are.
For a physical gift card, there are quite a few steps – pick out a gift card, activate the gift card, write a note, find an envelope, find a stamp, seal it all up, and send it off to your intended recipient. If you’re lucky, it will arrive within a couple days – but unless you’re timely, you may miss the event (birthday, holiday, etc) for which you purchased the gift card.
Digital gift card simplify things quite a bit. Sign in with your account, choose the email address of your recipient, purchase the card, and write a note. Delivery is instant, as is redemption – your recipient doesn’t have to wait around for the card to show up, and can begin spending the gift immediately.
So while physical gift cards are unlikely to go away anytime soon, the convenience and utility of digital gift cards is certainly changing the way people use gift cards – and they may be the future of store credit.
Easier Buying, Selling, And Trading Of Unwanted Gift Cards
Before the internet, there was no real way to sell or get rid of unwanted gift cards. We’ve all had them – cards for unpopular retailers or restaurants that sit in our junk drawers, desks, or cars, unused and unwanted. Whatever the reason you may not want a gift card, the fact remains that, until the internet, there was no way to get rid of them without approaching friends and family about buying them – and you risk hurting the feelings of the gifter if you do so.
However, modern technology has made it very easy indeed to sell your gift cards online, and there are many websites out there that are specifically set up for just that purpose. These include direct gift card buyers, gift card marketplaces, and peer-to-peer gift card selling sites.
Though the precise functionality of these websites all differs, they all offer methods by which unwanted gift cards can be turned into cash, and they’re certainly the best way to get rid of your gift cards if you’d rather have cash.
Even some brick-and-mortar stores have gotten into the market, after the popularity of online gift card buyers. WalMart began offering gift card trade-in services in 2014, offering to turn cards from over 200 competing stores into WalMart gift cards, and change vendor CoinStar has begun a pilot program that accepts gift card trade-ins, and pays out in cash or your choice of partnered gift cards.
Clearly, the market for gift cards continues to grow, and as the number of gift cards purchased by Americans continues to increase, we’re sure to see corresponding rises in gift card buyers.
Need To Get Rid Of Your Unwanted Gift Cards? Come To EJ Gift Cards – The #1 Direct Gift Card Buyer!
Despite the popularity of online gift card buyers, there can be some that are scammy or have poor service – delivering slow payments, ignoring customer service calls, or otherwise offering a bad experience.
If you’re looking to sell some unwanted gift cards but aren’t sure where to turn to, look no further than EJ Gift Cards. We specialize in incredible service, great offers for your gift cards, and hassle free payment over PayPal – unlike competitors who use checks or wire transfers.
We accept hundreds of gift cards, and offer very competitive rates. There’s no commitment, either – just enter your gift card and see our quote. If you don’t like it, that’s okay – you don’t have to sell to us. As simple as that.
And if you ever have any difficulties understanding our system or our service, our customer support team can help you walk through your issue, and answer any questions that you may have. You’ll always have someone helpful to turn to when you sell your gift cards with EJ Gift Cards.
So don’t trust just anyone with your gift cards. Trust EJ Gift Cards. Instant payments, great rates, and the widest selection of accepted gift cards anywhere online – you can trust us to take great care of you.