28 February 2022
What it really takes to run a successful gift card program in the UK (the truth might surprise you!)
The GCVA’s State of the Nation 2021 report says that 76.3% of respondents have purchased a gift card over the past three years. The £7bn UK gift card market grew by an estimated 4.6% in 2020. Every town or city wants and needs a local gift card to get their fair share of the market but with so much on your plate already- from developing vibrancy and inclusion to building identity and resilience in your town or city-it’s natural to wonder if you have the resources to implement and operate a gift card program. Here, we reveal what it really takes to run a successful program.
1. Tech, not time. Towns and cities tend to think they need lots of extra time and people to launch a gift card program. In truth, they need tech, not time. Experts estimate that a paper gift voucher scheme needs a full time staff member to deal with all of the administration. Go for a high tech gift card program and you’ve got a fully managed solution, from orders to fulfilment, reducing the time needed to introduce and manage your gift card program.
Downtown Peterborough saved hours each week when they switched to our high tech Town & City Gift Card program.
2. A great network of businesses. The key to running a successful gift card program is having a great network of businesses. We bet you already work hard to create vibrant community hubs, working closely with your businesses, and by using your network, you can spread the word about your program and get merchants signed up.
The steering group for the Minehead Gift Card included local business owners, to drive interest and involvement from the business community.
3. A wider view. In 2021, towns and cities are focused on regeneration, vibrancy and building the town or city of the future. What you really need to run a gift card program is the ability to see the many and varied uses of the program to meet these aims.
The Knowsley Gift Card is part of a masterplan for the future of 3 town centres up to 2030, and will be used to develop the district’s night time economy, as part of their plan to create vibrant towns.
4. Social savvy. 77% of the UK population have access to social media, equivalent to 53 million active users in 2021. With social media, you can inspire, educate and encourage consumers to buy and use your town or city gift card. You don’t necessarily need a huge following, or Jedi like social media skills, rather the commitment to making social a key communication tool.
Lynchburg used Instagram to create an explainer video, to encourage redemptions. They also reminded businesses to post stories about how the gift card could be spent with them.
5. Perseverance. You don’t need a full time staff member purely to run your gift card program, you don’t even need the biggest and best town or city, but what you do need is perseverance. Maybe that local employer can’t buy your gift card this year, there’s always next year. Perhaps that customer segment is still yet to buy a gift card, a different offer could appeal. With perseverance, you can continue to improve your program to be as good as it can be.
Enniskillen in Northern Ireland persevered with their corporate orders, increasing sales by 37% in 2020.
6. Creative thinking. There are set points in the year, like Christmas, when everyone wants a gift card but with creative thinking, you can make your gift card program relevant all year round. As well as occasions, creative ideas could make your card appealing to different demographics, for b2b audiences and for a whole array of different uses.
Belfast used city centre experiences, themes, and key moments of celebration throughout the year to drive sales of their gift card.
7. Relationships with employers. 81% of UK companies offer non-cash rewards to staff and b2b gift card sales grew by 26.3% in 2020. Time and time again we’ve seen just how valuable corporate orders are to local gift card programs. A successful gift card program means developing relationships you have with target organisations, and being willing to form new relationships too.
Barnsley Council encouraged two of the biggest local employers to place corporate orders at the time of the launch of the Barnsley Gift Card.
8. A finger on the pulse. From local blogs to the newspaper that everyone in your district reads, having your finger on the pulse of who’s influential in your area will contribute massively to the success of your program. And if you don’t know, it’s easy enough to find out. Ask people how they get their news, who they follow on Twitter and Instagram, what papers they read. These are the influencers you want in your sphere.
When Ireland’s most enterprising town launched their Carndonagh Gift Card, targeted PR saw local and national coverage.
9. Vision. Last but most certainly not least, you’ll need vision. A vision of a town or city that champions local, where local shopping is attractive and easy and a place where pounds stay local instead of disappearing out of the district. Where you lead, others will follow.
Town & City Gift Card programs are running all over the UK. Do you have what it takes to join them?