3 Ways to Make More Money with Gift Cards

Make more money this holiday season with gift cards

Cris Willis

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Many retailers get so busy this time of the year they forget that NOW is the time to put Gift Card Marketing at the top of your list.  A successful Gift Card program will attract new customers, build loyalty and brand awareness, provide customer service, and add $ to your business’s bottom line.

Studies have found that most customers spend more money than is on the gift card.  According to a survey by First Data, “respondents who received either a plastic or a virtual gift card said that they spend an average of $23.41 beyond the original value of the gift card.”

This same study found that “51% of respondents said that receiving a gift card prompted them to visit a store more often than they would have otherwise.”

December is the month that most gift cards are purchased.  Most merchants generate anywhere from 25% to 50% of their gift card sales during the Christmas season.

Here are 3 Ways to Make More $ with Gift Cards this Season

In-Store Displays and Sales Training

Last-minute shoppers are greatly influenced by store display and signage.  Be sure to have your Gift Cards front and center at the register and throughout the store in focal display areas.   Make sure they are visible and definitely increase the number of gift card displays in your store for the next several weeks.

Train your associates to proactively sell your Gift Cards in the store.  While some customers will walk into your store and buy a gift card on their own, many won’t.  Your associates need to be trained on how and when to sell them.

Gift Cards get a bad wrap about not being personal, but they are still one of the number one asked or items on Christmas lists.  Make sure your associates are trained to understand that gift cards are convenient for buyers and receivers; they allow the recipients to choose what they want and that people genuinely like to receive gift cards.

If a customer is stumped and just does not know what to get someone, or if the item they want to purchase is out of stock right now, be sure your associates are suggesting a Gift Card to your store as the perfect gift.  Plus, with every customer, have your associate ask, “Who else is on your list?” A Gift Card may be the perfect gift for someone else on their Christmas list that they had not even been thinking about.

Bottom Line….Be proactive about selling Gift Cards in your store!  Talk to your staff about this today!

Promotions & Loyalty

Now is an excellent time to offer a promotion on Gift Cards or Gift Certificates to your store.  This will drive traffic to your store after Christmas and throughout January.

Gift Cards are a great reward for your customers.  Whether you offer a program based on the number of purchases or purchase amounts, offering a free $5 or $10 gift card as a promotion is a nice incentive to thank your customers and keep them shopping with you.

A very effective sales strategy is to use Gift Cards as a carrot to upsell your customers.  If you offer a free $20 Gift Card after spending a certain amount, they are more likely to grab a few extra items to meet that threshold.  And, if they end up giving that Gift Card to someone else as a gift, that might be a new customer for you.

Because of the power of human perception, even the slightest discount on a Gift Card can make it more appealing to customers.  You could offer a $50 Gift Card for $45 the week of Christmas to turn those last-minute shoppers into buyers.

To increase your January store traffic, you can offer a gift certificate or coupon that is good in January with a certain purchase amount during the last week or two of December.

Whatever promotion you choose, make sure your staff is aware of it to sell it and explain it to your customers.

Sell & Market your Gift Cards Across all Your Channels

 You need to communicate about and sell your Gift Cards on your website, through email campaigns, and across all social media sites.

Your store needs to offer digital and physical Gift Cards.  Digital Gift Cards are a great way to up your omnichannel strategy and are necessary for this day and age.

From now to the end of the year, you should have a Gift Card banner front and center on your website so visitors are aware of them and can purchase them right there.

From now through Christmas, you need to have something about Gift Cards in every email.  Offer and explain any promotions you have going on and provide a link to your digital Gift Card.  If you do not have a digital Gift Card, explain how they can purchase your Gift Cards via the phone, BOPIS, etc.

From now through Christmas, talk about your Gift Cards across all of your social media.  Post images of your cards.  You need to build awareness of your Gift Card program throughout all of your forms of marketing and advertising.  You might also consider running a campaign on social media that gives away Gift Cards.  Invite people to submit some kind of holiday content (this will vary depending on what kind of business you are in) with a hashtag that is specific to your business or photos of what they would purchase with a Gift Card from your store.  Then you can award the best submission or the person with the most “likes” or “shares” with a Gift Card from your store.


With stock shortages, slow deliveries, and the fear of crowded stores, Gift Cards are going to be an attractive option this next week or so.  In fact, 31% of shoppers plan on giving more Gift Cards this year.  So, make sure that Gift Cards have a prominent place in your store, on your website, and across all of your social media sites.

The countdown is on, and Christmas is right around the corner.  Remember, if you feel overwhelmed and could use a daily dose of inspiration, hope, and retail how-tos, be sure to watch Bob Negen on Facebook each morning at 9:30 am eastern.  Each day he will host “Your Retail Holiday Hotline.” If you miss it live, you can always go back and watch it anytime.

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Cris Willis

Cris is a business coach for independent retailers. With 25 years of experience owning and operating a family business, she now guides retail owners to make smarter decisions regarding inventory management, marketing, sales training, product assortment, and more. When not at work, she loves to travel the country with her husband in their motorhome.

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