In the midst of the challenges brought by a global pandemic, digital services have been the order of the day. Shifts to remote work, remote learning and remote just about everything brought about a distinct appreciation for the role of digital in our lives. The pandemic has also served as a catalyst for technology innovation and new ways to use existing solutions, and the payments ecosystem is poised to benefit from these changes.
Gift cards have always been a welcome way for companies and individuals to express appreciation and show their support. And today, digital gifting is taking on new power and purpose.
Rewards Beyond the Holidays
Historically, holidays have been a time when companies express their appreciation to employees by giving them gift cards, and the 2020 holiday season was no different. What is changing is the frequency with which companies are engaging their employees – with digital gifting becoming a year-round priority that extends well beyond traditional holiday campaigns. Companies are rewarding their employees more often and for the little things – a job well done on a presentation or a great customer service – by giving digital gift cards to help boost morale.
Gift cards—whether digital or physical—remain enormously popular and appreciated by employees, who value the kind gesture their employers show beyond the ‘thank you’ email or pat on the back. Many companies were already rewarding employees with gift cards on occasions other than the holidays before the pandemic, and the increased focus on employee recognition means gift cards will remain a popular means of recognizing valued team members for the foreseeable future.
While many companies have been navigating business and operational challenges, they have not lost sight of the frontline individuals serving their communities or wavered from their commitment to continue supporting them.
Restaurants have always done a stellar job tying various promotions to gift card purchases that support charitable organizations. And with so many restaurants needing to accelerate cash flow amid a pandemic, doing so provides an opportunity to raise awareness of their philanthropic efforts. One leading casual dining restaurant set out to expand its COVID-19 response efforts to better support its local communities while driving brand engagement and sales. The restaurant chain devised a virtual gift card campaign through which a consumer could purchase a digital gift card that also funded the donation and delivery of a free meal to the community’s frontline healthcare workers. The restaurant chain generated significant revenue at a time when in-person dining was limited and also donated more than 5,000 meals to frontline workers it its community – a win-win for all involved.
Connecting Entities for a Purpose
Gift cards can also serve as the unexpected link between the public and private sectors and become a catalyst to achieve a bigger objective. Public sector entities may have the resources to support the cause, but they may not always have the right vehicles readily available to motivate a consumer to pursue a desired call to action.
At Fiserv we helped support a remarkable story for a client that brings this idea into focus. Many families across the world are eligible for free school meals, and many children rely on those lunches and snacks each day. But when schools began to close because of a rise in COVID-19 cases, those meals could not be served to the families who needed them most. Leveraging a B2B gift card storefront via a large grocery chain’s website, an organization was able to distribute more than 100,000 gift cards within a matter of hours to families of school-aged children that previously would have been eligible for a subsidized meal. The project generated millions in gift card sales for the grocer, but more importantly, was a way to quickly and securely distribute funds to food-insecure families.
The gift card has evolved into much more than a piece of plastic. Today’s gift cards are powerful and purposeful forms of branded currency and can be utilized in creative ways to benefit both the entities that issue them and the people that give and receive them.