How gift cards are money in your pocket and advertising in your consumer’s wallet



As a small business you have a lot to think about, lots of product to account for, going in and out of your store. Hopefully more going out, right? Often I see that small business doesn’t focus enough on the most profitable square foot of selling space in your store.

What is this space you ask? Well that’s your gift card sales space. Too many merchants I visit do not even display their gift cards much less have their staff remind patrons about their gift cards. The result is when I need a gift card I usually just go the grocery store and buy there. But it doesn’t need to be that way.

My advice to these businesses is to think about their gift card as a product, because it is. Let’s look at three quick benefits gift cards provide.

  • CardHub estimates show that more than $44 billion in gift cards are never redeemed. That’s money for nothing. Even if the gift card is redeemed, at the very minimum, you are getting a bit of cash flow float from each gift card sale until the card is redeemed. Both are helpful to any business.
  • Second, it’s like your customers are pre-paying for a product. This is great from an inventory and cash flow management perspective, giving you and your business access to interest free money today to grow for tomorrow.
  • Third, you are basically guaranteeing yourself a future sale, and many times that future sale comes in the form of two. Your patron buys a gift card today, and often when that gift card returns either with a new patron, or the original purchaser, they are bringing a shopping or eating buddy. Kazam! Three sales!

Now let’s talk about a few suggestions I have for small businesses when starting their gift card program (or restarting after reading this article.)

1. Location, Location, Location

  • First, keep your gift cards visible. People can’t buy something that they don’t know exists. Am I right?
  • Second, make sure that gift card recipients can find your store based on the information on your gift card. Depending on how easy it is to search for your store on line, you might want to include your physical or web address on your gift card.

2. Brand Awareness

  • When creating your gift card, think about representing your brand well. Many times it’s cheaper to get a pre-designed card that you can throw a black logo or name on, but think about it, this is your brand, your business, show it well. I always recommend making your card reflect the image that you’ve created for your business.

3. Support Staff

  • Support your brand with the right staff and in store action. Nothing bugs me more than getting attracted into a new merchant via a gift card or offer and finding sub-par service and an apathetic staff. That business, by not addressing the finer points of supporting their customers just prevented themselves from earning a loyal client because they didn’t take the time to make sure their marketing efforts would pay off. Yes, gift cards are part of your marketing plan. Make sure your staff is trained well to represent your brand and treat customers like their livelihood depends on them, as it probably does.

Remember these three things can help more small businesses to compete with their larger store completion.



Here’s the latest news shaping the commerce and payments ecosystem. These feature articles tackle subjects including mobile payments, EMV, and credit card processing to arm you with the best knowledge to run your business.


The road to smarter, faster, easier payments is paved with information, and MerchantAdvantage is your vehicle to get you there. Our monthly newsletter is packed with resources to help you grow, improve and secure your business. Fasten your seatbelt. Let’s go.


Alerts share news from the leading card networks—covering what you want and need to know about processing, security and operations.

Built for success.