Things are looking up for digital gift card adoption, and that's good news for resellers. Greater consumer acceptance of digital wallets, sophisticated technology, and increased retailer acceptance of digital gift cards are powerful influences.
This is good news for gift card resellers, as they are experts at tailoring rewards that meet the needs of clients, from embossing winners' names on traditional plastic cards to developing web portals for redemptions.
Because the gift card market can be defined in a multitude of ways, there are competing estimates of its size. SVM
, a third-party reseller of gift cards, defines the business-to-business channel as a $50 billion market.
Technology is having a great impact on the gift card reseller industry. As the acceptance of technology grows, more corporate buyers are asking for digital/mobile gift cards. The industry has been able to deliver these types of gift cards for many years, but using digital gift cards at retail locations has been very disjointed, according to John Cullen, vice president, sales and marketing, SVM. Sometimes the consumer is required to print an email, some retailers can scan a mobile phone that renders a barcode readable by a barcode scanner, and still others are usable only online.
Wave-and-read scanners using near field communications (NFC) technology are also gaining acceptance.
"With the broader acceptance of NFC at the point of sale, it will be interesting to watch what happens with the digital gift card payment space and how that affects the consumer redemption experience," Cullen explains.
With an emphasis on keeping up with the latest technology, SVM has relaunched an enhanced Internet customer management platform "to accommodate the changing needs of our industry and to meet specific customer requests and demands," says Cullen.RPG Card Services
, a third-party reseller of gift cards based in Lisle, IL, also recently launched a web-enabled purchasing and account management platform to meet the changing demands of its corporate customers.
"We are known for our personalized, one-to-one sales account management," says Tom Gilbert, president of RPG, "but we also recognize that our corporate clients don't always have time to talk, or that they might need to place an order during off times."
RPG has seen the growing acceptance of digital and mobile technology in the consumer space flow into the corporate space. This has translated into more corporate buyers asking for digital purchasing solutions. Yet in this increasingly digitized segment, there remains room for plastic.
"Plastic gift cards are still the dominant choice," adds Gilbert. "Most incentive buyers prefer the personal touch of a tangible gift card reward, but digital adoption is growing fast."