As retailers run headlong into the busiest season of the year, they are not only stocking their shelves with merchandise but they're also making sure their gift card displays are filled to the brim - but are the store staff actively selling them?
The GIFT Network, a London-based research consortium, recently made over 100 investigative shopping trips to UK stores in order to gauge employees' gift card knowledge, usage and service. The researchers found that 5% of store personnel were unaware of their own stores' gift card programme.
While a small failure rate may not be seem excessive, the problem is exacerbated for retailers who depend heavily on seasonal (short-term) help. Given the growing importance of gift cards to the overall holiday strategy, it is essential that the limited amount of training temporary holiday staff receive includes the basics of how their gift cards work.
Another finding of the study was that employees had less personal experience using gift cards than the general public. Only 47% had purchased or received a gift card themselves versus just over 50% of the general public.
Because it is usually easier for employees to sell products they understand, the GIFT Network suggests that retailers should use a simple but effective training tool. Some retailers are giving each sales assistant a gift card at the very beginning of the Christmas season. It can be nicely presented with the message that, in appreciation for the hard work they will be putting in during the weeks to come, they are entitled to a little something.
Benefits of training
Retailers, however, will get the real benefit of this training tool when their employees use their gift cards and, in the process, develop a better understanding of gift cards.
This strategy actually costs the retailer very little. For example, a 10 gift card per employee costs the retailer about 7 if it is used by the employee (assuming a 30% employee discount) or 4 if the employee gives it away to a family member or friend. That cost is quite reasonable, considering the value of increased knowledge of gift cards and the corresponding increase in employee goodwill.
This idea, along with other practical advice and information about the gift card market, can be found in the GIFT Network's monthly white paper series (see here.