The time of year is coming when many people’s thoughts turn to Christmas and what gifts to buy their family and friends. Many rely on giving gift cards, as buying presents can be a minefield. Indeed the value of the UK gift card industry is growing quickly according to the UK Gift Card and Voucher Association. In 2009 it was worth £3.8bn and 2012 it is estimated to be worth £4.4bn.

With the advent of gift cards this has seen the demise of paper vouchers. This has made it easier for retailers to promote gift cards at point of sale and throughout the store. Whereas vouchers had to be locked down gift cards don’t hold any value or credit until they are activated at the till point. So promotions and displays on gift cards can help drive further sales of them. What’s more rather than retailers ordering card designs with a nominated amount on the design (such as £10, £25) if they order generic ones instead it allows cards to be pre-loaded with any amount allowing retailers to upsell the amount put on the card.

There are of course negatives for gift cards, but these mainly down to perception. Gift cards can expire, so it is important to check with the retailer if there is an expiration date. With some EPoS systems, such as Cybertill, retailers can manage this process by specifying an expiration date or not setting one at all. Although in this multi-channel age the real sin for retailers is not making the gift card usable across all sales channels. With cloud based retail systems, like Cybertill, this is easily done, so gift cards can be used in store, online or over the phone.

On the flip side there are huge positives for retailers and customers alike. They are a great tool for retailers to attract shoppers to their store or online, and often visitors spend more than the value of the card. There has also been research done across in the States that shows that consumers want to receive such cards as gifts.  The National Retail Federation survey found 60% of respondents hoped to receive them this Christmas. Social media has also had an impact on gift card sales. It is easy for people to look at a friend’s Facebook page to see which retailers or websites they ‘like’ and also to see if they have shared any ‘wishlists’ from ecommerce sites across social media. So people can buy with confidence knowing they are buying the correct brand or store’s gift card. This also means the consumer is getting a gift card they want so they can treat themselves.

So retailers should be busy ordering, preparing and promoting their ‘multi-channel’ gift cards in-store and online for the Christmas rush.


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