It’s the Holiday (gift card) Season! Labor Day is behind us and the holidays are coming at us fast. Sept, Oct, and Nov are three of the biggest gift card purchasing months of the year.

In fact, gift card sales account for about $100 billion in sales annually. And 50% of all gift card sales happen during these months. Sure, you accept Visa/MasterCard and other open gift cards as a form of payment but how can you be sure that you capture your share of those sales? How can you make sure that those buyers are walking through your door?

In this article we are going to discover some compelling statistics about just how popular gift cards are with today’s consumers. How your business can benefit from jumping on the bandwagon. And we’ll uncover the ins and outs of getting your own uniquely branded cards, the requirements and timelines needed to make sure you are all set up in time so you don’t miss out on the biggest purchasing quarter of the year.

Customers LOVE gift cards and you should too.

How much do people love gift cards? According to  a gift card has been the most requested present for 10 years in a row. Did you know that nearly every single American, 93% of people surveyed, say that they have either given or been given a gift card at some point? Gift card sales have been experiencing a steady increase every year with an estimated  $160 billion by 2018 in total gift card sales and it doesn’t look like it’s going to slow down anytime soon, what with Millennials gaining more and more buying power.

Jump on the gift card bandwagon.

Creating your own, branded gift card program enables you to be able to enjoy a slice of that $100 billion pie, while also satisfying consumer’s need for easy and efficient shopping.

People want to be able to pick out their own present and the people giving the gift want the recipient to be happy with what they get. Gift cards are considered the perfect efficient gift for today’s busy entrepreneurs because they are quick to pick up or buy online and there are no returns to be worried about. But typical open-loop gift cards, think Visa/Mastercard gift card in a given amount, sometimes have a tendency to give the feeling of “I didn’t know what to get you”. A branded gift card from a specific store gives an entirely different feel altogether. It conveys a sentiment, it says “I know you, what you like, and I know you’ll love this store.” It is much more thoughtful, more personal. People who give gift cards really do want to give someone something they want and will enjoy and be excited about and a branded gift card gives them that.

How can your business benefit from gift card sales?

Gift cards can help you increase sales and ticket average. When people are spending “free” money they tend to spend more. Consumers tend to buy items they wouldn’t normally spend their money on or pay full price for items instead of looking for sales. They also tend to buy more expensive items than they would have if they were spending their own money. Studies show that when people redeem a gift card they tend to spend, on average, about 38% more than the actual value of the card.

Exposure-This is a fantastic way to reach new, unique customers. A gift card is a great way for a person to introduce a friend or colleague to a store that they love. You are gaining exposure to customers that may not normally come into your store. You can also use your gift cards within your marketing promotions to increase exposure to your store. Use them in non-profit donations and giveaways, customer contests or just to show your customer appreciation. Donating a gift card, in lieu of a store item for instance, brings that customer into your store whereas after winning the gift they may have never decided to stop by the store. Do you have a customer email list that you’d like to send a promotional card to to help drive them into the store? Or, maybe you prefer mobile marketing and would like to start a text messaging campaign. Branded gift cards are basically walking billboards for your business so the marketing opportunities are endless.

Repeat business is just one of the benefits from your gift card program.

You basically have two customers for every gift card sold. Most customers are already in your store shopping when they decide to buy a gift card for someone or at least will end up getting something small for themselves while buying the gift. Over half of the consumers who have a gift card end up visiting the business more than once to deplete their gift card. The more often they are in your store the more opportunity they have to fall in love with what you have to offer and they more likely they are to think of you when it comes time for them to consider a gift card for someone else.

E-gift cards offer more convenience and more opportunity.

Many consumers would prefer to be able to store their gift cards on their phone, but no one more than today’s Millennials. This is how Millennials like to pay for their goods anyway so it is not surprising they would be most comfortable keeping and accessing their gift cards through mobile pay as well. Lost or unused gift cards amount to millions of dollars in unspent gifts. While this still represents revenue for business it does not make the consumer happy. E-gift cards, or virtual cards, can be purchased on the website and printed out or presented directly from a mobile phone. This way the recipient can come in and spend with you and don’t have to worry if they left the actual gift card at home. E-gift cards are also an easy way for the gift givers who may live in a different town or state to give to their friends and family then have it sent directly to them. Making sure your E-gift cards are available for purchase electronically, on line means even more opportunities to expand your market.

So , if you do not offer gift cards for your business, you are missing out on a plethora of income opportunities and benefits.

Simply having plastic gift cards out in the open and available for people can increase your sales. People are 30-50% more likely to buy a gift card from your establishment when you have a well-placed gift card program over paper gift certificates. People buy gift cards out of convenience. You know your customer likes shopping with you, after all they are in your store, but they may not even know or consider that you might sell gift certificates. But when your gift card program is proudly displayed in your establishment it gets them thinking.

It’s never too early to get your gift card program going.

By having your own branded gift card program you will be able to ensure that you are capturing a portion of this holiday gift giving and that the buyers are indeed coming in to buy from you.

You will enjoy the ease of bookkeeping too. Your back-end office includes robust reporting tools including detailed activation and redemption reports. No more manual tracking of the gift certificates you have handwritten. Automatic reports will tell you exactly how much you have sold and how much you still have out there waiting to be redeemed. We can even create custom reports, just tell us what you need. Detailed demographic data can also be stored allowing you to create and target your marketing to a specific demographic.

This information is vital in helping you create a relationship with your customers. What if you were able to reach out to a customer who has yet to use their gift card and remind them to come in? Would they appreciate such personal service? Of course, they would.

Your personal gift cards- what to consider.

This is gift card season! You don’t want to miss the boat. It can take anywhere from 6 to 8 weeks to get a gift card program set up, create your custom graphics and receive your gift cards. The sooner you start the process the sooner you’ll be in business.

Consider the graphics for your cards. This is your brand and brand recognition is what separates you from all the others. Your brand is how customers identify with you as a business, so you want your cards to look like your business and carry that brand in a simple to recognize way.

How will you display them? How will you let customers know about the gift cards and tempt them to buy one? There are a number of display options, including card stands, flyers and signs to help you make them more noticeable to your customers.

Gift card programs are a great way to increase sales, expand your reach and attract new customers and Bankcard Brokers has everything you need to get started with your own personal branded gift cards. Don’t hesitate because the biggest gift cards buying time of the year is already upon us!

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