Archive for the ‘General’ Category

Gift Cards Go Virtual

Tuesday, November 25th, 2014

We’ve spent some time over the last few weeks talking about gift card purchasing and gifting as the holiday shopping season heats up. However, it’s important to keep a secondary focus on trends going forward. Based on First Data’s latest Consumer Insights Survey, the future of gift cards is virtual. Here are a few key stats from the survey.

  • 33% of consumers (that’s 3 in 10) are purchasing more e-gift or virtual gift cards.
  • Online gift card purchases are up 8% from 2013.
  • 13% of survey respondents have used an app or social media site like Facebook to give virtual gift cards.

This survey indicates, as many consumer motivators do, that gift cards’ virtual and mobile potential takes the convenience factor of a gift card to the next level. The growth in virtual gift cards and virtual gifting could also be an early indication that consumers are adopting virtual and mobile payment technologies more frequently in their regular shopping routines. Gift cards can be an entry into using credit and debit cards, as gift cards present no risk to personal finance. It allows consumers to test the security of mobile and virtual payments without connecting any personal information. Once consumers become comfortable they can incorporate their own payment methods into the online and mobile systems. As the holiday season progresses we will see if this continues to trend.

Stay tuned, and let us know in the comments if you’re shifting gift cards or payments to your mobile phone or wallet.

Great Workplaces on the Rise

Monday, November 24th, 2014

We are entering an age of great workplaces. A job is no longer just a job, but a good fit in environment and skills between employer and employee. Due to more transparency given by employers and more trust in the employee/employer relationships employees are happier in their workplace.

What does this mean? Generally, it means better business results. Awesome, right? The Great Place to Work Institute’s latest research is the simplest example of the cause and effect of investing in employees and workplace culture. Creating a place where employees want to be will make them believe in your organization’s goals and the business results are undeniable.

At GiftCard Partners we take our own lessons to heart. We were recently recognized as a Massachusetts winner of the When Work Works Award for innovative, flexible and effective workplaces. We all work remotely, and take great pride in our ability to find camaraderie and teamwork while working in flexible, fluid workspace. It makes our employees’ lives easier by giving them the flexibility to be home when kids get back from school, or there’s a family emergency. None of us commute, so we save time, money and frustration between the hours of 7 and 9 a.m. A workplace doesn’t need to be a 9-5 grind and it doesn’t need to take place at uniform desks under fluorescent lighting. A flexible workplace can make the work better in certain situations.

A job is no longer just a job. A great workplace doesn’t need to look conventional. It does need to work for its employees and their employer.

Use Rewards In Employee Wellness Programs

Friday, November 21st, 2014

Employee Wellness Program

There are a few key factors to a successful employee wellness program. The folks at the Lane Report have boiled it down to three. Are you driving your program with these components? If not, it may be time to adjust.

  1. Manage by Reward, Not Punishment: In the age old discussion of the carrot and the stick, this group votes (as many do) to manage through carrots. Promoting a program through rewards will make the program positive and seem more voluntary, while maintaining comparable engagement rates.
  2. Be an Effective Motivator: Your employee wellness program should motivate employees through clear goals and communication, and the best motivator, peer leadership. If you identify a few employees who are willing to be “ambassadors” for the program from management to employees they will create a peer-to-peer environment that can be the ultimate motivator.
  3. Keep Technology Simple: However you choose to track your program, whatever software you give your employees access to, keep it simple. There are a number of platforms and programs to use and we aren’t in the business of endorsing any of them. Whatever you do, keep it simple so your staff doesn’t get lost in the technology. Don’t limit the reach of your employee wellness program by overcomplicating it.

Optimizing Gamification of Your Employee Loyalty Program

Thursday, November 20th, 2014

ilovemyjobGamifying your employee loyalty program can be a great way to engage your workforce and collect data to strengthen your team.

Here are a few ways to make your gamification program the best it can be.

  1. Set Specific Goals: Setting specific goals for a gamification program is key. Don’t send your organization on a wild-goose chase, send your employees to play games. Know what you want out of the program so you can invest time and money wisely.
  2. Provide Relevant Rewards: Give employees what they want and tangible rewards they can use! Flexible reward ideas like gift cards to popular retailers like The Cheesecake Factory, Whole Foods Market and Boston Market make a stress-free and budget friendly gift idea.
  3. Solicit Feedback: Make sure your employees feel comfortable providing feedback for the program. Gamification should be fun and competitive. If it’s not, the participants should be able to tell you.
  4. Analyze the Data: Gamification programs should be tracked. The data needs to be analyzed to ensure that you are actually getting the ROI intended. Don’t continue to invest in a program if it’s not working.

For more information on making your gamification program the best it can be check out this article from Retail Customer Experience. Even though the article covers customer gamification programs, consider your employees your customers and the material becomes pretty applicable.

Team Communication Through Comedy

Tuesday, November 18th, 2014

comedyTeam communication is key. The better a team can communicate, even non-verbally, the better that team can work together in any situation. Being able to pick up on signals and non-verbal tendencies can help co-workers in critical situations like client meetings or big presentations.

So, how do you expedite your teams bonding and ensure everyone gets to know each other and gets comfortable? Put everyone in an equally uncomfortable position doing a fun(ny) activity like stand-up comedy, improv or karaoke. Get everyone nervous, so their teammates learn their nervous habits. That way when they are in front of the big client and may not have the best answer, their teammates know, seamlessly, to jump in.

Creating fun team building activities also helps teammates get to know each other outside the office. It gets everyone loose and talking to each other about something other than work. Building team bonds makes client meetings stronger and the potential for sales and upsells greater.  Improving team communication can translate to improving your bottom line.

For more information on how to improve team communication through comedy check out this video from

Attracting Millennials to Incentive Programs

Monday, November 17th, 2014

LoyaltyOne recently took a deep dive into incentive programs and what exactly attracted millennials to them. There study found that the majority, falling into a range of 18-29 years old, identified in-store experience as a top factor when it came to joining grocery-store reward programs. These in-store experiences also seem to go hand-in-hand with health and nutrition.

Traditionally grocers have relied on price discounts and fuel rewards as a staple in their loyalty program, but findings from LoayltyOne’s recent report may have them thinking differently. The report drew from 1,034 U.S. consumers who were asked what benefits they found most valuable in their loyalty program. An overall 69% indicated that an “expert session” with a nutritionist or chef would drive them to shop with a particular grocer and an overwhelming 89% of millennials responded the same.

In addition to offering more of these types of in-store experiences, Fred Thompson, retail practice leader for LoyaltyOne, told, “Customers are looking for grocery stores to expand their healthy choice options, and this is an excellent time for grocers to retool and refresh their loyalty strategy to incorporate more health and wellness benefits, while decreasing their reliance on static, published rewards.”

One such grocer may come to mind when thinking of health, nutrition and customer engagement. We wrote last month about Whole Foods Market taking a leap into loyalty for the first time with their Whole Foods Market Rewards program. For a company that has already shown it’s strong customer engagement, especially with millennials, hosting “Twitter Chat Sessions” with customers online, food photography classes in-store, cooking classes, etc., we look forward to seeing how America’s Healthiest Grocery Store will take their “health statement” into the rewards and incentives programs space.

Employee Engagement is About Staying Human

Friday, November 14th, 2014

downloadEmployee engagement can be complicated, or it can be simple. A lot of organizations get caught up in metrics and ROI figures when ensuring their employees are engaged at work. However, it can be as simple as staying human.

Employees tend to disengage most when their companies get too corporate and lose their human side. Employees, above all else want to be treated like individuals, with respect and dignity, no matter what. Keeping companies human ensures that processes in place will deliver those basic principles to employees.

Engagement and specifically employee engagement is about not only being human but bringing humans together. Recognizing groups that work well as a team and recognizing individual strengths and weaknesses grow teams and bring people together, causing higher engagement levels.

Bringing people together is not only and engagement skill but a leadership skill. If you can bring your workforce together, you have the attention and respect of your staff and should reflect that back on them. Giving out spot rewards for exhibiting desired behavior or even exemplifying the team dynamic can be a great way to reinforce employee engagement and bringing a workforce together.

For more information on bringing teams together and employee engagement check out this article from Forbes.

The Consumer Impact on Consumer Payments

Thursday, November 13th, 2014

ID-100183869Last week GiftCard Partners senior management attended Money 20/20, the biggest industry event surrounding payments and payment technology. While they learned quite a bit on the trip about what the latest technology could mean for how consumers pay for goods, a study released by Accenture, but an interesting spin on payments that some times can get lost in the latest technology and the cutting edge applications: the consumer perspective.

The ongoing challenge in the consumer payments industry has been consumer confidence and adoption. Every wallet, app and mobile device is useless if consumers aren’t willing to put their personal information in and use the technology. In the Accenture survey of over 4,000 North American consumers, they expect to use traditional consumer payments methods like cash and credit 66% of the time now, but only 54% of the time by 2020. While the number is modest, it shows a trend over time that indicates consumer adoption is trending the way of mobile and virtual payment options.

The survey results also indicate that although there are the typical fears about security, consumers are also interested in payments choices. Consumer choice overcoming consumer trepidation is the ultimate formula to real mobile and virtual payment adoption. Consumer impact is the only thing that will allow the consumer payments industry to truly turn the corner.

4 Bonuses for Mobile Payments

Wednesday, November 12th, 2014

mobile-paymentConsumers have begun an organic transition into mobile payments and digital currencies. They are slowly filing cash, check, and credit cards right into the history book, next to the floppy disks and video tapes.

One example of this is the steady increase in demand for cell phone cases that come equipped with built in credit card slots.  Consumers are naturally inclined to forgo the paper and plastic and move towards options that provide a simpler, more convenient method of payment.

Take, for example, Accenture’s 2014 North America Consumer Payments Survey where they studied 4,000 consumers in the United States to conclude that nearly half of them are already using mobile payment options, a 24% increase since 2012. What’s more, Whole Foods Market  just announced to The Wall Street Journal that it has processed 150,000 Apple Pay transactions in their first three weeks of integration, estimated at around 1% of the company’s sales, the same market share percentage Steve Jobs set as the first year target for the iPhone.

I know what your thinking, how does this relate to gift cards? 

This trend, geared towards electronic payments, is mirrored in the gift card industry. 59% of the 62 gift cards surveyed by as part of its 2014 Gift Card Survey are now offered in digital form. Ben Jackson, director of Mercator Advisory Group’s prepaid advisory service, tells Bankrate that, “Retailers and shoppers are getting more comfortable with the idea of a digital gift card and it’s going to continue to grow, just like everything else is becoming more digital.”

Here are 4 bonuses that electronic gift card’s will bring to you:

  1. Quick fix – They can be purchased online or with a smartphone and then sent to the recipient via email, text message, app or even Facebook.
  2. Never lost – They don’t take up excess real estate in your wallet and and they will never be tossed in the abyss of the junk drawer.
  3. Easy loyalty program solution – Merchants are beginning to pair their digital gift cards with existing or enhanced loyalty programs.
  4. Personalization – Ben Jackson personalizes his digital gift cards in his own way, “If I want to send you a (digital) gift card and I want to put a picture of me as a dancing elf on it, I can do that.”

5 Steps to a Successful Employee Wellness Program

Tuesday, November 11th, 2014

An employee wellness program is a great way to boost employee health and increase the organization’s bottom line. Here are five key steps to make sure your employee wellness program is as successful as it can be through the end of 2014 and the beginning of 2015.

  1. Develop a Plan: Plan your program. Write a strategic plan with specific tactics and goals. This will help your employees understand the program and it will keep your whole team on track to achieve specific goals.
  2. Get Executive Buy-In: Getting executives on board and participating in your program will create a culture of leadership by example. If executives and managers get involved, their teams will be more motivated to do the same.
  3.  Establish Wellness Champions: Think of wellness champions like team captains. they can be any level of seniority but they should be involved in planning activities that are incorporated in the wellness program. It can give junior employees leadership roles and a chance to lead their colleagues while building camaraderie across teams.
  4. Gather Data: Get feedback and take biometric renderings. This will show if the workforce is engaged in the wellness program, so you can find out what adjustments need to be made to maximize success and to make sure your staff is actually getting healthier.
  5. Evaluate: Ongoing measurement and evaluation will be critical to make adjustments and improvements in your program. Remember that evaluation should be ongoing, not a one time event.

For more information on how to maximize the impact and success of your employee wellness program, check out this article from