Archive for the ‘General’ Category

High Risk Consumer Touch Points and Demographics

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015


Consumer touch points can be risky for retailers. Customers are gained and lost when high-risk touch points are not taken advantage of and can result in negative consumer experiences. LoyaltyOne’s new study shows that high risk touch points get even riskier with certain demographic segments. One such example are return policies, they can be some of the most sensitive interactions brands face with consumers.

While a smooth return policy, especially for gifts, may seem like smooth sailing  internally, it can make or break customer relationships. For consumers coming in to return a gift, retailers have the opportunity to acquire a new customer that may have never known about the brand. The opportunity here allows brands to build a relationship with a new consumer and create a lifelong revenue stream.

At the same time brands have the opportunity to turn someone away who wasn’t a customer and now will never be. Closing a consumer off to your brand forever because they had no loyalty to begin with and were met with a bad first experience. This high-risk high-reward interaction should be strongly considered for your business before being implemented, given the high stakes.

Many retailers focus on female demographics as they tend to be the heaviest shoppers. However, in this case it’s really the men retailers need to worry about.

According to the LoyaltyOne survey:

  • 45.1% of men find it difficult to make gift returns, 13.4% more than women making the same returns.
  • On the flip side, 11% more men were more likely to return to a store after a positive gift return experience.

Most retail activity focuses on women, but maybe this is the touch point where focusing on men can really pay off.


The Secondary Gift Card Market

Wednesday, February 25th, 2015

The secondary gift card market is a delicate topic in the gift card industry. It’s sort of like a dirty little secret that’s extremely helpful for consumers. In this market consumers can recycle, re-gift or exchange their unwanted or unused gift cards for a brand that they prefer.

It’s a free market and with the access to internet today these exchange sites are literally at consumers’ fingertips. While this new market may leave unwanted gift card holders jumping for joy, retailers are not as thrilled. Secondary gift card markets can be seen as devaluing retail brands.

These markets essentially allow consumers to trade in one brand for another, making the currency that was previously brand specific, brand agnostic. Currency no longer gets funneled into a retailer’s business, but rather commoditized on the open market.

Diane Freeland, vice president of client relations, GiftCard Partners comments on the commoditization of the secondary gift card market stating, “these secondary marketplaces offer consumers the opportunity to trade unwanted gift cards that they received as a gift at less than face value of the cards they are trading.” Selling a retailer’s brand for less than face value may have unforeseen consequences.

Secondary gift card markets are a sensitive subject in the gift card industry, and it is certainly something we will keep an eye on. Check back to this space for more information on this subject as we track the industry’s response.

Employee Learning and Constructive Criticism

Tuesday, February 24th, 2015

No one likes hearing they are wrong or that they have made a mistake. It can cause you to lose confidence or want to give up. This is the last feeling employers should want to instill in their employees but at the same time it’s their job to provide feedback, yes and on some occasions constructive criticism. So let’s focus on the key word here, constructive. Without clearly identifying what you are looking for and more importantly why you are looking for it, this term can quickly be lost and leave employees feeling bad about something they put time and energy into. While it may be difficult to navigate, here are some helpful recommendations.

  1. Give feedback at the moment something is happening: Engage employees in feedback on an ad-hoc basis. Don’t wait until review cycles to give feedback, positive or negative. If employees need to be corrected or commended, do it in a timely manner.
  2. Get employees back on the “bike”: Encourage employees to try new skills or make adjustments immediately. The way feedback should be ad-hoc, employee adjustments should be as well. This mitigates the risk of employees losing confidence due to negative feedback.
  3. Reinforce positive change and behavior: Reinforce positive change! Make sure employees feel recognized for their good work. Gift cards are one great way to accomplish some small monetary recognition.

For more information on improving employee learning check out this helpful article from Retail Customer Experience.

Take Your Sales Incentives to the Next Level

Thursday, February 19th, 2015

Sales Incentives

We’ve talked a lot about gamification and sales incentives over the years. From a cutting edge concept to an integral part of some sales organizations, gamification works to motivate salespeople through friendly competition and achievable metrics set by employers. Gamification is great but it can create a lot of work for the employer and sales management. Organizations like Chattanooga-based Ambition, seek to take your gamification platform to the next level, integrating both digital and automated aspects. As Jared Houghton, one of the co-founders of Ambition, says in a recent article, they are working to “transition from whiteboards to dashboards.”

These platforms don’t like the word “gamification” so let’s use sales motivation instead. Automated sales motivation platforms simply allow employers to define their metrics for success and track each salesperson’s goals and productivity. The platforms also provide a healthy dose of competition by tracking salespeople against each other and comparing numbers.

Every organization does sales incentives their own way, and there are reservations that this system could get too public, giving salespeople too much access to their peers’ performance. That being said, it’s important that employers look closely at both their employees and the dynamic within the company before launching in to this type of open platform.

Supporters stand firm that in a world where business systems are increasingly digital, giving employees the self-motivation to take their own performance to the next level through digital tracking that can be monitored by the employer really automates what can be a tedious process. Self-motivation associated with sales incentive platforms can also boost employee autonomy which furthers the desired motivation outcome.

These technologies are new, cutting edge and have the power to transform how sales motivation and sales incentives happen. The GiftCard Partners team can’t wait to see how gift cards and virtual gift cards play into systems like Ambition. Imagine having a system where when a team member met or exceeded personal benchmarks, they were automatically sent an eGift card straight to their inbox?




Medicare Changes On The Horizon

Wednesday, February 18th, 2015

Medicare ChangesRecently the Obama administration announced a goal of accelerating changes to Medicare so that within four years half of the program’s traditional spending will go to doctors, hospitals, and other providers, stressing quality and frugality.  This plan is intended to replace Medicare’s traditional fee-for-service medicine.  Currently in the fee-for-service structure, doctors and hospitals are paid for each service without regard to how the patient fares.

Last year about $72 billion (20%) of traditional Medicare spending went to alternate payment models such as Accountable Care Organizations (ACO), where doctors banded together to care for patients along with the promise of getting a portion of any savings they bring to Medicare.  Across the U.S. there are now 424 ACOs and 105 hospitals or health care groups that accept bundled payments. In return, Medicare gives them a fixed sum for each patient which covers initial treatment and follow-up care.

The administration is targeting for about $113 billion (30%) of Medicare’s traditional spending to go to these ACO type of endeavors by 2016 and about $215 billion (50%) by the end of 2018.  They also want to spend on quality components. such as bonuses and penalties on top of traditional fee-for-service payments, so that by the end of 2018, 90% of Medicare spending has some sort of link to quality.

“For the first time we’re actually going to set clear goals and establish a clear timeline for moving from volume to value in the Medicare system,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell,  “So today what we want to do is measure our progress and we want to hold ourselves in the federal government accountable.”

Read more on the Obama Administration’s plan for Medicare here!

Healthy Employees are Good for Business

Tuesday, February 17th, 2015

Every organization strives to have a strong workforce. They are looking for employees who can drive the business, build relationships and advance organizational goals. But creating those strong employees has to go beyond just business and into health and wellness. Ensuring that employees are exercising, eating right, and generally taking care of themselves by using their healthcare benefits will create a stronger workforce, both mentally and physically. Some of the numbers around employee health benefits are staggering. Investing in healthy employees can increase productivity and strengthen your business as a whole

Using health and wellness programs, as outlined in the Public Health Institute’s infographic below, increases productivity by minimizing employee’s time away from work. Focusing programs on preventing avoidable conditions such as high blood pressure, obesity and high cholesterol invoke achievable goals for employees. Incentivizing these prevention program with small rewards help employees maintain a healthy lifestyle and are a great way to give your employees a boost, as they give your business a boost.

Download the brief here.

infographic outlining how health prevention leads to healthy employees

CVS/pharmacy Sweetens Valentine’s Day

Friday, February 13th, 2015

CVS/pharmacyLove is in the air, or it will be tomorrow. As we prepare for a holiday full of chocolates and roses, CVS/pharmacy has both classic and non-traditional gift options available. With everything from perfumes, photo cards, razors and male grooming equipment on sale, to bonuses for ExtraCare rewards members on certain purchases and purchasing thresholds, it’s easier than ever to make your special one feel special this Valentine’s Day.

While some may view the holiday as hokey and only meant for the love birds, Valentine’s Day can be used as a unique opportunity to show gratitude and appreciation for the employees in your office. Your support staff, your junior level employees, the people in the mail room (heck, even the person who delivers the mail!) are great people to thank on Valentine’s Day.

Simple “Thank You’s,” especially during these dark, cold winter months, can be a great morale boost. Thank you gifts don’t need to be big either. A $10 gift card to retailers like CVS/pharmacy can be a great way to say thanks without breaking the bank, especially with the variety of merchandise on sale. For healthier options that can support new year’s resolutions and employee’s healthy lifestyle the CVS Select® Gift Card can help with the temptation by limiting the merchandise the card can be redeemed for (so skip the chocolate when using this gift card!).

So who do you want or need to thank this Valentines Day? Think beyond the cupid interpretation and show “love” as gratitude to the people who make your business great!

Scaling Your Business Successfully

Thursday, February 12th, 2015

Scaling Your BusinessScaling your business can be challenging. It can affect everyone from the executive management team to the most junior employee. Growth and scaling can provide instability, lack of faith in leadership and employee turn over. All of these events can have a negatively impact your business.

Here are a few tips on how to scale successfully for your employees and your business to provide stability and success.

  1. Invest in Your Leadership: Once you’ve built an executive team, invest in making them not only the best they can be, but the best they can be for your business. Whether it’s leadership training, mentorship training or an executive team bonding session, it’s critical to get your top team in sync so that effect trickles down through the organization.
  2. Hire the Right People: A growth stage can be an unstable time for the company. New employees are coming in at a steady rate and it’s important to keep the disruption to a minimum, so make sure these are the right people for the job. Minimizing turnover as headcount rises is a key component to maintaining stability for longer tenured employees. It also keeps the productivity and morale high which is important for employee motivation.
  3. Be Positive: During tough times where instability may be high, focus on remaining positive. Keep morale up, especially amongst longer tenured employees, as they are the backbone of your business. Offer small rewards for a job well done, or do something that builds community.

Leadership Qualities to Keep Your Business Humming

Tuesday, February 10th, 2015

Military discipline is known to transform people and form the incredible individuals who keep our country safe every day. The military also instills incredible leadership qualities that can help you keep your business on tract and build your team into the picture of efficiency. Here are three qualities that Amit Kleinberger, CEO of Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt, learned in the military that he applies to his business.

  • Teamwork. Working together is important, no matter what the collective end goal is. But successful teamwork is impossible without the right members. Keep the focus on team selection. Look for people with both leadership qualities, and can keep their ego in check. These are the people who will be the hardest working, best team members for your organization.
  • Accountability. It needs to be clear that consequences are a possibility. With a certain level of responsibility consequences go hand in hand with mistakes or failure but that accountability should really motivate employees to contribute as much as possible toward common goals. To put this in a positive light and avoid burn out or giving up, focus on those mistakes or failures and help turn them into a learning experience for everyone.
  • Common Goals. Make sure your team is working toward a clear goal. Establish specific long and short term goals so the team knows where they are headed and ensure they are heading there together. A ship without a captain is likely to get lost, don’t leave your team floating around.

Successful leadership qualities are valuable to your organization and must be nurtured constantly. Recognizing these leadership skills in your organization is incredibly important; whether it’s through simple spot rewards like a gift card, or a well earned promotion, make sure your leaders know how much you appreciate them.

3 Keys to Any Safety Incentive Program

Thursday, February 5th, 2015

Safety Incentive ProgramSafety incentive programs can be hard to design and even harder to implement. They should be designed to encourage teamwork, discourage non-reporting of incidents and obviously encourage safe behavior. The biggest obstacle employers face in implementing safety incentive programs is to make them a seamlessly integrated part of the employee culture, not a feared element. Here are three suggestions that will enhance any safety incentive program.

  • Make it Rewarding: Employees want to keep the workplace safe, but at the same time it is always nice to be rewarded for good behavior. Rewards don’t need to be massive to be effective. Fixed cost options like gift cards to popular retailers like The Limited, Whole Foods Market and GNC are great ways to show employees their safe behavior is appreciated, without breaking the bank.
  • Make it Entertaining: Make your safety incentive program public. Keep a counter of “days without incident” in an employee common space to keep the program at the forefront of employees’ minds. Make it fun, keep it light and address it often with the staff.
  • Make it Simple: Don’t overcomplicate an employee incentive program. Keep it simple so employees can internalize it and make it part of their daily routine. Simplicity breeds success in these situations.

For 12 more ways to make sure your safety incentive program runs smoothly and successfully check out this article from