Gift certificates are being touted as a popular way for small businesses to continue earning revenue during the closures and social distancing procedures enacted due to the coronavirus pandemic. However, selling gift certificates can help a variety of businesses increase sales no matter the situation or time of year.
Selling Gift Certificates
If you’re interested in selling gift certificates but don’t know where to start, here’s a guide.
How to Get Gift Certificates
If you want to sell physical gift certificates for your business, you have a few main options — you can design and print them yourself using a program like Photoshop, or you can use a template from a printing service like Vistaprint and order them. Whichever route you choose, just add the essential information like what each card is redeemable for and when it can be used.
You can also get up and running quickly by selling online gift certificates, which will be covered later in the post.
Differences Between Gift Certificates and Gift Cards
Gift certificates differ from gift cards because they are usually only redeemable one time and aren’t generally reloadable. They can cover a set amount of money or a specific type of product or service, like a free lunch or a spa service of the person’s choice. Gift cards only operate in dollar amounts and can often be used multiple times. This option usually takes more time to get started, but you might consider offering both at some point.
How to Record and Track Gift Certificates
If you’re going to offer gift certificates, you should have a way for recording and tracking which ones are sold and used so you can prevent fraud and knock-offs. The most basic way to do this is through a number system. Basically, each certificate should have a unique number on it so that you can check off when they’re used and make sure there aren’t duplicates. If you have a POS system that works with gift certificates or cards, you might even include a barcode that you can scan to make sure a certificate is original.
Additionally, avoid placing gift certificates on display in your store or posting exact pictures of them on your website so people can’t easily copy and edit them. You should also make sure they have a unique design, potentially even using some kind of hidden element like a watermark to make them specific to your business.
Rules Surrounding Gift Certificates
Laws surrounding gift cards and certificates can vary from state to state. However, businesses are generally not allowed to refuse to honor a gift card unless the customer violates a term that’s clearly laid out in the terms and conditions of the card, like presenting the card after a clearly marked expiration date. You must also clearly outline any terms and conditions on the card and avoid changing those without the customer’s knowledge.
Basically, if you want to offer gift certificates, explain exactly how they are allowed to be used and make sure you notate any limitations on the card itself, like if the card is only redeemable for a certain type of item or during certain days of the week. Place a clear expiration date (which should be at least a few years away) on the front of the card. And then make sure your staff knows how to abide by all of those rules.
Selling Gift Certificates Online
Selling online gift cards may currently be an especially attractive option for businesses in areas with very restricted foot traffic. However, it can also help companies that operate mainly online in general. If you sell on platforms like Etsy or Shopify, each of those services has their own process for creating and offering gift cards. So go to your shop dashboard to create those.
If you have your own store or want to offer gift certificates on another platform, you can offer them as a free download on your site. Simply add them as you would any other product. Then at checkout, have customers share their email address and your can send them a copy of the gift certificate that they can either print or access on their mobile device. You can even automate this part of the process through your sales automation software if you have one.
Is your website set up to add products? Do you accept payments? If not, start offering gift cards quickly anyway. Add a “Buy Now” button to your website. Or use a WordPress widget. And add ecommerce functionality to your site. Then either send gift cards via email to each customer as they purchase. Or get them to send out automatically when that product is purchased. Do this for multiple types of gift certificates. For example, a restaurant might offer a $20 gift certificate for a free lunch for two, and a $40 gift certificate for a free dinner for two.
How to Boost Sales of Gift Certificates
Plan to offer gift cards? And make sure customers know that they’re available. And how to purchase them. Want to sell in-store gift cards? Place display signs and promotional materials where customers will see. For example, does your restaurant offer gift certificates to boost sales during the coronavirus outbreak. Put visuals all around the carryout area. And they potentially go outside the storefront. So people see it as they pass by.
Online, feature gift certificates prominently. Put them on your website and social media profiles. Some customers remain employed. They look for ways to help their favorite businesses stay afloat. Make it easy for them to buy online. Or to stop in for a carryout order. They may want to support you. Additionally, post on social media. It helps you gain a larger audience. Get others to share your offer with people they know.
Offer discounts or promotions to entice customers even more. For example, include a gift certificate with each order over a certain amount. Or offer a two-for-one promotion. Use it to increase the amount that each customer is likely to spend.