Outsourced gift cards 'a retail opportunity'
Gift cards represent a big opportunity during the recession for the UK's retailers, despite often being seen as an expensive investment in revenue generation and marketing, according to Rohit Patni from gift card solutions provider YESpay.
Patni explained that retailers can already invest in gift card technology with minimal capital investment and still gain useful insights into customer behaviour by outsourcing these solutions. For example, they can adopt online merchant gift card solutions that enable them to issue, load, and accept closed-loop gift card payments within their own retail environment. These require little capital investment and have low ongoing service costs.
While large retailers can often easily identify and understand their customers, small businesses find it more difficult to not only know who their customers are, but to find out about their spending habits. However, the adoption of an outsourced gift card programme can provide smaller merchants with the ability to assess the shopping patterns of their customers, allowing them to subsequently target the right customers for special offers and promotions.
Gift cards provide an effective way to encourage customers to come back, helping to build brand loyalty along the way. According to YESpay, electronic gift cards also tend to have a higher perceived value among consumers than paper vouchers or cash incentives, and they can often help to increase store footfall and impulse purchase behaviour.
Moreover, gift cards can also give retailers an extra chance to interact with customers and build a stronger ongoing relationship, by giving regular shoppers the chance to top-up their balance online, or transfer value from one card to another.
Finally, the integration of transaction handling across channels (i.e. at the point of sale, on the web site, and at in-store kiosks) means that the same gift card can be used in all areas of the retail operation, providing an easier and more consistent overall customer experience.