With the holiday season upon us, it’s time to talk gift cards. According to a survey done by the National Retail Federation in 2014, “gift cards [are] the most requested gift item eight years in a row.” And why not? Gift cards are more personal than cold, hard cash. They show that the giver took an interest in the receiver’s wants. And best of all? They practically eliminate the hassle of returning an unwanted item.
Gift cards put the power in your consumers’ hands. Whether you’re ushering in season’s greetings or simply considering adding another purchase path for your customers, here are three reasons why gift cards are a must for your small business.
They make gift buying easy.
For the indecisive shopper, gift cards are a great way to save the day. As I mentioned above, they reduce the hassle of returns. Unless you’re armed with a shopping list of exact wants and needs, it can be hard to nail down exactly what your friends want. Wrong T-shirt size? Allergic to vanilla-bean coffee but not caramel? What if that scarf simply isn’t their style? These are common dilemmas all customers face when purchasing gifts.
Gift cards eliminate returns for unfavorable gifts. And when those customers do come into the store? Get ready for some serious spending. According to a study by First Data, “72% of gift card shoppers spent more than the original gift card value when redeeming their cards.” So not only are they easier for shoppers, they’re also great for profit!
Gift cards boost new business while building relationships.
Generally speaking, we’re all creatures of habit. We eat at our favorite places, visit our preferred coffee bistros, and shop at the same stores. Why? Because we know what we’re getting. So how do you convince new customers to walk through the door? Gift cards are a great solution.
Since they’re an easy go-to for consumers of all ages, you can expect a boost with first-time customers. Gift cards encourage new shoppers to branch out and try locations they otherwise might overlook. And when they come in to redeem their card, you’ll have the opportunity to impress them with your customer service and small business feel. Even if you primarily operate online, you can still use e-cards to bring in new shoppers.
Pro tip: Consider offering reloadable gift cards. They encourage shoppers to return and give you the chance to foster relationships.
They help you compete with big box stores.
As a small business, it’s already difficult to compete with big box stores. Shoppers on the go can stop by any prominent retail shop and grab a gift card right next to the register. The entire trip could take less than five minutes. It’s great that you sell unique wares with heartfelt packaging, but sometimes ease and speed rank higher than your boutique feel.
Options are always better. Set up some gift cards near the register and promote e-gift cards on your site to help those in a rush. Customers will appreciate the ability to still shop local even though they’re on a time crunch.
Picking a solution
There are tons of reasons for adding gift cards to your arsenal, so now that you’re onboard start looking for the right gift card program. Prepaid cards, merchant bank cards, outside gift card vendors — be sure to do your research and find a program that fits your small business needs. You can even create your own to add branding flair to your business’s new plastic cash.
Just remember: Check out your state’s legislature concerning gift cards ahead of time. There are rules in place to protect both you and your customers.
With the right gift card program, you could be well on your way to more sales and new customers this holiday season. Happy Holidays!
[Image found at: http://research.nrffoundation.com/Default.aspx?pg=9007#.WDXRXuErIch]
About the Author:
Maxym Martineau is a copy editor and staff writer for GoDaddy. She’s an avid reader with an unhealthy addiction to Dr. Pepper and chocolate. She binge watches TV shows like there’s no tomorrow and is always up for a good plot discussion. You can follow her on Twitter @maxymmckay for further shenanigans.