How to get the most out of your gift card programme

We may be a little biased here at Savvy, but we believe that gift cards are pretty wonderful little things with big potential. There is so much more to gift cards than customers simply redeeming them and spending with you. With the right tools and knowledge, your gift cards can really work a lot harder for you. In fact, gift cards could actually be the answer to some of the frustrating business challenges you may be facing.

Close up of a woman's finger shopping online with a gift card using a smartphone.

At Savvy, we help brands all over the globe realise this. As a result, we help them win in the world of gift cards. In this article, we cover a few ways that you can get the most out of your gift card programme with a little help from us and our platform.

Boost your sales & footfall during off-peak times

Off-peak times are something that the majority of businesses experience at some point in the week, month or year. They can make day-to-day running costs difficult to balance. Whether it’s mid-week afternoons for restaurants or the winter months for hotels and attractions, off-peak times can take their toll on business performance.

However, when configured in the right way, gift cards can give off-peak times a much-needed business boost. With Savvy’s platform configurations, you can apply restrictions on when gift cards can be redeemed in order to drive sales and footfall during those times when you really need them.

Take a theme park, for example. January to May might be a particularly difficult period for business. The potential of bad weather and school term times in full swing can consequently slow bookings. Savvy’s platform capabilities allow you to place restrictions on your gift cards around the time of year (or week or day) that they can be redeemed to help combat this, encouraging the gift card holder into your premises to spend their gift card value (and hopefully a little extra) when business is quiet and you need the sales.

The ability to boost sales and footfall during off-peak times with gift cards is also invaluable for restaurant businesses. Typically, weekends and evenings are the busiest periods for restaurants. So, what happens on Monday to Thursday before 5pm? You are open for business incurring all the associated fixed costs paying utilities and staff, but the footfall just isn’t there.

Consider restricted gift card usage windows to fill tables during these quieter times. Create an incentive by offering a free soft drink for all redeemed gift cards during these times. Or perhaps offer dishes on a ‘secret’ menu that is only available during off-peak times. Help customers feel that they are getting something special.

Connect to new customers with Savvy’s API

And of course, reaching new customers can only ever be a good thing – especially for boosting sales and footfall. Savvy’s API is connected with over 160 platforms, selling gift cards across B2C third-party, B2B direct and B2B third-party sales channels.

Wouldn’t it be great to see your gift card amongst the gift card malls in supermarkets and online outlets? Would selling your gift cards on Amazon deliver a step change in sales volumes the way it does for thousands of other businesses? Wouldn’t it be great to see your gift card offered by businesses as part of their customer rewards scheme? Your gift card is pretty awesome – give it the exposure it deserves and entice new customers. Savvy has the connections and ability to make this happen.

B2B rewards market

One of the most fruitful of these potentially untapped channels is the B2B rewards market. In fact, in their State of the Nation March 2022 report, the Gift Card and Voucher Association (GCVA) found that over the last three to four 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. This is showing no sign of slowing as we move into 2023.

An organisation may use an employee benefits platform such as Perkbox in order to reward their workforce with points each month that can be collected and exchanged for a gift card. By integrating your gift card with platforms such as these, your brand is amongst the options that employees can choose from when investing their points.

Again, you can control the redemption rules for these new customers using our platform configurations in order to drive their business during your off-peak times. With access to the right tools, your gift cards can truly work to benefit your business and solve the challenge of dealing with your off-peak periods.

Avoid margin erosion

As you may be aware, gift cards are often sold at a discount with the load value sitting higher than the purchase value. Sure, these promotions are super effective and work wonders when attracting and rewarding customers and encouraging repeat business. But when these gift cards then go on to be redeemed against sales items, for instance, it can eat away at your margin. Not ideal!

The good news is that with Savvy, you can actually set restrictions around location, times of day, and specific days or date ranges. This ensures that the gift cards you sell to specific channels during promotional periods can only be redeemed during specified timeframes. This encourages a healthy return on investment and is another example of how you can ensure your gift card is tailored to your business needs.

For example, you may want to avoid selling people a gift card on promotion during Black Friday sales that will then be redeemed during peak trading windows. Why not set a start date of 30 days away before that card is redeemed, ensuring you really are selling advance future bookings rather than discounting those bookings already coming your way? It’s not unusual for retailers and the like to set these restrictions, so don’t be concerned about feeling as if you’re limiting your customers.

Maximise your gift card marketing activity

It would be great if they did, but unfortunately, your gift cards will not sell themselves. They need effective gift card marketing activity behind them to give them the best chance at success! But what are the best ways to do this?

In-store marketing

Digital gift card sales soared over the pandemic, leaving physical gift card sales choking on the dust. Since then, however, digital sales have plateaued and now the playing field between the two channels is pretty level. With that in mind, your in-store gift card displays need to be pulled back to the forefront of your mind. Think carefully about how you’re presenting them visually.

Are your gift cards located at the register? Sure, this is great for planned purchases, but also ensuring they are displayed around the store can maximise those impulse purchases too. Focus on engaging visuals for your point of sale (POS) material. Use signage for clever taglines to showcase the reasons why a customer should purchase your gift card.

Utilise incentives and rewards

Gift cards can be used to inspire your customers to spend more when used as incentives and rewards. Boost sales on your pet supplies website by offering a £5 gift card to those who purchase to a particular threshold, such as £50. Offer a pre-loaded gift card for their next visit once a customer purchases ten sweet treats at your dessert parlour.

You strengthen the relationship between your brand and your customer and you pretty much secure a return visit. It’s a win-win. Plus, 72% of gift card users spend more than the original value of their card, so you should reap the rewards of offering freebies.

Gift cards work hand-in-hand with loyalty. They allow you to attract customers by encouraging them to sign up for your loyalty programme, reward the customers who spend with you and even reach out to customers who have lapsed their spending with you.

Leverage key events

Whatever your business, seasonal events and holidays throughout the year can really give your marketing activity a bit of colour and focus. Have these in mind when planning your gift card marketing. Starting with the obvious, Google searches for ‘gift cards’ see an enormous spike every single December in time for the gifting season. You’d be crazy not to leverage Christmas time to really amp up your marketing activity.

You can also look outside the box and outside of the holidays we all know and love, however. There’s a celebratory day for pretty much anything if you search hard enough. National Doughnut Day, National Burger Day, National Book Lovers Day – you name it, it probably exists. Check out this National Day Calendar for key dates and plan some fun gift card marketing activity around a date that suits your business.

Whilst marketing is key for a successful gift card programme, it can be difficult to know you’re driving activity in the right direction. With Savvy’s Analytics platform, you can gain real insight into your gift card performance as a whole – not just in relation to marketing. Discover which channels are performing best such as in-store versus online and which of your stores are hitting the hot spot with their sales. Filter data by sales, uplift value and redemption value over specific time periods such as month-on-month or year-on-year to monitor and compare.

Understand outstanding redemption

You might be selling plenty of gift cards, but is non-redemption of your gift cards an issue? 10-19% of gift cards are never actually redeemed. You’ve already received the revenue, but revenue typically can’t be recognised until a corresponding product or service is provided, making it difficult to improve your P&L (profit & loss).

To get the most out of your gift card programme and your redemption levels, Savvy’s Analytics platform provides you with a clear understanding of load values and outstanding redemption values. This visibility helps you to build an accurate picture of your total gift card liability in real time. Filter by channel, partner, brand, promotion, store location and card type to spot trends. This enables you to take the appropriate action to encourage gift card redemption.


At Savvy, we’re always looking for new ways to help your business and your gift card programme win. The capabilities we offer to our customers are always evolving as we strive to allow you to truly maximise the potential of your gift card programme.

If you don’t feel like you’re getting the most from your current gift card programme, turn to Savvy to help you take control. To learn more about how our Gift Card Management and Analytics platform can help you, just contact us and let’s start a conversation. 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.

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