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Gift cards have long been a consumer favorite when it comes to gifting, and this holiday season was no exception. A recent Blackhawk survey revealed that 52% of consumers surveyed reported being more likely to buy more gift cards this holiday season than in previous years. This comes after gift cards were already enjoying over a decade-long reign as the most requested holiday gift.
This year, consumers have faced unprecedented in-store closures and health concerns regarding in-person shopping due to the pandemic. As a result, eGift sales are up an impressive 44% year-over-year. Further, it is estimated that digital gift cards made up 20% of all gift card sales during the 2019 holiday season—and expectations are that 2020’s results will be even higher.
Beyond the impact of the pandemic, social media channels like Facebook, YouTube, and TikTok—which is especially popular among Gen Z consumers—also continue to greatly influence how products, including gift cards, are sold. In fact, 21% of users surveyed have purchased a product directly from such social media channels.
“Blackhawk is working with influencers and influence channels to see what [it] can do to best target and reach those people,” explained Lun Peng, Senior Director of Business Development – Asia Digital Partnerships at Blackhawk Network, who sat down with PaymentsJournal to talk about the use of digital gift cards and how they can be leveraged by retailers in-store.
In addition, many customers are purchasing digital gift cards for themselves. Some use digital gift cards as a budgeting tactic. “Others,” said Peng, “are buying Google Play cards for self-usage when they want to play a dedicated game.”
Blackhawk’s ScanIt: How it works
Online sales have skyrocketed in 2020, and gift cards are no exception. In the past few months, online sales of gift cards have seen substantial growth, specifically digital gift cards. But the power of digital gift cards can be taken beyond the computer or mobile phone—using digital gift cards in-store can provide unique benefits to both retailers and their customers.
Noting the increasing consumer interest in digital gift cards Blackhawk Network developed ScanIt as a way for merchants to easily stock and sell eGifts, please shoppers, and increase revenue.
Imagine a friend or family member’s birthday is coming up, and you know they’d love a gift card from their favorite store to celebrate. You stop by every retailer you know of that usually has the gift card in stock—and it’s sold out at every location, in every denomination.
Sound familiar? Many consumers have dealt with the frustrating reality of hunting down a gift card carousel or wall, only to have to settle for a gift card to another store or come up with a new gift idea altogether.
Blackhawk Network’s ScanIt enables retailers to eliminate such inventory issues by allowing customers to purchase a digital gift card in-store—whether or not a physical card is in stock. This benefits both customers, who leave with what they came for, and retailers themselves, which want to secure more sales.
ScanIt makes it possible for consumers to purchase virtual open-loop and closed-loop eGifts by scanning QR codes in-store with their smartphones, solving the problem of out of stock gift cards for good. ScanIt can also be leveraged to access non-gift card digital content such as electronic tickets, coupons, and rebates.
Shopper benefits of digital gift cards in-store
ScanIt does a lot more than solve inventory issues for consumers. Shoppers also reap the benefits of convenience, a breadth of payment options, and a personalized and seamless eGift card delivery.
Through ScanIt, buying a gift card is easier than ever. In the APAC region, customers aren’t required to interact with the store owner or cashier to make their purchase. Rather, after scanning the QR Code, they can select payment methods like PayPal or Square Cash and pay directly on their mobile device. Those who do want to go to the point of sale, such as customers purchasing additional items, have the option of showing the barcode at the register for the cashier to scan, then paying with cash or any other accepted form of payment.
Shoppers also benefit from a breadth of payment options. The payment options offered through ScanIt vary according to consumer preferences across the world. For example, ScanIt supports payment methods like Alipay and WeChat in Asia-Pacific countries (APAC).
Finally, delivery of the digital gift card is seamless and personal. It can be sent directly to the intended recipient via email, WhatsApp, text message, and other chatting apps. As a bonus, “[the buyer] can select a template like well wishes or happy birthday…. and apply all of that together in a gift card. They get it directly on their phones.”
Ultimately, ScanIt offers customers a simple way to find, purchase and deliver eGifts for either their own use or to send to someone as a gift.
Retailer benefits of digital gift cards in-store
For retailers, ScanIt can expand their gift card assortment without taking up additional space in-store. It also allows them to capture the lost sales that occur when their physical gift cards are out of stock.
The use of ScanIt means retailers are no longer bound to displaying their gift cards in a single location or set of locations at a gift card carousel or aisle end. Instead, they can leverage unique opportunities to upsell gift cards in various parts of the store and create co-marketing opportunities. One example is to offer a gaming digital gift card in the energy drink aisle that is offered at a discount if purchased at a specific denomination or by a certain date.
The use of QR codes make it possible for merchants to track valuable data insights. ScanIt does not store private customer data, but does collect actionable data that can boost merchant sales in the future. “We can show the merchant data so they know the penetration rate, how many people showed interest, and what is key to make sure the customer will [go through with] buying the gift card next time,” noted Peng.
These perks serve as revenue opportunities to merchants that want to expand into the lucrative eGift card market, increase their reach and distribution of digital cards, and enhance the overall customer experience.
Digital gift cards and eGifting as a whole are trending upward around the world, and accordingly. Blackhawk’s ScanIt enables retailers to meet customers at the right time, in the right shopping channels, and with the right eGift card product. The end result is happier customers and higher sales and revenue opportunities for merchants.
“All of this can be done through scanning the QR codes through a cashless payment. And this is what Blackhawk is trying to achieve globally,” concluded Peng.