Crossing the digital divide | Incentive & Motivation

Corporate profile

Crossing the digital divide

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The last time Incentive and Motivation paid a visit to SVM Europe, the business was preparing for the inevitable Christmas 2011 order rush. After a very busy year, SVM invited us back to see the fruits of its labours.

SVM was prepared for that hectic Christmas well in advance – all hands were on deck and plans were in place to ensure that, despite the massive increase in orders, clients could still rely on speedy, accurate delivery.

But not content with the potential challenges the business faced in the run-up to this busy period, SVM was also trialling a new gift card management system – no small undertaking in itself.
With digital ambitions and a massive growth in turnover, it’s little wonder that more companies are joining forces with them. 

Signs of SVM’s growth are everywhere, most notably in the fact that this plastic gift card and voucher supplier has successfully launched into digital gifting solutions. Brian Dunne, managing director of SVM, explains why: “Age and generation are the new dividers of behaviour, rather than economic groups. We’re seeing generations X and Y, and soon Z, moving through the workplace and they operate very differently to previous generations.

“They have an expectation of immediacy and they view reward and recognition more tangibly, in terms of targets, tasks and what needs to be done. Their ethos is I want it and expect it now.”

This, coupled with the fact that more businesses are using social media and intranet platforms to encourage peer-to-peer recognition, means there has been a rise in demand for digital gifting solutions. Other factors are also at play. Many employers cannot offer pay rises at present, so must find new and imaginative ways to reward employees using employee benefits and incentives programmes, while demonstrating operational efficiencies.

Dunne continues: “Digital gift cards can be offered at a lower cost per transaction, because there is less time involved in delivery and fulfilment. We can deliver a very personalised reward that’s relevant to the recipient and the activity they have been rewarded for in a speedy and cost-effective way. We are seeing big changes in the market, some of which have been brought about by economic circumstances.

“They say you should never waste a good recession, so we are responding to these changes sooner rather than later. Longer term, we’ll continue to follow the innovations being made in the payments industry. 

There is a lot of noise around emerging payments, such as Google wallet and mobile solutions. With Generation X ready to become the bosses of the future, we predict that they will want incentive solutions that incorporate these emerging payments, and that gift codes will replace gift cards.”

It’s hoped that, in addition to keeping on top of market trends and customer demand, the move into digital will also help SVM push its services further into the European market.

“The beauty of digital,” says digital and online marketing manager Rob Goulty, “is that distribution are lower in comparison to the postage needed to send out plastic gift cards. We’re not ruling out a plastic gift card offering in Europe, but that’s a service that we can offer as a later phase.”

At present, Goulty is busy ensuring SVM can easily respond to its increasing number of e-code orders. The growth chart shows a consistently upwards-pointing arrow, as the company has gone from fulfilling 328 e-code orders in March 2012, to 4,191 in January 2013. This growth has been aided by the fact that around 100 retail brands, including New Look, iTunes and Amazon, have partnered SVM to offer e-codes.

In tandem with, and as a driver for, growth across the digital side of the business, Goulty is also developing an online strategy for SVM, which will see its web presence skyrocket. Beginning with its new-look website www.svmcards.co.uk, the company will spread its expertise through insightful blogs, videos and social media. Over time, the business will also look to move on to social media gifting platforms.

“There is a lot of opportunity in the reward and incentive market and it’s a fast-paced environment. It’s my job to ensure we are responding to changes quickly and effectively,” says Goulty.

Talent management
In a business devoted to solving clients’ reward and recognition challenges, it can be easy to overlook your own employees’ recognition needs. However, the past 12 months have seen many changes within SVM on that score as well.

The burgeoning business has needed to develop and grow its senior management team, and organise the rest of the company accordingly. For a company that likes to promote from within wherever possible, these changes highlighted the need for more stringent HR and talent management systems.

SVM takes people so very seriously that it has Dunne’ s wife Katrina as talent director and also its own talent manager, Cordelia Maden, who collectively ensure every individual is encouraged to develop their skills, and works with senior members of staff to identify and nurture the managers of the future.

SVM employees are no strangers to recognition and reward programmes. They are rewarded for demonstrating SVM’s values of trust, respect, integrity, stability and passion and they are encouraged to put themselves and colleagues forward for the company’s awards programme – the SVMies.

This is a company that works hard and acknowledges hard work, and it tends to retain its employees. The workforce changes through acquisition of new employees, rather than turnover.
Emma Henderson, customer care assistant, has been with the business for almost three years. She says: “When I arrived at SVM, I worked as part of a team of two people in Fulfilment. Now the company is much bigger and far more efficient in the way that we do things. The amount of change that we’ve gone through is amazing.”

SVM fast facts

  • SVM saved 312,645 grammes of plastic by moving to digital and reload cards (this is equivalent to the amount of plastic used in 62,529 shopping bags)
  • 347,227 plastic gift card and voucher orders were taken by SVM in 2012 (this figure was an increase from 90,647 orders taken in 2011)
  • SVM’s order breakdown in December 2012 reads as follows:
    – 44.5% plastic gift cards and vouchers
    – 49% reload
    – 6.5% digital.

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