Gift Card Popularity Continues to Rise; Holiday Usage Expected to Increase. ISIS Direct Offers Reasons Business Should Provide Valued Service

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According to a 2010 study, gift card usage will rise this holiday season. A majority of adults say they prefer gift cards and more than three quarters of shoppers say they will buy at least one gift card. ISIS Direct also gives six reasons businesses should provide gift cards services.

There’s never been a better time for merchants to consider offering gift cards to their customers.

Interest in gift cards continues to rise, according to a new study by the National Retail Federation (NFR). The new research says consumers will spend more on gift cards this holiday season than in 2009. The NRF study shows that Americans will spend an average of $145.61 on gift cards, and total gift card spending is expected to reach $24.78 billion.

“There’s never been a better time for merchants to consider offering gift cards to their customers,” says Tony Norrie, General Manager for ISIS Direct, a direct seller of specialized and personalized merchant services. “People like giving them and they like receiving them. And the recent Federal regulations make them even more desirable for consumers and will continue to enhance their image in the mind of the buying public.”

In August, the “Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure Act (CARD)” went into effect. CARD stipulates that prepaid cards, gift cards and gift certificates cannot expire within five years of activation or unless the terms of the expiration are clearly disclosed. The law also bans dormancy fess, inactivity fees or service fees on gift cards unless there has been no activity in a 12-month period and the issuer clearly discloses all fees before the gift card is purchased. Fees are limited to one per month.

The NFR survey indicates the average amount spent on gift cards is expected to go up this year to $41.48, more than the $39.80 spent last year. And according to the survey, 77.3 percent of shoppers will buy at least one gift card. Again this year, gift cards are the most popular and most requested item this holiday season; 57 percent of adults say they prefer to receive gift cards.

“Many merchants just assume that gift cards are only for the largest, national retailers,” says Norrie. “But any business can provide this convenience to their customers. Having the gift card option is an excellent marketing tool as well as solid revenue stream.”

ISIS Direct provides the following six profitable reasons businesses should sell gift cards:

1. It’s upfront money—advanced cash flow to your business. A customer pays for the card in advance, but redeems for products or services at a later time.

2. They build customer loyalty and help insure repeat business. If a customer buys your gift card, they will obviously return to your business to use that card.

3. Gift cards increase your customer base. Because many people buy gift cards to give to others, those who receive the card will likely use that card in your place of business. This gives you a new customer, as well as a chance at their future business beyond the value of the card.

4. They are an excellent “word-of-mouth” method of marketing. Those giving your gift card are promoting your business, helping to increase awareness of your products or services.

5. Studies show customers using in-store gift cards spend more than the face amount of the card.

6. Not all gift cards are redeemed and not all the money on the card is used, so that’s additional profit for your bottom line.

Gift card service can be implemented in almost any size and every kind of business with very little start-up costs and low monthly fees. The cards are personalized, and can be reprogrammed and reused. For more information: http://www.Isis-360.com.

About ISIS Direct/Certified Payment Processing
ISIS Direct is the newest sales entity for Certified Payment Processing (CPP), a full-service provider of electronic payment equipment for processing purchases made by debit and credit cards, as well as checks and online purchases, in addition to a range of other specialized merchant services. For nearly 20 years, CPP has helped businesses increase revenue while controlling costs. Now with three sales entities—TransTech Merchant Group, Summit Merchant Solutions and ISIS Direct—CPP has more than 30,000 active merchants and transactions of $3 billion. CPP is headquartered in Dallas, Texas.

Source: National Retail Federation (http://www.nrf.com)

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Bill Prickett, APR