6 ways to prepare for a holly jolly holiday gift card season this year
Now is a great time to reflect on last year’s gift card sales. Holiday seasons can be naughty or nice for restaurants and retailers—and if the holiday season was naughty because it was too hard to navigate reports, you had a fraud instance or sales just weren’t where you wanted them to be, a provider switch is probably in order.
With just 25 days between Black Friday and Christmas this year, you need a gift card program that delivers results, and a new partner that can make this holiday season truly nice. Here are six ways restaurants can ensure they’re prepared to be live by November 1.
1) Get access to gift card data
For a successful transition, the first thing you need is access to your gift card data. Check the fine print of your contract to see if your current provider is holding your data hostage. In a number of cases, previous providers have charged merchants tens of thousands of dollars to be granted full access. Another issue is time, as it has taken as much as several months for some customers to obtain their gift card data. Your current provider may also give you a cutoff date, so it’s important to have access to all of your data before the switch.
2) Test the tech and work with the team
From marketing to operations, each department needs to be involved in the switch. Marketing should update all creative and website landing pages with current branding and the latest information. Finance should make sure that it receives all of the reporting needed. IT should conduct thorough testing to confirm that all card numbers and liability have been migrated. This testing is best done in a lab environment to ensure that your POS is supported and that everything works without disrupting in-house operations.
3) Replenish card inventory
Ordering gift cards requires considerable lead time. You should determine your current inventory levels and make sure that all language and branding on the cards is up to date. If you need to place an order, keep in mind that the period leading up to the holidays is very busy for card manufacturers. Proper planning will enable all sales channels to have a sufficient quantity of cards by the time sales begin to pick up in mid-November.
4) Deliver a frictionless customer experience
Since 2017, off-premise has grown at nearly triple the rate of restaurant traffic overall, according to Technomic’s 2018 Next-Level Off-Premise study. With restaurant customers ordering online more than ever, they expect to be able to redeem their gift cards at checkout. If you already have an online ordering integration with your current gift card provider, make sure that it will work once you switch. Verify that everything is streamlined and configured correctly. If you don’t already have an online ordering integration, a new one will require a longer lead time to be built out. Your customers should be able to redeem their gift cards the way they prefer while setting up your processes for long-term success.
5) Add sales channels to boost revenue
Shoppers appreciate convenience, especially during the busy holiday shopping season. One way to make things easier and extend your brand’s presence beyond your locations is by offering e-gift cards. If your current provider works with a third party to offer them, find out whether your new provider likewise integrates with that third party. You’ll also want to know the payment processor and which advanced fraud filters are in place.
Third-party retailers are another convenient sales channel, making gift cards readily available to shoppers at grocery and big-box stores. These third parties are responsible for 50% of all gift card sales for restaurants using that channel, according to Paytronix’s 2018 Annual Gift Card Sales Report. After learning which integrations your provider has and how discounts are tracked, it’s just a matter of ordering gift cards to be stocked.
6) Review reports to ensure streamlined accounting
A new gift card provider should match or surpass the level of reporting you currently have. To that end, your finance department should indicate which reports are needed to track money movement, sales, redemptions, discounts, and reconciliation. If your provider can generate automated reporting on a weekly or monthly basis, that will help put your holiday gift card season on the nice list.
Hundreds of restaurant brands have switched to Paytronix for better liability reporting, centralized or decentralized settlement, discount tracking, additional sales channels through third parties, and fraud prevention.
“Paytronix makes it easy for me and each restaurant to run reports. With one click, the software lets each franchise see its store’s exact outstanding gift card liability.”
– Scott Pierce, CFO, The Melting Pot