Change is the only thing that’s constant in this world. In the gift-buying and gift-giving industry, this phrase holds water. There are so many changes now in the gift industry, which are more or less geared towards making the shopping process easier. Giving gifts can be very rewarding, but sometimes, it can also take a toll on you. It’s easy to feel the strain and anxiety of buying gifts when there are so many to buy, and you’re not even sure how and where to start. And many people simply don’t have the time to buy one.
Thankfully, there’s a solution. Brands are making the gifting process convenient through gift cards. These prepaid debit cards, issued by brands, allow the recipient to buy whatever they want in their physical or online stores.
Because it’s so convenient, many now choose to give their friends and family members gift cards instead of buying gifts for them—avoiding those awkward situations of giving them something they didn’t really want.
In this article, we’ll explore some exciting gift card trends and talk about why they’re so much better than buying gifts.
Gift Card Trends
1. Gift Cards As Employee Rewards
Businesses understand the importance and benefits of rewarding their employees—it leads to better work, performance, and loyalty. Traditionally rewards were given in the form of physical gifts and cash incentives. Today, businesses turn to gift cards.
The most popular form of rewarding employees is through dining and restaurant cards. Dining is a sought-after experience by most employees. After a grueling week, they treat themselves and their families to a well-deserved restaurant outing. With a dining gift card, they can have an even better experience and not worry about their budget.
The following are also popular gift card choices for employees:
- Retail/department store.
2. A Shift to Digital Gift Cards
Before the COVID-19 pandemic broke out, physical gift cards were preferred above digital gift cards.
Digital gift cards were popular before the worldwide lockdown, but not for shopping online. People saved their gift card codes in their phone wallets and when they shopped in-store, they would show the code on their phones, and sales representatives would input the details at checkout.
Even with all the convenience online stores offer, there’s nothing better than actually touching and fitting on the things you’ll buy with a gift card. Plus, many stores still have wider selections in their physical stores than their online counterparts.
However, with the pandemic, online shopping has become the norm. While many will still prefer a physical gift card, digital cards could see a rise in demand. Even if things go ‘back to normal,’ people’s shopping behaviors may forever be altered to a new way of doing things.
Gift cards aren’t just reserved for retail and dining, though. Software companies and gaming platforms regularly release gift cards to boost their sales and enjoy high rates of customer retention. And they make their gift cards available through various platforms. For example, you can earn free Steam gift cards at frugalforless.com.
3. Gift Cards Are Becoming Preferred Over Physical Gifts
Shoppers and gift recipients feel that gift cards are often more effective than physical gift-giving. Because of this, retailers have stepped up to the challenge by making available more gift cards.
From the recipient’s point of view, gift cards are more effective because they can choose exactly what they want. Sometimes, no matter how much thought the giver might have put into buying the gift, it may not be what the recipient wanted or needed. Where clothing is involved, the clothes won’t always fit or the recipient may have a similar garment already, meaning they have to go to the store for an exchange, anyway. With gift cards, it’s easy to avoid such situations strategically.
4. Gift Cards Are The New Cash-In-Hand
Gift cards are as equally effective as cash, so when gift-givers have to decide between the two, they’re often left confused. This is because a gift card is technically like cash. The recipient is basically taking money with them to buy something in-store with the card they received from a parent, friend, or other loved one.
Compared to cash, the only disadvantage of a gift card is that it limits where the recipient can redeem it, because they have to use it in a specific store. Brands are aware of this drawback, and some have responded by issuing gift cards that are redeemable anywhere—not just in their own stores—as long as the shop has credit and debit card facilities. But it’s best to be sure of where the person likes to shop that you’re buying the gift card for.
Another advantage a gift card has, is that giving cash would just be too informal. For example, you wouldn’t want to give your boss cash as a Christmas gift. In this case, like so many others, a gift card would be better appreciated.
5. A New Way Of International Gift-Giving
With so many families living dispersed all over the world, gift cards are the best option for them. Sending a physical gift overseas is expensive and it can get lost in transit.
An excellent alternative to remedy this is that families can now give each other gift cards for online shopping. That way, the recipient can buy whatever they want in their home country.
For example, Marc lives in the UK and has a grandmother in the United States. His grandmother wants to buy him a new laptop. But, because it’s unsafe to ship gadgets overseas, she can buy him a gift card from a tech company in the UK, and he can use the gift card to buy the best laptop to suit his needs. What’s more, Marc’s grandmother doesn’t need to worry about making sure she buys a laptop with the correct technical specifications—Marc can take care of it himself.
Gift cards, therefore, make international gift-giving so much easier.
Things You Should Know About Gift Cards
Now that you’re aware of gift card trends, there are some things you should know about gift cards. That way, you can make the best-informed decision when you’re ready to purchase one.
Retailers Want You To Use The Card
If you receive a gift card from your work, a friend, or a family member, and it expires because you never used it, the retailer loses nothing. They still made a decent profit as it was preloaded with money and they did not lose any merchandise in the process.
That being said, retailers want you to use that card. They have a chance of earning even more profit when you go in to buy with the gift card, because in all probability, you will buy something extra and be happy to pay in the difference.
Treat Your Gift Card Gently
Gift cards may be reused from one recipient to another, but this doesn’t mean you can just put it anywhere or be negligent in its care. Treat your gift cards as you would your debit or credit card. It is especially important not to damage the magnetic stripe. The magnetic stripe contains the bar code that’ll activate your card or read it when you make a purchase. Otherwise, your card may be rejected at the register, and the retailer won’t take responsibility for a damaged card.
Things To Consider When Giving Gift Cards
To ensure your gift card given to a friend or family member doesn’t end up wasted, consider the following:
The Cost: get an idea of the average price of items in the store you’re buying the gift card from. That way, you know the recipient can purchase at least one thing from the store with the gift card you’re giving them.
The Expiration Date: don’t forget to inform the recipient as to when the card expires. In doing so, the recipient will remember to use it before the card ends up useless.
Give the Receipt to The Recipient: in rare cases, the recipient will have to prove their gift card wasn’t stolen. Also, having the receipt will help them sort out any issues with the retailer if the card is faulty.
Check If The Card Can Be Registered: if a retailer has a platform where purchased gift cards can be registered, it means that even if the card is lost, the credit will still be available and redeemable.
With a gift card, you never have to scratch your head over what to get and whether it will be useful to the recipient—let them choose what they want. But always make sure you know where they buy and what their preferences are. And add a hand-written note to personalize it and make it extra special.
Whether you’re an employer looking for effective incentives to motivate your staff, a mom scratching her head over which games her teenage son will prefer, or a big sister who just wants to spoil her younger sibling, gift cards are the perfect answer.
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