Archive for September, 2011

Is Your Loyalty Program Listening?

Wednesday, September 28th, 2011

Loyalty programs are an important channel for GCP to sell our gift cards into, so we thought our loyalty companies (clients) as well as our retailer audience would find this article interesting and educational. It outlines an interesting argument for integrating a holistic approach to the business, which includes loyalty, resulting in a cohesive customer experience.

As a consumer, I have received offers that exclude me because I am already a loyalty member…a classic show of “the disconnect that customers feel (that) is the result of the siloed approach to loyalty programs…”

Read on @ Retail Customer Experience: Beyond a loyalty program: Using loyalty data to create a unified strategy



Another Piece of Evidence: Cash Not Always the Best Reward

Tuesday, September 27th, 2011

Another study out this week, by the Incentive Research Foundation shows again, what the GCP team has known for years, cash incentives are not always the most effective.  According to this new research non-cash incentives such as merchandise, travel, and gift cards prove more effective than cash rewards.  Employees find them to be more valuable.  They drive more competition in today’s tough economy, and are viewed as a special treat, rather than cash that could be spent on bills, or groceries.  Non-cash incentives must be used for a special occasion, whether it is a trip, or “free” merchandise purchased through a gift card.

The trophy value of gift cards and other non-cash incentives is also important in today’s economy.  No one wants to lose their job, or feel as though their job is in danger, these kinds of incentives serve as better reinforcement of behavior than cash.  Employees take more notice of other employees receiving non-cash incentives, rather than a check that is often included in an employees regular paycheck.   So when beginning to think about end of quarter, or end of year bonuses and rewards, think outside the “cash box.”


For more information on the Incentive Research Foundation study click here.

The Sky is NOT Falling on Plastic Gift Cards

Monday, September 26th, 2011

With all the hub bub about prepaid technologies like mobile wallets, mCerts and virtual gift cards, Ben Jackson from Mercator Advisory Group, offers us his calming and factual perspective in “The future form of closed-loop gift cards – Reports of plastic’s demise are greatly exaggerated”.

Ben examines 3 great lessons of history to temper the overstated destiny of plastic gift cards and advises “that new technologies do not always completely distance old ones”. The history lessons offer great perspective that “There will always be a place for plastic, but (the) day will soon arrive where virtual cards and mobile cards will be a necessary part of every issuer’s prepaid strategy. The task for issuers is to figure out what needs each form factor fills and tailor their program to make each work towards the best results”, states Jackson.

This is great advice for issuers, retailers and merchants as they look to grow their businesses with diversity versus alienating parties via the next big technology.

Source: Payments Journal, Mercator Perspectives




Getting in touch e-retail – Loyalty 360 webinar!

Friday, September 23rd, 2011

In last quarter’s Industry Trend Report, GiftCard Partners published an article: Are you an online retailer …or Not?, where we investigated which of the Top 50 Retailers are accepting gift cards as payment online. We discussed the potential missed opportunities for retailers who are not taking full advantage of the online channel and getting in touch with their gift card e-retail side, especially as mobile technology gains importance in consumers’ buying choices. On September 29th, Loyalty 360 will be holding a webinar on just this topic. Expanding Your Program’s Reach in the Complex World of E-Commerce; they will examine the role of traditionalLoyalty Programs loyalty programs in the rapidly expanding world of online commerce and the industry players that are shaping loyalty in online commerce. Click here for the webinar overview and to register.






Google Wallet, gaining steam, revolutionizing payment

Thursday, September 22nd, 2011

It’s baack, we have blogged about it before, but now it walks among us, so it seems time to revisit Google Wallet.  It is the first smart phone app, only available on a very select few smart phone models, that allows you to complete payment transactions using your phone, instead of a credit card, or the prehistoric form of payment, cash.  Google wallet is revolutionizing commerce, and how people recieve rewards.  Imagine how easy it would be for a company running a health and wellness program to simply place electronic CVS/Pharmacy gift cards in their employees’ Google Wallet accounts, instead of going through the hassle of ordering physical cards, and having to have the cards activated.

As revolutionizing as Google Wallet could be, it will still take time to catch on.  For one, it is not yet widely available, and it would be a bit of a stretch to say that people will switch cell phones, or even carriers for this technology.  Additionally, it remains to be seen how many consumers will actually use the technology, given that a wide margin have expressed discomfort in using mobile technology for financial purposes, give the possibilities of identity theft and hacking.

Google Wallet will revolutionize commerce, and the face of the gift card industry, just not immediately.


For more information on Google Wallet, from someone who has actually tested the technology, click here

Punishing Employees for Bad Behavior

Tuesday, September 20th, 2011

Employers are now finding ways to punish employees for unhealthy behavior.  Increasingly, employers are holding their employees responsible.  Instead of blindly providing health insurance to all employees on the same level, regardless of their health, employers are giving one kind of insurance to healthy employees, and a less desirable package to less healthy employees.  Deductibles are higher for employees who are over weight, who smoke, or who have other conditions that result from unhealthy behavior.  Employees can avoid this cost by participating in wellness programs, provided by the employer, but if they choose not to, they face the insurance increase.

Some workers rights groups find these practices coercive, and unfair.  Opposition to these kinds of insurance programs stem from the fact that often, it cannot be proven exactly how much more a less healthy person costs a company, than someone who is healthy and in good shape.  At GiftCard Partners we believe that a Carrot Vs. the Stick approach, which offers rewards and incentives for good behavior, is far better than outcasting and punishing employees.  Although these practices promote a healthy lifestyle, is it fair to essentially reduce an employees paycheck when the company cannot tell exactly how much more that person is costing them?


For more information read the full Chicago Sun-Times article

If you have an opinion on these programs, or your company runs a program similar to this, leave us a comment.

Saying Thank You to Employees (and…Hang In There)

Monday, September 19th, 2011

The Prepaid Press recently published Employers Find Ways to Say ‘Thank You’ to Employees; Prepaid cards Increasing as Incentive of Choice which highlighted Young America’s recent research regarding prepaid cards (such as gift cards) gaining even more popularity amongst corporate HR incentive programs. With company-wide salary freezes and abandoned bonuses, employers are struggling more than ever to retain their best employees.

“…employers who want to retain their best employees admit they have fewer resources to do so, and many are turning to structured incentive programs, which cost less than salary increases and often result in high levels of employee productivity, positive feedback and loyalty,” said Joe Custer, president of Young America.

A few highlights of the survey findings:

  • Many holiday gift programs were cut last year, making way for more year-round incentive programs
  • 43% of employers said they would use a new prepaid card program for additional employee recognition programs
  • 48% would add prepaid cards in place of other types of employee rewards

Source: The Prepaid Press and Young America

A Health and Wellness Cultural Revolution, Make Your Workplace a Part of it!

Friday, September 16th, 2011

This article was brought to our attention by GCP’s co-founder, Ed Shulkin (thank you Ed!).  It’s enlightening and heartening to know that there are companies out there that, like GCP, are
striving for a complete balance of work-life. This article outlines the importance of promoting 5 factors of well-being into the workplace lives: career, social, financial, physical and community well-being. BUT, the true gems of this article are in the depth of the interviews and stories of how these factors are integrated into the cultures of companies like Zappos.

From Return on Performance eBook

We are introduced to the concept of empowering workers’ real personalities to come forward, which allows hidden special talents to shine through, thereby creating a full-on well-centric workplace culture. Sounds like simple and basic HR-speak? Not if your one of these companies doing it right…it’s brilliant and often overlooked.

I hope this article inspires you to adopt a well-being workplace philosophy…summarizing won’t do it justice, read on:  Creating a culture of well-being by Return On Performance Magazine(ROP).




The 3 P's, and the Triple Bottom Line

Thursday, September 15th, 2011

People like to jump on bandwagons.  Whether its a sports bandwagon, a clothing trend, or a going along with what their co-workers are doing.  People like to do what other people are doing.  The latest corporate bangwagon happens to be a positive one.  Corporate Social Responsibility.  Every major company, public or private, releases corporate social responsibility reports annually.  Companies want the public to know they are doing things to serve their community; regardless of if that is their internal community, or the greater community in which they “live.” The 3 P’s are becoming corporate’s “triple bottom line.” Without caring for the planet, people, and profits, corporations will not survive.

Whether it is companies incentivizing employees who stay healthy, by shopping at stores that promote healthy nutritional choices, without sounding insincere or forced.  Corporations are learning how to truly care for their employees, instead of sounding like they care.  You cannot sound forced, or your employees, and your public audience will feel that your efforts are forced, and fake.  Companies want to create loyal employees, and loyal public audiences.  They need to truly care about the planet, their people, AND their profits in order to truly succeed in this unstable economy.

For more on the 3 P’s click here

Good News Growth for Prepaid and its Gift Card Segment

Wednesday, September 14th, 2011

Prepaid and gift cards sales are amplified with new activity as technology paves the way to better than expected growth. Mercator Advisory Group recently reported that all segments of closed-loop prepaid exceeded their previous forecasts for 2010. In-store gift cards were forecasted at 4% growth for 2010, but total load volume hit $84.6 billion, up 10% from $76.9 in 2009.

The B2B gift card market realizes much of this growth via gift card categories like digital-content (online games and social networking credit) and prepaid mobile; gift cards received more loads for these digital-content activities. Retailers are also doing a better job of integrating their gift cards with loyalty programs and other consumer promotions, which catches the attention of potential incentive and rewards buyers. “Loads on employee and partner incentive closed-loop cards increased 10% and loads on consumer-incentive cards also grew 10%”, states Digital Transactions in their Mercator report overview: Buoyed by Gift Cards, Closed-Loop Prepaid Grew Faster Than Expected in 2010

“On the whole, what we’re seeing is even the closed-loop market is showing some resilience in the face of the economy,” Jackson says. Consumers seem to be recognizing the true value of their gift cards, and “many retailers are doing a better job of integrating their gift cards with loyalty programs and other promotions, Jackson says. “They’re realizing that gift cards are not just a plastic version of paper gift certificates,” he says.

Source: Digital Transactions: Buoyed by Gift Cards, Closed-Loop Prepaid Grew Faster Than Expected in 2010

Click here for Mercator’s Eighth Annual Closed Loop Prepaid Market Assessment: Both Public and Private Sector Closed-Loop Loads Continue to Drive the Market Forward


Source: Mercator Advisory Group