The 9 key factors for successful gift cards
PrePay Technologies, a company that manages several million stored value card accounts for many leading brands in the UK, has shared with The Wise Marketer what it considers to be the nine key factors involved in setting up a successful gift card programme.
It seems that - if they haven't already got one - gift cards are top of the wish list for most companies today. Indeed, in the latest edition of our report on loyalty (The Loyalty Guide Volume II), an entire chapter is devoted to gift cards, implementation strategies, and best practices (details here).
Growth in the market is impressive, largely because they provide real benefit for all those involved - the retailer, the purchaser and the recipient. But, like anything worthwhile, there are pitfalls as well as benefits. With this in mind, UK based designer and developer of prepaid cards, PrePay Technologies, shares some useful but essential factors for success when planning one.
Key factors The major factors that PrePay Technologies believes need to be addressed include:
- Costs Accurate projection of and control of programme costs are essential to long term success. Costs are totally dependent on the retailer/client requirements, type of programme, required services and estimated volumes, and speed to market, etc.
- The time frame Speed to market is critical. Most, if not all, retailers are setting up a prepaid programme of some sort or the other. A Gift Card programme can take between 4-12 weeks to implement depending on the type of solution and functionality required as well as the range of services provided by the chosen supplier.
- One-stop solution In ideal circumstances, choose a partner who can provide a complete one-stop solution including issuing & processing, design & integration and compliance & Regulation System requirements.
- Hardware Before you step into the world of stored value, check with your IT team whether your existing hardware and EPOS meets the requirements. Most modern EPOS providers have standard gift card functionality. The cards can be swiped, scanned or keyed for loading or redemption depending on your preferred method of uniquely personalising two-step process, consisting of capturing a generic product code & the unique identifier. Choose a supplier that uses standard interfaces to acquire gift card transactions and that is compatible with most old and new EPOS systems and can provide a range of options to clients.
- Client Support Not all suppliers are created equal. Make sure that your stored value partner provides full support before, during and after project implementation and delivery. All projects should be led by a dedicated project manager. This means that from initiation to delivery and beyond, a dedicated project manager should provide comprehensive support. In a typical programme this would include:· Programme and project management resource;· Database setup;· Product setup;· Standard reporting setup;· Full testing;· Rollout support.
Full support should be provided during each stage and phase of the setup process.
- Live programme Support Once a project is live, clients should have access to as much support as they wish to subscribe to:
- Post implementation, the client should be provided with support guidelines to ensure that ongoing technical support is provided in the event of production issues. This service should be provided in line with standard service level agreements.
- A support desk should be the first point of contact for all technical issues.
- A dedicated Relationship Manager is necessary and should have overall responsibility for ensuring client satisfaction.
- Find a supplier that has a large technical team based in your own country, and that has dedicated teams that concentrate on technical support, software development and customer support.
PrePay Technologies points out that, while suppliers from other countries say that having a local supplier is not crucial, it is more logical to keep the operation local.
- Staff Training Your gift card programme will suffer if it is not supported by comprehensive staff training. Training and training material will allow your staff to efficiently and effectively run all elements of the Gift Card programme. Choose a supplier who provides intuitive customer/client interfaces to minimise training requirements.
- Client Involvement Traditionally, departments that tend to be involved are Marketing, IT, Retail, and Finance. The implementation and setup of Gift card programmes will impact or touch most elements of a client's business.
- The Project Manager Choice of project manager is crucial. It is recommended that someone with the following attributes/skills head the project on the client side:· Previous project management experience;· Good business relationships;· Ability to make commercial/business decisions;· Understanding of principles involved.
From its data centres in the UK, PrePay Technologies creates stored-value programmes and manages several million stored-value card accounts for brands such as Debenhams, Comet, Mirror Group, Ticketmaster, Capital Incentives (ACCOR), Arcadia Group (Top Shop, Top Man, Burton, Miss Selfridge, Outfit, Evans, Dorothy Perkins, Wallis), Laura Ashley, Western Union and the Grass Roots Group.