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Technological advances in payment options have made store gift cards and prepaid credit cards popular substitutes for the transfer of cash, particularly when used as an incentive or in lieu of selecting a specific product as a gift. These options mimic credit cards and allow the user the freedom of a predetermined expense account that feels more like a special purchase event than it does a simple transfer of cash.
Merchants enjoy the immediate sale when the card is purchased while retaining the use of inventory until a later date when the user comes into the store to make a purchase. The card issuer benefits from the fees associated with the use of the card. Card purchasers and users must pay special attention to the terms and conditions associated with each card, as some include time limits and special fees that can impact the ultimate value of the card.
Keeping Up with Demand
The National Retail Association has concluded that over $26 billion was spent on gift cards within the 2007 holiday season. This was a billion dollar increase from the previous year. It is obvious that consumers are enjoying the freedom a gift card creates for gift giving. Paying attention to your customers’ needs produces higher revenue and furthers customer satisfaction.
Customer loyalty membership creates an opportunity for your customers to earn points or credits that can be used toward future purchases or for added perks. They will also receive a discount for every purchase they make. You can use their purchase information for further marketing techniques. As you will know what they are purchasing, when they are buying your product, and how often, you can create profitable campaigns specifically targeted for each client.
Custom gift cards are very convenient for your customers, as they work the same as cash or credit but can only be used on your products. Gift cards are the same size as credit cards, so they are easy to carry and fit in every wallet. They also feature your logo or storefront on the card, adding to free advertising. These also work similar to customer loyalty memberships as data can be tracked and stored as well. Customers with gift cards have a predetermined value, creating an automatic profit for your company before the receiver even walks into the store. Using a gift card generally creates an added profit as most customers fail to stay within their balance, having to pay the difference out-of-pocket.
Reloadable gift cards are the best alternative to paper gift certificates. As they have to be activated by an employee, they are less likely to be stolen. There is generally a time limit on gift cards, so unused funds become free profit. Also, unused funds are not cash redeemable, increasing the likelihood of further purchases or increased profit. The option to reload the gift card can also create further incentives for your customers to return.
Gift cards are a great way to reward employees, boost company morale, and promote good will amongst employees and bosses. However, they should be carefully selected, and any fine print carefully appraised before purchasing in bulk.
Gift cards intended for employees should not be selected before conducting preliminary research. A gift card that allows someone to purchase goods or services that they neither want or need is just like not giving them anything at all. Some may even consider it slightly offensive if they receive a gift card to an establishment that they are certain they would never frequent.
When used in merit-based incentive programs for employees, workers may get used to receiving a gift card. A similar problem can arise from most monetary rewards programs. Employees come to expect a reward for their work and even rely on the extra money. In the event that they do not receive a reward, they may adopt feelings of bitterness toward your business and those individuals who did receive an award. Failure on the employee’s behalf to recognize this as a gift is what can lead to problems. Gift cards, however, are less prone to result in this dilemma than other monetary incentive programs. The fact that it is a gift card may aid employees in recognizing the gift for what it really is.
When gift cards are offered in employee incentive programs as reward for hard work or loyalty, there is a chance that competition may develop between workers. While a little competition amongst employees can be a boon to your business, when employees feel that extra income is on the line, the competition can go from friendly to fierce. This sort of competition is rarely a good thing, as it emphasizes individual accomplishment over teamwork and cooperation.
There is a common tendency among purveyors of gift cards to put a time limit on them. This saves the seller money in the long run if the card is not used before the date listed. This limits the effectiveness of using a gift card in incentive programs for both customers and employees. Saying that a gift card is as good as money is less than true if there is a time limit on it, and some people may not get to use this gift.
Like all good things, gift cards cost money, sometimes more money than you would like to put on them. If you plan to buy gift cards for a large group of people, it may be more economical to not give out gift cards at all. If you do not know what type of gift card to purchase, then you have even more reason to just give out the equivalent amount of cash instead.
Gift cards are popular among consumers and relatively cheap for merchants. Consumers purchase over 50 million gift cards each year. Since over 50 percent of people who receive gift cards spend more than the allotted amount, this is good news for merchants. Even people who are aged over 65, who are the very people who buy gift cards the least, think gift cards are a convenient option.
The cost of a gift card program includes the cost of custom-made cards, transaction fees, and any other fees associated with the merchant’s account.
The Cost of Cards
Custom-made gift cards can cost $1.50 each for small orders and $1 each for large orders. The more gift cards you order at one time, the more money you will save. Of course, you need to take into consideration how many customers you have and how you plan to use the cards.
The Cost of Fees
Transaction fees on gift cards are around 25 cents per transaction. However, monthly account and setup fees vary depending on each merchant’s requirements.
The prepaid card industry has grown steadily since its introduction, often experiencing a year-over-year increase in value in the tens of millions of dollars. There are numerous benefits for merchants, purchasers, and users to substitute prepaid cards for cash transfers, including increased marketing opportunities, more closely aligned and exciting shopping experiences, and convenience. The costs associated with using prepaid cards as incentives and the hidden costs and use restrictions that are sometimes tied to the use of certain cards can make prepaid cards a less attractive option than cash in some instances. Despite these drawbacks, however, the prepaid card industry continues to grow, underscoring the ultimate value of this payment option to the consumer marketplace.
Gift cards make great gifts. It sounds too simple to be true, but if you're not sure what to give your employees at the holidays or for special occasions, gift cards are a great way to show your appreciation without spending a lot of time shopping.
Most people have received gift cards for their favorite stores or restaurants. A gift card to Target or Red Lobster is a welcome gesture on any occasion. However, the gift card market has expanded in recent years, giving you even more flexibility in purchasing.
Maybe you've been given the task of purchasing gift cards for several dozen employees for the holidays. You could try to find out what each employee's favorite restaurant is, or you can give the gift of a prepaid card. These cards, offered by Visa and other national creditors, can be used for anything, just like cash, and they can be used at any location that takes credit cards.
Popular online auction sites also offer gift cards. This can give your employees even more flexibility since they are not limited to whatever stores are within driving distance. Gift cards can be purchased from both Amazon and eBay.
Thanking your employees has never been easier with the plethora of gift card options now available. Learn more by clicking the links provided at Business.com.
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