Gift Cards are a powerful economic tool that can and should help strengthen the customer base and loyalty levels of any business.
The name “gift card” can be deceiving. These implements of the payments world are being used in far more significant ways in today’s businesses than as mere presents in lieu of a better idea.
If the loadable card program being offered by your Point of Sale is not helping your merchants grow and strengthen their customer bases while improving loyalty and customer sentiment, then it is time to reconsider the option you are offering. To assess your gift card program consider the following features:
1. Re-loadable Loyalty –
The terms “loadable card” and “re-loadable card” are preferable to “gift card” because these cards are no longer bought solely to be given away. Customers should be buying these loadable cards for themselves. Merchants can and should use these cards as tools in a loyalty program. By setting a minimum load amount, and offering a reward for every load, the merchant insures that customers spend a certain minimum each time they pull out their credit card. This minimizes credit card processing fees, ensures customer allegiance since their re-loadable card is only valid at the merchant’s business, and they are rewarded with every load.
2. House Accounts –
Since all loadable card account numbers are stored in the Point of Sale, it should be simple and easy to assign a specific account number to a specific customer. Configurable account numbers are preferable, as a customer can assign their email address or phone number as the account identifier.
Allow your merchants to offer these configurable, re-loadable accounts as a House Account option for their most loyal customers. If a customer doesn’t have their card with them or doesn’t want to use credit that day, they can simply have the balance subtracted from their house account. Allow certain exclusive customers to accumulate a negative balance (with a recommended cap of -$100 for example). This shows faith in the customer merchant relationship and will build a sense of loyalty from the customer perspective.
This additionally allows the point of sale to collect valuable customer purchase data that would otherwise be lost as an anonymous gift transaction.
3. Virtual Cards –
Finally, in the world of smart phone applications and secure, card-on-file technology, there is no reason to print plastic cards. The classic reloadable cards given as gifts are difficult to keep track of and are often lost before the balance is ever depleted. Virtual loadable cards not only save on printing costs and plastic waste, but like house accounts, they are able connect card numbers/identifiers to real people. Virtual cards are delivered via email and can be redeemed in-store or online. As long as the card is connected to an individual then the account can never truly be lost.