Gift card programs enhance small business operations
November 07, 2013

In addition to investing in credit card processing services, the owners of small and medium-sized businesses can further enhance their payment channels by offering gift card programs to customers. No matter what time of year, consumers are always interested in having a variety of options during the shopping experience. However, the end of the year is an especially popular time for stores to allow consumers to purchase gift cards they can share with friends and family.

The annual "Holiday Shopping Survey" from Deluxe Corp, a check printing service, found small businesses will likely have much more clout during the buying rush that occurs toward the end of the year. The report said 35 percent of U.S. consumers plan to purchase gifts at local stores this year, as opposed to 27 percent in 2012.

Such a rapid increase in traffic can present these stores with unique challenges. Here is a closer look at how gift card programs will help these businesses make the most of sales opportunities:

Leveraging the season
The holidays represent a unique time for shopper behaviors. Whereas people are more inclined to purchase goods for themselves during other seasons, come November they are much more likely to look for products for loved ones, friends and relatives. In some cases, consumers may even be shopping for people they don't entirely know well. Businesses that offer gift card programs can take advantage of these situations and provide customers with a simple solution that eliminates the most stressful aspects of the holiday season, according to Houston Chronicle. Store owners may even reduce the amount of returns that come during the following weeks by allowing consumers to put money toward products they actually want.

Retaining customers who arrive too late
Houston Chronicle said gift card programs also act as a compromise for shoppers who are unable to purchase specific products that are out of stock. The holidays are a particularly busy time for many businesses, and small enterprises especially often struggle to keep their inventories as full as possible. As a result, it's not uncommon that popular items sell out relatively quickly during the last two months of the year. However, these occurrences don't necessarily have to result in lost revenue for business owners. In fact, the source said by displaying gift cards next to sold out shelves, store owners ensure long-term revenue by offering a way for customers to come back at a later date when the product is finally available again.

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