Gift cards have been seen for years as an evergreen gift. From B2C- gifts for relatives, relations and friends, to the huge $5bn B2B marketplace, gift cards are not going anywhere. From a business perspective, gift cards can be a ‘triple threat’ – something you can purchase on the basis that they will work in a few areas of your business. The most obvious, stand out areas are in the marketing/ new business team, within HR for employee reward and engagement, and also within the Customer Service department, where they can be used for apology. We take a look at some of the key points before you start purchasing gift cards for your business.

Gift Cards for Employee Engagement

71% of employees would remain at their current employer if they were offered a good benefits package and a huge  68% of employees would be more loyal to their employer if they were regularly thanked for their efforts or were shown regular appreciation and praise. With a  diverse workforce, that is often global – rewarding at scale is a real consideration for savvy HR professionals.  This is where Gift Cards come in. whilst you might think the delivery of the gift card is the hard part, with a range of mobile and digital options, this is now not the case and in fact, selecting what Gift Cards are used is more of an issue.

Anthony Mortimer, Business Incentives Manager, House of Fraser for Business adds
“Effective communication is the obvious way to drive engagement – keep employees informed of the rewards available and the ease with which they can be accessed. The gift cards on offer must reflect the needs and aspirations of an increasingly diverse workforce. With a diverse workforce, it may be more effective to ensure there is a choice of brands available, and continue to ask employees for feedback on how they would like to see the offer develop.
It’s also essential to drive continued engagement by keeping the offer fresh – regularly examine the offer, research the workforce, develop and commit to ongoing communication through every channel available from posters in communal areas to the intranet, email and staff magazines.”

Gift Cards for Marketing and sales promotion

We’ve all seen the insurance companies offering gift cards for a switch. They tend to choose big, household brand names, and fashion / lifestyle and homewares are usually the most used cards because of their diverse appeal.  Even away from insurance, when it comes to marketing and sales promotions, supermarkets, department stores and online department stores do have the edge and volumes because they represent ‘mass appeal.’  However, that doesn’t mean that you have to follow the crowd. Pick something with affinity to your brand that ties in.  Before you start to advertise, strike up a partnership, or at the very least, seek brand approval before launching a campaign. Don’t forget that cost is king in marketing. Dig deep into what you can afford to gift based on your profits – whilst you don’t want to do a ‘free airline tickets’ promotion ala the Hoover Company, you do want to make a great deal.

Anthony adds;

“It’s imperative, when selecting a gift card for a consumer promotion that brands are complimentary, and that the consumer really feels they’re being rewarded. Some key considerations come into play – is the price point of the brand too high, if the consumer can’t buy anything without adding significantly with their own money there’s the potential to alienate; is it easy to spend – can the consumer redeem online or do they have to travel miles to a store; and, finally, are the brands compatible. Get all those elements right and everyone wins, but get it wrong and both brands potentially suffer. House of Fraser is ideal for consumer incentives – it’s clearly a strong aspirational brand that offers something for everyone, whether the reward is £5 or £500, and gift cards can be spent online and instore.”

Gift Cards for Apology

Have you ever been sent a gift card for a poor experience? A gift card is one of the only dual items you can see really working in this scenario – both as a perk for a sale and as an apology.  Critically, gift cards have an edge on other items because of their mixed value, ease of purchase, long shelf life and diversity. They also represent a cash value. However – before you purchase any old gift card, think  of the recipient.

Anthony adds: “The priority here is to ensure you give a gift card brand that is easy to spend (online and in-store), and which represents a genuine treat – something that the recipient will view as aspirational and will be remembered for all the right reasons. The value must also be considered – the recipient must be able to spend their gift card without having to add their own money at the point of purchase; they may well choose to do that, but it should be their decision to ‘trade-up’.”

Are you using Gift Cards in any of these 3 areas of your business?