Looking to add gift cards to your small business? Learn how to jumpstart your gift card program in five simple steps.
1. Choose your gift card processor
First, choose how you plan to process your gift card orders. For many small businesses, the easiest option might be to use whatever gift card option is in their point of sale (POS) system.
You can also purchase them from vendors and create a new “item for sale” in your POS system. Another option is to buy them through a bank that offers the service. Once you choose how you’ll process cards, you’ll need to order them.
Online or egift cards
By partnering with your POS system gift card provider, you may be able to offer gift card purchases online. Just like any e-commerce transaction, items are processed online. When customers are ready to purchase in-store or online, they can print electronic cards or show them to you on their smartphones.
With ecards, your business may have to cover a small payment processing fee (usually around $0.30). These gift cards will usually appear as a barcode, an identification number, or both.
While a bit of an old-school option, you can use gift certificates if you don’t have a POS system that can track gift cards. Instead, you can print your certificates and track purchases in a digital ledger or create a new line item in your POS system.
Some businesses also use a mix of gift cards and gift certificates. For example, a spa might offer a gift card for any purchase and a certificate for a “free massage.” However, gift certificates can be easy to counterfeit and aren’t the safest or most reliable option.
Electronic strip or barcode gift cards
The last option is a physical gift card or plastic gift cards that you will order from your POS provider, a merchant bank, or a third-party gift card vendor. These cards often look like credit cards with magnetic strips, barcodes, and identification numbers.
Many vendors will provide you with customizable options to include your brand information on the card. Although they can be a pricer option, customers may prefer the physical card over a paper certificate or ecard.
2. Order physical gift cards
If you have a physical location, you’ll need to order gift cards. You can do this through a third party or a vendor depending on your preferences. Ensure that you customize your order to include your brand logo, company name, preferred design, and any other details.
Tip: Ordering gift cards in bulk reduces costs.
3. Input gift cards into your system
Each POS system will have a different method for inputting your cards, but they’re all similar. Most commonly, you’ll just scan or swipe a blank card. Then, you’ll be prompted to choose the amount of money for that card.
Your customer pays the amount on the card to complete the transaction. When customers come in to use a gift card, the gift card should appear as an option for tender in your POS system.
4. Establish gift card policies for your team
Once you have your POS system set up for gift cards, educate your team on how it works. Share how to process gift card transactions and how customers can make purchases with gift cards. You’ll also want to inform them of any limitations you have on gift cards. Policies might include:
- Limiting the number of gift cards customers can purchase
- Not allowing customers to buy gift cards with gift cards
Other things to consider are how to track purchased cards and set expiration dates that follow federal guidelines.
5. Start selling and tracking gift cards
Now that your staff is on the same page about the rules surrounding the gift card program, you can start selling gift cards online or in your store. If your POS system allows, you might track gift cards by attaching them to customer profiles in your system.