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Gift Cards – An Overlooked Revenue Stream

While offering gift cards in store is a convenience for customers, savvy retailers are also viewing them as a revenue center. Third party gift cards are actually one of the highest profit centers per square foot on the sales floor. Statistics show that the average person spends over $300 per year on gift cards; this is largely due to the fact that gift cards are the most requested gift for the last 12 years straight. This industry has boomed to over $160 billion in annual sales. In order to drive gift card sales, the first tactic is to look at the display itself. Is it worn out and ready for a refresh? Is it fully stocked with up to date cards? While assessing the fixture, one should also consider the size and placement of the display. It’s an important sales tactic to present the gift card category to the customer with as large of a display as your space can accommodate in a prominent well-trafficked area at or near the front of the store. This allows for maximum shopping content…

Preventing Gift Card Fraud

Every couple weeks or so I get a call or email about a store that had fallen victim to a gift card scam. These fraud attempts are inevitable, however prevention is possible! Fraudsters are clever, convincing, intimidating and even threatening. They change their approach and scam type frequently until something works. If only that intellect and energy were used for good. One of the scams I hear about often is, an employee fields a call from an individual that claims to be someone from Visa, Blackhawk, POS Vendor or even a person of rank within their own organization. The person calling would then claim that they need to test the system for proper data transmission, or some other reason and request to have a certain card or cards activated and be told what the card numbers are so they can verify the codes. Once they get those activated card numbers they can then deplete the card funds for their personal use. It’s important to train staff members that NO ONE not even a government official will call with any such…

Various Gift Cards in a Pile

It’s A Gift Card Kinda Party

Hooray, 2018 is here! 2017 feels like it went quicker than a Scaramucci tour in the White House. Even though retrospective perception of time seems like a flash of light, that doesn’t mean much did not occur. The retail world is a constant day after day battle of retaining customers, attracting new and staying ahead of competition. It takes a conscious effort to take a look back at events, accomplishments and glance ahead, so here is a 500-word 3-minute snapshot. We all got our You Know What’s handed to us over the last couple years by EMV (Europay, MasterCard & Visa), yep those little chips embedded in credit/debit cards. Thanks to the EMV compliance mandate thousands of businesses suffered losses from the shift in fraud liability. What happens is repugnant no-good swindling victimizers take stolen credit cards or card information and purchase as many gift cards as possible. Why gift cards? Because they are a form of currency, and are basically cash. By the time a card owner realizes they have become a casualty, the thief already has untraceable funds.…

Gift Cards

Build Your Brand Through Gift Cards

At the Blackhawk Summit, Blackhawk CEO Talbott Roche’s Summit opening talk revolved around Branded Value and she often referred back to a study Blackhawk recently conducted on it. If you aren’t sure what that is, Blackhawk defined it in their study as “a branded object of value that can be accepted in payment or exchange for another product or value”. For independent retailers, branded value gift cards are the ones with your store’s name on them. While Roche was talking more broadly to card partners and retailers who could have their cards sold through the Blackhawk Network, many of the ideas she mentioned applied to small, independent retailers looking at custom gift cards as well. Cards with your brand’s name on them give customers the opportunity to gift an experience in your store. Whether that customer likes you store because you are right on price, customer service, or product assortment, offering a gift card branded for you helps your customers encourage their friends and family to visit your store. Blackhawk’s research showed 91% of people trust their favorite brand somewhat…

Credit card chip as a pad lock

EMV…The New 4 Letter Word in Retail

Credit card fraud has been an issue for a long time. EMV chip technology is designed to minimize card-present counterfeit fraud. EMV chips create a cryptogram with every transaction, a temporary dynamic transaction code. If card data is stolen via data breach (see Target 2013, or Home Depot 2014) the information cannot be used to create counterfeit cards because the cryptogram expires. So why are more secure transactions such a heated issue for retailers? The EMV mandate shifted the liability onto the merchant, which is costing retailers tons of money in charge-backs. Many businesses have the equipment necessary for EMV transactions, but becoming compliant with EMV standards is proving more difficult than expected. Acquirers, processors and POS providers are inundated with stores needing the certifications to turn EMV on. Testing requirements have been streamlined from 35 scripts to only 14, however there are still countless vulnerable retailers out there waiting for their equipment to be certified. Since retailers are now burdened with the liability of fraudulent charges, individuals committing fraud are relentlessly targeting merchants that are not EMV compliant. One…

Large gift card display

Where are the gift cards!?!?

If you’re like me, and I’m sure plenty of you are, you procrastinate shopping for holidays. Or get so wrapped up in the day-to-day you forget about important events, such as Mother’s Day. Yes, I forgot about Mother’s Day. I know! I’m a bad husband and son; I’ve already come to terms with this. So it’s Saturday and Mother’s Day is tomorrow and I have no time to shop, nor any idea of what I would even shop for if I had a little extra time, which I didn’t. I needed a plan and I needed it quick. So I devise a plan to gift a $50 gift card to my Mom and wife along with a Mother’s Day card, some flowers and a nice home cooked brunch. I’m thinking this is great, I just saved my “you know what”! With that I’m off to the local grocery store because it’s really close and I’m confident it’s a one-stop-shop for all my needs. I have a small window of time to gather my goods, get back home and put everything…

Sliders: Grow Bigger & More Important

Photo sizes for digital marketing has grown dramatically. For older websites, photo size requirements were smaller, so some images must change or they will become blurry after enlarging. Not sure what I mean? Take a look: Why’s This Happening? 1. Retina screens: Even when 2 screens are the same size, the number of pixels increased in devices with retina screens for a more detailed image. 2. TV screens are used more for online viewing. 3. The pixel count for TV screens and desktop computers continues to increase. 4. Cameras on mobile phones take bigger and more detailed photos. Why do responsive images need to be bigger when mobile screens are smaller? One image needs to meet all requirements for all devices. While mobile screens are still smaller than desktop screens they could be viewed on a retina or tv screen. What should your sliders be about? Anything in your store that you want customers to know about: Community/Charity events: Food drives, employee athletes/heroic acts or awards, sponsored school events, fundraisers, holiday events, open house, apples for students, fund raising coupon books, hot dogs in the parking lot,…

Gift Card Culture

As a busy consumer, I love the convenience that gift cards offer me. During this past holiday season, I received four of them. As the giver of gift cards, it allows me to quickly buy a present for someone, but also tailor the gift card to the receiver’s interests showing them I care about what they like through the type of card I give them. As the receiver, it allows me to pick out exactly what I want. Even though the major holiday season is over, I just bought a gift card yesterday. With Valentine’s Day coming up, and birthdays, weddings and anniversaries happening throughout the year, gift cards never go out of season. I also buy gift cards for myself. For example, instead of leaving a credit card open on my iTunes account, I buy gift cards each month so I can better monitor how much I’m spending. It allows me to set a budget and not go over-board buying music or books. Once my gift card runs out, then I’m finished spending for that month. As a consumer,…