Gift Vouchers: Omni-Channel Challenges & Opportunities

Gift-vouchers can be one of the key levers for retail growth

Gift vouchers are a great way to drive sales from existing and new customers across both online and bricks-and-mortar stores. This retail practice is particularly attractive, as it generally drives greater revenue than the nominal value of the voucher:

The average gift voucher user will spend an additional $38 on top of the voucher value. What’s more, 72% of people who go to a store to purchase a gift voucher for someone else end up spending money on themselves.

Leveraged with a well planned retail strategy, this extremely versatile tool can be used to unlock a wide range of growth opportunities:

  • A convenient gifting product, revenue stream & means to introduce new customers - when a customer cannot find a product as a gift, a voucher is a convenient option for them and their friends/ family members. Not only do you secure the revenue from the voucher purchase but you also introduce a new customer to your brand that you can nurture into a long-term relationship.
  • Promotional incentives - for example a targeted seasonal email campaign whereby a purchase (perhaps over a certain value) entitles the customer to a free gift voucher
  • Named sales capture - providing a gift voucher as a reward for a customer sharing their details with you for future personalisation, marketing and relationship development
  • Loyalty rewards - reach a points threshold / tier and receive a gift voucher or use your loyalty points / membership tier to purchase a gift voucher
  • Sustaining seasonal / promotional period sales — often the spikes in retail come after big seasonal sales promotions, however, gift vouchers can bring customers through the doors as they spend their voucher after the holiday rush.
  • Attract millennials — research shows 25-34 year olds are fuelling the rise in the purchase of retailer-specific gift cards and vouchers. 3 of every 5 of the young adults surveyed reported buying at least one in the past year. 58% of consumers aged 18 to 35 said they would spend more on gift cards this year than last year.
  • Managing returns, rebates and rewards — If a customer wants to return an item to your store but doesn’t have a receipt, offering a gift card is a great way to keep their dollars in your business. This can also be an option if a customer wants to return an item after your regular grace period. By providing the customer with an option, you’re more likely to keep them satisfied and coming back to spend the amount later. 81% of customers are interested in receiving a gift voucher or card when returning goods as a means of store credit.

A disconnected experience = missed opportunities

Whilst the opportunities of gift vouchers are wide-ranging and high-impact, many retailers aren’t realising their full potential. They are presenting an off-putting, disconnected omni-channel experience whereby vouchers are only able to be redeemed in-store OR online - not both. Some retailers are even more restrictive by only allowing the gift voucher to be redeemed in the store it was originally purchased in.

Offering gift vouchers that cannot be purchased in one channel/store and redeemed in another significantly impacts the customer experience. This causes voucher purchases and redemption rates to plummet and all of the opportunities outlined above become unrealised. As customer expectations rise (especially the all-important millenials), the impact of offering a disconnected experience is only going to get worse.

This is one of the most common omni-channel challenges Australian and New Zealand retailers need to overcome in order to differentiate in an intensively competitive arena.

Getting the experience right - Retail Express & Shopify Plus

Retailers need to adopt a truly omni-channel based approach that unifies customer profiles and touch points, and provides customers with the opportunity to be recognised and rewarded across each and every channel. These connected experiences keep customers engaged and happy, which not only helps encourage repeat purchasing but also turns these customers into brand advocates. By adopting an integrated in-store and eCommerce software system such as the Retail Express and Shopify Plus integration, retailers can provide a truly omni-channel voucher experience with purchase and redemption being possible across all stores and online.

Sources:

  1. First Data
  2. Retail Touchpoints
  3. PYMNTS, Millenials Are Buying More Gift Cards Than Ever - For themselves
  4. Retail Touchpoints, Omnichannel Gift Card Programs Offer New Income Streams, Customer Data and Peace of Mind
  5. Shopify, How To Use Gift Cards to Grow Your Retail Business

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