6 Irresistible Incentives to Get Customers to Purchase Gift Cards During the Holidays


It’s not usually difficult to convince people buy gift cards. Thanks to their convenience and versatility, gift cards are consistently ranked as one of the top things that people give and would like to receive during the holidays.

However, given that we’re approaching the busiest shopping time of the year, you likely have plenty of competitors in the gift card department. Differentiating your gift cards and winning over shoppers can be a bit more challenging, so you have to be creative with how you market them.

Need help on how to do this? Here are a few ideas on giving customers that extra push they need to purchase gift cards from you:


Incentivize shoppers through philanthropy.

A good way to incentivize shoppers is to show them that their money is going towards a good cause. If you’re planning to give back this holiday season, consider donating a portion of your gift card sales to charity. In addition helping the less fortunate, this move could also increase gift card sales. Consumers are more inclined to purchase from companies that take part in philanthropic efforts.

Research has shown that 87% of shoppers consider corporate social responsibility in their purchase decisions. In addition, when presented with comparable price and quality, 91% of consumers are likely to switch to brands that are aligned with a good cause.

gap gift

Have a look at what Gap is doing. The retailer is implementing an initiative wherein 2% of gift card sales are donated to nonprofit organizations such as CARE or Communities in Schools. See if you can do something similar in your business.


Enroll them in your loyalty program.

If you have a rewards program, find ways to make your loyalty efforts and gift cards work together. A common tactic is to invite customers to your loyalty program when they purchase gift cards. Doing so could help you hit two birds with one stone: you get to increase gift card sales while capturing customer information and increasing the chances of repeat visits.
One company that does this really well is Starbucks. Every Starbucks card doubles an invitation to the coffee shop’s rewards program. Users can just register their card online, and they can reload the card and use it to get perks.


Not offering reloadable gift cards? Bring up your loyalty program anyway. One thing you could do is give customers points or rewards for their gift card purchase, and then invite them to gain more points or redeem their earned loyalty on their next visit.


Let shoppers customize their gift cards.

Customization can be a great hook for selling gift cards. Since these cards can sometimes feel impersonal, allowing shoppers to add their unique touch to their gift cards could be just the nudge they need to complete the purchase.

At Williams-Sonoma, for example, shoppers who purchase digital gift cards can upload a photo of their choice and use that as their gift card design.

This is a great example that you can apply even if you’re not selling eGift cards yet. If you’re offering physical cards, you could still help them customize their purchase by printing out personalized gift certificates or letting shoppers customize the gift packaging.


Package your gift cards nicely.

Presentation is key when it comes to gift cards, and during the holiday season, how the cards are packaged can actually be a make or break factor in consumers’ purchase decisions.

Remember that people are incredibly busy this time of the year, so if you could make the cards look very presentable without any effort on their part, you’ll earn extra points in their book.


One of our favorite examples of gift card packaging comes from Sephora. Every gift card purchased from them comes in a special compact mirror and is placed inside a classy paper bag complete with a nice red ribbon. 

Try to follow the same route in your gift card efforts. You don’t have to invest in fancy materials to make your cards presentable. There are plenty of inexpensive DIY methods that can do the trick.

If you need inspiration, head over to Pinterest and check out all the creative things that you can try when packing your cards.  

giftcard incentives pin


Sell them at discounted rates

Still having trouble moving gift cards off the shelves? Consider tacking on a limited-time discount on your cards. You could, for example, sell $30 gift cards for $25.

This isn’t necessarily an unprofitable move. Studies have shown that consumers tend to spend beyond the original value of the gift card when they redeem it, so you could still turn a profit even if you sell your cards at a slightly lower rate.


Remind people just how convenient gift cards are

Sometimes, you don’t have to push aggressive offers or rewards to incentivize shoppers to buy gift cards. In certain situations, the convenience of gift cards is enticing enough. So don’t forget to remind customers about the inherent benefits of these cards.

For instance, if you encounter a shopper who’s having a hard time deciding what to purchase, you can bring up the fact that you sell gift cards. Ditto for dealing with customers who are in a rush. As we mentioned earlier, many consumers are pressed for time during the holidays, so you can always remind them that your cards always look presentable and are “gift-ready.”


Your turn

How are you encouraging customers to purchase gift cards? Let us know in the comments.


About Francesca Nicasio

Francesca Nicasio is Vend's Retail Expert and Content Strategist. She writes about trends, tips, and other cool things that enable retailers to increase sales, serve customers better, and be more awesome overall. She's also the author of Retail Survival of the Fittest, a free eBook to help retailers future-proof their stores. Connect with her on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Google+.

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