Closing the ‘gift card gap’: Unlock the power of data

An efficient business works like a well-oiled machine. Each department and level feed into one another to keep the cogs turning day to day. In order to keep everything working smoothly, key team members across the business need to have visibility and a clear understanding of how each department is contributing to the wider company goals.

To put this into the context of gift cards, if gift card managers cannot provide visibility and data around how their gift card programme is contributing to wider company goals around customer acquisition and retention, how will senior management understand their gift card programme’s value and provide appropriate resources for it to achieve its potential?

A gift card manager presenting to a team in the boardroom.

This knowledge and visibility breakdown has been dubbed by Savvy as the ‘gift card gap’. Without the data and tools available for gift card managers to illuminate the success story, the true value of gift cards might remain hidden in plain sight within your business.

What is the ‘gift card gap’?

Did you know that 54% of gift card managers do not use data to manage their gift card programme and 37% do not have strong internal management? These statistics were uncovered during 2023’s GCVA’s annual conference and bring some context as to how the gift card gap has become an issue.

Sure, if you’re a gift card manager then you understand the power of gift cards. But how can you demonstrate this with those at the top of the food chain who may not yet totally share this understanding in the same way? Without the data to tell the story internally of gift card performance, you are likely to find yourself struggling to be heard and get on the agenda in the boardroom.

How data can grow your gift card programme

Data is the key to bringing the success and challenges of your gift card programme to life. Unlocking the insights hidden in your data will mean you’ll never miss an opportunity to make strategic decisions that will generate further revenue and grow your gift card programme.

Not only will data provide new opportunities for your gift card programme that you may not yet be aware of, but it can be instrumental in building the case for gift cards within your company. It’s always going to be important to be able to report on the basics; gift card sales, return on investment and redemption rates. However, the more you drill down and filter your data, the more specific findings you can present. This will not only close the gift card gap and build the case for gift cards but provide value to other parts of the business too.

Let’s explore the many ways that data can close the gift card gap.

Know your gift card programme’s worth

How do you know if your gift card programme is actually profitable for your business? How often have you been challenged on themes of incrementality and cannibalisation? If you can’t say for sure or you don’t have the numbers to be able to answer these questions, then the default doubters tend to win the argument.

Ironically, your business already has all the data needed to answer these questions. It just isn’t sitting in one easily accessible place. Being able to prove your gift card programme’s return on investment (ROI) with solid data could be one of the best steps you can take to put your programme on the front foot.

Identify your strongest and weakest channels

As a gift card manager on the front line of all things gift cards, you may understand that your gift cards aren’t selling as well in-store compared to other channels, for example. As a result, you may want to invest in in-store team training in this area in order to make improvements. Or perhaps you can see the success of your gift card within gift card malls and want to ensure the investment is there to continue this focus.

With data, you can demonstrate and track the redemption behaviour of your gift cards. This allows you to identify and prove your strongest and weakest channels. This informs future activity and any missed opportunities. For instance, if in-store is an area that needs a little boost, analytics data can even provide you with visibility over which store or stores are performing the weakest and strongest so that you can effectively focus your efforts where it is most needed.

Having this level of visibility means you can lay out the business case in numbers, clearly demonstrate what it is you need and why and in future, report back on how this investment made an impact.

Analyse the ROI of your marketing activities

Marketing is an important part of any gift card programme. After all, your gift cards won’t sell themselves! Sometimes, marketing can feel a little like trial and error. However, with the right data, you can streamline your marketing activities and ensure that what you’re doing actually holds value.

Better still, real-time data allows you to make changes to your promotions whilst they’re still running in order to maximise their potential. For instance, if you’re running an online gift card offer that data shows isn’t getting much traction, you may decide to schedule additional email marketing and social media activity before the promotion risks making you a loss.

Being able to report successful marketing campaigns to CFOs and C-suite managers means that you have a better chance of securing the marketing budgets you need to continue shouting about your gift card programme.

Understand redemption & uplift behaviour

Whilst all gift cards are instantly loaded with funds upon purchase, not all of them get redeemed. But the level of non-redemption varies wildly. Very few retailers actually have detailed insight into this dynamic, which in some cases dramatically alters business case estimates for different sales channels and campaigns.

Uplift is a related dynamic and a key metric to consider. The average additional spend on a gift card is 35% of the card value. It can be one of the most impressive elements of a gift card programme that you can report on to demonstrate ROI.

Far too many brands use average estimates for non-redemption and uplift. Having real-time access to the actual performance data can transform understanding of what is happening on the ground every day, building confidence in the commercial decisions being taken.

Analytics data can show you which channels specifically create the best end-to-end commercial impact and in turn, the true ROI of your marketing campaigns and gift card programme as a whole.

Sales targets

When it comes to reporting to senior managers, sales targets are often an important part of the conversation. Make these conversations a whole lot easier and take your reporting and forecasting to the next level with gift card analytics data.

Unlocking gift card analytics data will allow you to gain a clear understanding of whether you are on track to meet your gift card sales targets. You can analyse the data with weekly, monthly and quarterly year-on-year comparisons to add more detail and colour to the picture. Split by sales channel, sales partner or brand and provide the most accurate forecasting for your gift card sales.

The Savvy solution

In order to really showcase the value and opportunities lying within gift cards, you may need a little helping hand from the data. Data is the key to unlocking the gift card gap and giving those that need it the knowledge to understand your gift card programme’s potential.

Savvy’s Analytics platform is designed to provide visibility of exactly this. Our interactive dashboard gives you an understanding of everything from load values and outstanding redemption values to marketing campaign results and channel performance.

You can also identify trends by filtering this data by channel, partner brand, promotion, store location and even card type. This paints a detailed picture of areas of success and areas in need of attention to report back on.


It’s time to command attention in the boardroom. Demonstrate your successes and identify missed opportunities with data to engage your senior managers. It’s as simple as signing up to Savvy’s Analytics platform.

Book a free 30 minute meeting today and one of our friendly experts can walk you through an interactive demo of our world-class Analytics technology, bringing to life exactly what it could do for you and your business.

For more information, contact us. We’re available via our website or give us a call on 0870 735 2829 (UK), 0190 22752 (Ireland) or 001 (502) 489 4439 (USA & Canada).

Gift cards in 2023: What’s in store for the future?

Whether you are a retailer, a hotel manager or a restaurant owner, you’ll appreciate that your business hits many peaks throughout any given year; from Valentine’s day to Mother’s and Father’s day, to Black Friday and everything in between, reaching an almighty crescendo with the Christmas season.

A woman using an online gift card on an iPad.

This continuous series of dates in the shopping calendar means retailers need to stay two steps ahead at all times. With that in mind, we’re sure your plans are already in motion for the unchartered territory of 2023. But what exactly might this fresh new year have in store for the gift card industry?


A snapshot look at 2022

Before we bowl straight into 2023, let’s reflect a little on what 2022 looked like. 2022 certainly brought an entirely new set of challenges. However, it was arguably the first year that we felt far away enough from the pandemic to be able to move on with a sense of normality.

As a result, the gift card market had another successful year following the massive surge it experienced back in 2020 when consumers were using gift cards as a way to treat loved ones when we were unable to meet face-to-face. Here is a quick look at the events and themes that defined the gift card industry in 2022.

Cost of living crisis

The topic that dominated press headlines throughout much of 2022 is the cost of living crisis. This is something that is being felt worldwide. With essential outgoings such as fuel costs, energy bills, food and mortgage interest rates rocketing in price, many households are really feeling the financial pinch. So, will this have a negative impact on the gift card market and retail market as a whole? Or is there a hidden opportunity?

Well, in their Cost of Living Crisis report July 2020, the GCVA (Gift Card & Voucher Association) reported that while 23% of people plan to buy fewer gift cards as a result of the cost of living crisis, an equal percentage plan an increase in spending.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that 50% of people are feeling flush right now. When asked, people who planned on increasing their gift card spending said they wanted to avoid wasted spending, lower their overall gift spending, reduce the cost of delivery and avoid the impact of price inflation on physical gifts. With inflation not predicted to come down until mid-2023, we can expect these consumer behaviours to continue feeding into 2023.

B2B rewards market

2022 saw gift cards continue to gain popularity, especially within the B2B employee rewards market. More and more organisations are utilising gift cards as a way to offer immediate rewards to attract and retain their employees. With the pandemic causing many people to seek more value within their job roles, employers are making employee engagement and wellbeing a bigger priority than ever. This is something that reward schemes are playing into.

In fact, in the GCVA’s State of the Nation March 2022 report, research found that 39.5% of consumers had received at least one gift card over the last three years through work rewards or incentives. Not only this, but almost all surveyed gift card managers said that their company offers both B2B and B2C gift card programmes and the B2B side is where most of the activity lies.


What’s new for 2023?

2023 looks to be another strong year for gift cards. The market was estimated at $414bn in 2021 and is projected to reach $640bn or potentially even $1.4 trillion according to Research and Markets, so the upward trajectory is clear.

So, what are the trends and key focus points that we can expect to see in 2023?

A continued sustainability drive

Of course, a focus on sustainability is nothing new. But it’s something that the majority of industries are making a priority in 2023 and beyond. The same can be said for the gift card industry.

Global branded payments leader Blackhawk Network is leading the way by providing more environmentally friendly card products and pledging to convert the majority of its gift cards to eco-friendly, biodegradable and paper-based materials by the end of 2023. In the next year, we predict that we’ll see many retailers continuing their recent trend in reducing and eliminating their plastic PVC gift card products and replacing them with eco-friendly alternatives. In doing so, they will win the loyalty of eco-conscious shoppers.

The continuing shift from physical to digital and rise of B2B

Digital gift cards have really built up momentum over the last ten years in particular. Online shopping habits are at an all-time high, with retail eCommerce sales set to soar from about 5 trillion US dollars to just over 8 trillion dollars by 2026.

The instant gratification of a simple click has conditioned shoppers to become rather impatient. Whether it’s next or same-day delivery or click-and-collect options, we’re simply not used to waiting for our shiny new goods anymore! Digital gift cards offer that instant gratification experience. Last minute birthday present to purchase? Forgetful shoppers can buy a digital gift card online and it can be sent and spent on the very same day.

The ever-improving array of B2B platforms in the employee benefits, rewards and incentives space is continuing to drive new use cases for gift cards to help solve customer acquisition and retention initiatives. This space shows no sign of slowing down, 2023 presents further opportunity for brands to attack.

Increased focus on fraud management and cyber security

GCVA’s State of the Nation March 2022 report also found that security and fraud management remains high on the gift card manager’s agenda. This is an ongoing battle with no end date and evolves constantly as the attack vectors vary almost weekly.

Elder fraud in the US and the UK has become a real problem. It has forced brands to make every possible effort to protect vulnerable customers. While the tactic is especially nasty despite being somewhat low-tech, it has now reached the point where various states in the USA have reacted with legislative vigour. Expect this to continue, as gift card issuers will be forced to spend a lot of time educating customers and lawmakers alike.

Unfortunately, scammers tend to present a whack-a-mole-esque style of problem. As soon as you defeat one type of scam, another one has already popped up elsewhere. But with an increasing array of enhanced tools and services available from industry players including Savvy, these risks can be substantially mitigated.


See your gift card scheme thrive in 2023

What does 2023 look like for your business? Make it your year of success and let Savvy take your gift card programme to the next level. Whether you are looking for integrated gift card processing, end-to-end gift card processing or gift card analytics, we can help.

Savvy has committed to delivering more platform and roadmap enhancements in 2023 than we have ever delivered before. We’re taking some big steps forward. Our new tools and functionality are all aimed at one thing – helping our customers maximise their gift card programmes and win!

2023 can be the year of bringing your programme data to life and using it to drive your business forward, accessing new distribution channels and evolving your gift card programme to be more flexible and agile than ever before. All you need to do is contact us at Savvy.

Tapping into the B2B rewards market

There’s not a lot that the COVID-19 pandemic didn’t affect. It changed the way many of us think and feel about life and this fed into consumer and employee attitudes towards businesses and organisations. People were left craving connection and a need to feel valued by the companies they work for and the brands they spend their hard-earned money with.

A woman holding a rewards gift card.

A 2021 Mastercard study revealed that 74% of consumers are more likely to buy from brands that strived to provide excellent care for customers during the pandemic, reinforcing that a customer-centric approach is more important than ever before.

Employees in particular are rethinking their purpose and seeking more than just a monthly paycheck from their employer. As a result, reward and recognition in the workplace continue to increase in significance. In fact, organisations that reward and recognise employee success have 14% better employee engagement, productivity and customer service than those without. Plus, they have a 31% lower employee turnover.

These attitude shifts over the last few years in particular have driven more organisations to invest money into employee benefits, customer rewards and B2B schemes. As a result, the B2B rewards market has become an incredibly profitable avenue for retailers with gift card programmes.


Gift cards and the B2B reward market

Whether an organisation is looking to reward their employees or a business is looking to reward its loyal customers, gift cards offer the choice and flexibility needed to please the masses so that all different walks of life can be catered to effectively with one product.

Let’s say for instance that an organisation rewards their workforce with points each month that can be built up and exchanged for a gift card via an employee benefits platform (such as Perkbox). By integrating your gift card with a platform like Perkbox, you get your name among the brands that employees can choose from when investing their points.

In a customer sense, let’s say that a bank, for instance, wants to reward a customer for opening a second account with them. Or perhaps an insurance company wants to incentivise prospective customers to choose their insurance policy. Your gift card could be that reward or incentive offered to clinch the deal – a win-win for everyone involved.

In their State of the Nation March 2022 report, the Gift Card and Voucher Association (GCVA) found that over the last three years, an almost equal proportion of consumers received a gift card as a reward or incentive from a company as the proportion that had purchased gift cards for themselves. With that in mind, there’s no denying that the B2B channel for gift cards is going from strength to strength and could be well worth your investment.


Why work with B2B reward schemes?

Still need more persuading? Businesses and organisations can reap many benefits from being a part of the B2B rewards market. Here are a few of the core advantages to whet your appetite.

Increase your brand awareness

Sure, it sounds pretty obvious but it’s important to recognise that connecting with other businesses and putting your gift card amongst different B2B distribution channels will in turn increase your brand awareness. When an employee is browsing an online ‘catalogue’ trying to decide which reward to choose, just simply being among the options can be hugely beneficial for brand exposure – particularly for smaller or growing brands.

Gain new customers

And you never know – that employee browsing the online ‘catalogue’ may just decide to redeem their points on your gift card. Offer them a frictionless customer experience and a fantastic product or service and you could have another happy, loyal customer to add to your roster for the foreseeable. Put simply, by putting your name among the options, you give yourself the opportunity to win new customers and re-engage those that have bought from you in the past but have since fallen off the radar.

Get ahead of your competitors

Whether you are a fashion retailer, a restaurant chain or a gym, you’ll almost always have competitors in your space to keep an eye on. Working with B2B reward schemes can add another string to your bow, take your business to potentially unchartered territory and put you ahead of the game. On a shopping high street or a Google search, your business will naturally be competing against tens to hundreds of competitors, but on a B2B reward channel, you may find it’s a naturally less saturated market, giving you a greater opportunity to stand out.


How Savvy can help

Tempted to start exploring the B2B rewards market? At Savvy, we have all the tools to help you access these B2B channels and get started with this new venture. With the Savvy platform, you can set up new partners with both speed and ease and use our gift card analytics services to measure and maximise how your gift card is performing.

Want to learn how you can win with Savvy? Get in touch today and let us show you how we can take your gift card programme to the next level.

Maximise your gift card sales this Black Friday 2022

Black Friday is one of the biggest days in our retail calendar and a must for any bargain-seeking shoppers. This year, Black Friday is set to fall on the 25th of November 2022 with its online counterpart Cyber Monday following on the 28th of November and US shoppers are set to spend roughly $158 billion during this time, with UK shoppers estimated to spend £3.95 billion.

A woman in a retail store holding a number of Black Friday shopping bags.

For UK shoppers, spending is set to drop this year compared to 2021’s Black Friday. With the cost of living crisis dominating the press headlines worldwide and tightening purse strings, this drop in spending may not come as a huge surprise. Whilst consumers in the UK still want to shop this Black Friday, they’re looking to get more for their money than ever before.

It’s not the same story globally though. Research has shown that one in five US shoppers plan to increase their Black Friday spending this year, eager to grab the opportunity to shop discounted products in order to maximise value.

So, how can you attract these price-conscious shoppers this Black Friday and maximise your gift card sales? Savvy explains how you can win this spending season.

Gift card purchasing behaviours for Black Friday 2022

You know the score – in order to effectively market your gift card programme and maximise sales, you must first understand your customer and their behaviour. And when it comes to Black Friday shoppers, there are a few different customer types that you can expect to need to cater to.

Early Christmas shoppers

Black Friday has certainly pulled the start date for Christmas shopping forward a week or two. Whilst many people can be found pounding the high street and emptying retail shelves on Christmas Eve, the organised amongst us will be ready and waiting to spend come Black Friday with their gift list in hand.

In fact, 38.1% of people in the UK start their Christmas shopping before November, and 69.8% before the 1st of December. In the US it’s a similar story, with 60% of consumers organised enough to start before December. Plus, with living costs rising, many shoppers this year will be hoping to spread out the cost of their Christmas shopping and make use of discounts while they’re at it.

How to attract early Christmas shoppers

So, what kind of deals are these customers after and how can you put your gift cards at the top of their Christmas list? Simply offering a discount on your gift cards is a great place to start. For instance, if a customer purchases a £50 gift card, they pay just £45. If a customer purchases a £60 gift card, they pay just £52.

By increasing the discounts the higher the gift card value, you encourage a higher spend and give customers more bang for their buck. Set your Finance Director’s mind to rest by ensuring you track every promotional gift card through its redemption lifecycle so they can actually see the resulting customer spend and value that discount offer created. They’ll probably ask you why you didn’t sell more of them!

When marketing your gift card promotions to early Christmas shoppers, focus on the element of choice for the recipient. These are shoppers who are eager to spend time getting their Christmas gifting right. A gift card is a gift that cannot miss the mark. It’s free money in the recipient’s pocket.

For gift-givers that want to ensure a worthwhile gift that won’t be getting returned on Boxing Day, your gift card is the way to go. Gifting unwanted presents can be a real worry. Over a third of shoppers planned to return a gift back in January 2022. Not only is this a worry for gift-givers, but it has a financial impact on retailers and an impact on the planet as shipping items back and forth creates unnecessary greenhouse gases. Gift cards successfully combat this with the level of choice that they offer.

Thrifty shoppers

Of course, it goes without saying that thrifty shoppers aren’t going to let Black Friday pass them by this year without taking advantage of slashed prices. These are the consumers that consider Black Friday shopping a sport. They will spend hours finding the best prices across the internet and in-store for the products that they want. So, with discounts a-plenty across the board, how can you make sure your gift cards stand out amongst the competition?

How to attract thrifty shoppers

Thrifty shoppers may not have gift cards at the forefront of their minds. They may be on a mission to purchase a particular product. Got any best-sellers that you’re expecting to fly off the shelves this Black Friday? Offer a free gift card of a certain value with specific purchases or if a customer spends over a certain amount online or in-store.

Offering gift cards as a promotion rather than a discount may just give you the edge over a competitor with equally competitive deals. It also rewards loyalty and builds a relationship between you and that customer. Plus, with free money in their pocket, that customer is likely to return in the future to make an additional purchase using said gift card.

You should also consider applying terms and conditions on gift cards purchased during Black Friday that stipulate that they can only be spent after Black Friday, or even extending it out until after Christmas. This way, you can be sure that you will regain some value on the spend rather than it being spent during peak sales periods.

If your gift card systems can’t support these types of capabilities, perhaps it’s time to consider better options. Savvy customers are winning when it comes to Black Friday and maximising gift card sales without impacting margins.

Direct cash-adjacent value is often higher impact than variable discounting. Get marketing in advance to capture thrifty shoppers at their research stage and put yourself at the top of their Black Friday hit list. You could even start your Black Friday gift card promotions early to tempt these well-prepped shoppers in before other brands start competing for their business.

Sustainable shoppers

For the sustainable shoppers amongst us, the packaging and delivery emissions that come with the consumer madness of Black Friday can cause heads to start spinning. In today’s consumer landscape, sustainable shoppers are an ever-growing part of any customer base. Every brand should be considering how they can attract these types of consumers, particularly during these peak shopping seasons.

How to attract sustainable shoppers

Digital gift cards offer a sustainable way for these shoppers to enjoy Black Friday sales without compromising on their ethics. Plus, research shows that shoppers prefer to do their Black Friday shopping online, so focusing on the online sale of your gift cards won’t go unnoticed.

With no physical product to handle or have delivered, digital gift cards have no carbon footprint. Not only that, but the level of choice they offer when gifted to a recipient reduces the risk of purchasing something unwanted, in turn reducing product waste.

A 2022 report found that there is a sharp increase in the number of people who have adopted a more sustainable lifestyle in the past 12 months, and this is increasingly seeping into buying habits. Sustainability is no longer a buzzword. It’s an important part of what many consumers are looking for. And these consumers seek to align themselves with brands that share their morals and values. By prioritising sustainability and using this angle to market your gift card programme, you unleash the potential to increase brand loyalty and win the return business of these shoppers for years to come.


Win with Savvy

It’s time to start doing everything possible to prepare your business for Black Friday. This Black Friday and every other day of the year, Savvy customers can utilise our complete gift card programme visibility and in-depth data analytics to help them maximise their gift card sales and understand their customers and their gift card (buying and spending) habits more than ever to ensure success year after year.

You can win with Savvy with our gift card processing and retail data analytics services – the perfect combination to help take your gift card programme to the next level. Want to find out how Savvy can help you to control and reduce costs, grow your revenue and improve your performance? Get in touch to request a callback and let us bring clarity to your gift card programmes.

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