According to the article “10 Awesome Tips for Using Gift Cards to Boost Your Holiday Sales” by contributor Rieva Lesonsky on smallbiztrends.com, gift cards are no longer just an option for major retailers to offer. “[In] fact, a new study reports, half of U.S. consumers are very open to buying gift cards from small, independent retailers. And more than one-third admit they frequently buy gift cards for themselves,” Lesonsky says. As such, Lesonsky offers 10 tips for how to make the most of offering gift cards to boost sales this holiday season:

  • Offer physical and electronic options. While most shoppers still plan to buy plastic cards, e-gift cards are a growing trend, especially with young shoppers who like to carry as little as possible aside from their phones. E-cards not only take just hours to set up (as opposed to waiting days or weeks for plastic ones), but they provide a new option for shoppers who need gifts at the last min fute or who don’t want to deal with crowds. In addition, when someone purchases an e-gift card, you not only capture their information, but that of the recipient as well, allowing you to market to both of them at a later date.
  • Use social media promotions. Whether plastic or electronic (but especially if you have e-gift cards), promote them on your social media pages.
  • Market to self-givers. It’s more popular than you might think for customers to purchase these cards for their own use, so create promotions prompting them to get a little something for themselves while shopping for others too.
  • Promote purchases using gift cards. You can use discounts as leverage to push buyers into spending at a threshold. For instance, give a $10 gift card for every $35 worth of merchandise purchased, and so on. In addition, you can even send gift cards (by mail or email) to customers because typically, when they purchase with a gift card, they end up spending more than the gift card is worth, so the cost to you is worth it.
  • Offer discounts on gift cards. By offering discounts on the cards themselves (such as $20 for a $25 gift card), you can again nudge people into buying.
  • Have a gift card display near the register. Since they are often an impulse or last minute buy, create an attractive display filled with the cards themselves and envelopes or boxes for them.
  • Use gift cards as loyalty program rewards. Since they are often seen as more valuable than discounts, reward your loyalty program members with cards instead of or alongside discounts so you can drive up your business sales.
  • Ramp up gift card promotions right before Hanukkah and Christmas. Shoppers get desperate as the holidays draw near, so gift cards become an attractive solution. Promote them as something that recipients can use after the crazy bustle of the holiday season (since most are used in January and February) when there are several post-holiday deals.
  • Target your marketing. Emphasize in your marketing that gift cards are the perfect gift for anyone — teachers, employees, clients, etc.
  • Start now. If you haven’t already added gift cards to your seasonal promotions, don’t wait. Most people have already begun their holiday shopping, and the more choices you can offer, the better a chance you have of increasing your business.

You can find the full article here.