Pre-Holiday Season Check List for Gift & Loyalty Card Programs

We know. The holiday rush is months away, and you’ve got a hundred and ten things that need your attention right now. But before you know it, spring and summer will pass in the blink of an eye, and the holiday rush will return!

Here are a few things you can do now to alleviate gift card headaches once the rush is on:

1) Review Last Year’s Program

Take a minute and review your gift card program numbers for the previous year. We find this can be an overlooked part of gift and loyalty card programs – assessing monthly sales, card inventory trends, rate of redemption after the sale, getting an idea of new customer acquisition.

  • If you’re not selling cards at the rate you anticipated, you can set measurable target goals for the coming year.
  • If you blew through cards so fast it made your head spin, now’s a good time re-assess quantities you typically order and have a clear-eyed view of what will work better this season.

2) Make a Simple Plan for This Year.

Based on your high-level review of last year, what makes sense for upping your gift card game this year? Pick just a couple of actions that are easily doable and can make a big difference.

Not selling enough?

Are you displaying your cards where customers can see them? We hear all too often – or see firsthand – that gift cards are in a drawer behind the counter or otherwise totally out of view of customers as well as the merchant’s front-line personnel. In a rapid-response society increasingly fueled by visual cues, SEEING your gift cards is paramount. If customers (and your employees) don’t see them, they basically don’t exist. We have customers who can unequivocally attest to the power of displaying their gift cards on the countertop as compared to when they didn’t. It may take some extra effort initially to choose a display and accompanying artwork, if applicable, but the returns are well worth the effort.

Review your card design. Do your gift cards reflect your brand in a compelling way? Have you been using the same design for years without much thought to an update? If so, the next holiday season could be a good time to roll out an update. It’s amazing what creativity and brand building can be designed into a small card. It’s a hard-working mini-billboard for your organization. If you’re not leveraging the space as an avenue for brand extension, it’s something to consider.

Consider Packaging. Are you drawing your customers into an irresistible giving experience with packaging for your gift cards that helps inspire the idea to give a gift in the first place? Holders and envelopes for gift cards can be custom designed or off the shelf, but either way, it provides the recipient with the sense of actually unwrapping a gift. It creates a more definitive and memorable gift giving experience.

Each of these suggestions takes a small investment of time but can yield long-term results. Now’s the time to turn new ideas into product that’s in hand and ready to sell well before the holiday mad rush.

Selling faster than you anticipated?

We heard from a number of customers last season that they depleted their normal gift card supplies more quickly than usual. Customers found themselves running through what they thought would surely be enough gift cards for the season. That experience seems to support industry projections of continued growth in gift card sales — to the tune of double digits — well through the next five to eight years. What a great problem to have!

A couple of things you might put on your list to streamline this year’s holiday season:

  • Increase your card and envelope orders, at least incrementally, to avoid reordering in the midst of the season when you may have to invest in rush charges to get them as quickly as you need them. If you increase your order you’ll likely get the benefit of price breaks per unit that increases with volume.
  • Order early. If you don’t use gift cards as regularly throughout the year, you might get stocked up in advance of the season. We know it feels counterintuitive but ordering (or re-ordering) early gives you a pulse on how your gift cards sell on a regular basis. Monitoring mid-year sales will give you a window into how to best ramp up for the season before the mad rush is on!