9 Features Your Gift Cards Management Software Should Have in 2023
In this post, I will explain all there is to know about gift card management software and what features you should expect from yours in 2023. Let’s start with the basics first.
Note: If you are in the middle of building an RFP for a Promotion Engine, you can speed up the purchase process with our editable RFP templates.
What is gift card software?
Gift card management software is a category of marketing software that allows digital teams to generate and manage gift card campaigns. Given the huge market complexity, each gift card software is unique in terms of features it offers. The rapid digitization of ecommerce brought about by the pandemic caused the disruption of the gift card industry and turned software providers towards digital and mobile-first customer experiences. In short, plastic cards were thrown in the trash.
Before choosing a gift card provider, you need to analze what kind of gift cards your business needs – physical, digital, or both. Secondly, you need to choose between offering gift cards for your own products and services or using external partners such as Amazon, Zalando, or Netflix. This post will focus on the 100% virtual gift cards and the must-have features of digital gift card systems.
What to look for in gift card software?
In this day and age, businesses need to consider these three primary attributes before settling for a software provider – estimated time-to-value, overall development costs and solution security. But there are plenty of not-so-obvious functional and non-functional requirements that you might want to include in your gift card software RFP process. No matter if you want to sell gift cards as a standalone offering or use them as a part of a campaign, this feature list will definitely come in handy.
9 must-have features of gift card software
Before you take a leap of faith and decide on a provider, consider the following invaluable gift card features that will help you run engaging campaigns.
1. Software customization & personalization
The market is constantly changing – and so should your marketing technology stack. By choosing a gift card software with extensive customization and personalization options, you are setting yourself up for success.
Customers expect and appreciate non-intrusive personalization, something I wrote about here. So make campaign personalization paramount in your strategy and let customers receive something unique. With custom user data, targeting campaigns becomes more accurate, and consumers are more likely to use gift cards if it includes their favorite products or services.
“(...) more than three-quarters of US business-to-consumer customers saw the benefit of trading personal information for more relevant discounts and offers.”
Here are some examples of personalization features your gift card provider should offer out-of-the-box:
- Customization of the count, value, and code pattern of the gift card, including adjusting the code pattern to the recipient’s name.
- Advanced redemption limits set per gift card, campaign, or customer in a specific time window.
- Time limitations, such as start and expiry date or recurring validity timeframes (e.g., only at the weekends).
- Customer segment-specific limitations allowing you to target only specific target groups with your gift card offers.
- Product and order-specific limitations.
- Custom limitations based on business-specific data.
2. Digital-first approach
Use the digital environment to extend gift card sales and facilitate their management. The in-store sales are only one of many channels that your audience interacts with daily. If you want to keep up with modern customers, you need to switch to digital and mobile-first user experiences.
“56% of surveyed consumers would like to keep gift cards stored on their phones. This makes the card easily accessible and decreases the chances of it being lost.”
Another hidden benefit of choosing digital gift cards over physical ones is increased campaign security. Virtual cards are much harder to steal, but of course, digital campaigns also create a set of their own fraud risks, but more on that later.
3. Simple API integration
If you are new to the concept of API, take a look at this post. In short, API is a quick way of communication between two separate systems. Plenty of future-oriented enterprises are now fixing their gaze on API-first tools as they allow for the sky-is-the-limit scalability and speed.
With API-first gift card software, you can achieve your marketing goals without long hours spent on rebuilding your current infrastructure. An important aspect to look out for is developer-friendliness and the flexibility of the gift card system to create, modify, and remove campaigns quickly, without too much hassle and developers’ involvement. All in all, the ideal “after” state is to have a marketing team that can use the system on their own without bothering developers to make small changes to campaigns. Here are some gift card actions that should be enabled through API:
4. Omnichannel support
Make sure that your gift cards are going to reach customers at the right time and via the right channel. All your efforts would be in vain if you weren’t able to reach customers efficiently. That’s why a well-fitting gift card distribution is key.
Despite plenty of new touchpoints popping up recently, email is still the more reliable and convenient way to distribute gift cards. Even better if your gift card provider offers native integrations with popular messaging platforms, such as MailChimp, Braze or ActiveCampaign. What's more, with the same simplicity, gift cards can be easily pushed out to customers via mobile channels such as SMS messages or push notifications.
Other possibilities are made possible with QR codes. So make sure that your gift card system support other code formats besides text, think barcode and QR. After gift cards get unique QR codes, they can be placed on physical cards and scanned via a mobile app. So keep your eyes peeled for export capabilities as well.
5. Dynamic customer segmentation
Efficient campaign targeting would be much harder without segmentation mechanisms inside your gift card system of choice. User segmentation is a good foundation for building your customer persona and adjusting your messaging to various customer groups with wildly different expectations from your brand.
When choosing a gift card software, ensure that it can divide your customers based on plenty of attributes, including:
- Personal information (name, gender, email domain).
- Location and device.
- Preferences and order history.
- Custom customer attributes.
6. Fraud prevention mechanisms
Unfortunately, e-card fraud is fairly common with a range of fraudulent schemes and devious ideas popping off all over the internet. Luckily, there is a set of prevention mechanisms that you can apply. The first of them is a secure gift card management system. Here are some of the security features you should be looking for:
- Custom code generation with random strings and numbers – the optimal code length is between 8-12 characters.
- Redemption limits set per customer, time period, campaign and more.
- Audit logs for quick troubleshooting and anomaly detection.
- Webhook mechanism for fast error and fraud notifications.
- Card assignment mechanism – no other entity besides the card holder can use them.
7. Tracking & reporting
The crucial but often overlooked feature of any good gift card management system is tracking and reporting capabilities. Without proper analytics dashboards displaying relevant and up-to-date data, you won’t be able to improve your strategy and make data-driven decisions in future campaigns. Make sure that your gift card system allows you to track the campaign from both bird’s eye and granular views – preferably with the possibility to track any event and activity related to a specific card or user.
Even better if your system allows for data export – this way, if you have custom tracking requirements or another BI software to process the data, you can easily do so with a few clicks.
8. Global reach and scalability
I have already listed API as one of the key components of any future-oriented software provider. However, offering API on its own can prove to be too little. Besides API-based architecture, you should look for a system with guaranteed high performance and fast response rates. Features such as dedicated data clusters, custom server locations and flexible pricing plans allow you to scale up and down – delivering exactly the results you need, without overpaying.
9. Great usability
Besides the needs and user experience of your customers, which we wrote about in our gift cards UX guide, you should also consider your teammates who are going to operate the software daily. You can ask yourself the following questions to find out whether the tool is user-friendly:
- Can I invite my team members to operate campaigns with me?
- What sort of user roles and account protection does the system provide?
- Is there a graphical user interface that non-technical users can navigate through?
- Is the API well-documented for your dev team?
After going through all of the must-have features of gift card providers, it’s high time for a quick summary. In short, ask yourself the following questions before making up your mind about a gift card provider:
- Does the software allow for customization and personalization?
- Can you easily synchronize your customer, product, and custom data to target campaigns better?
- Is the software tailored towards offline or online experiences?
- Does the software offer tracking and accounting capabilities for easier liability management?
- Can it be integrated with other platforms? Think of distribution or tracking.
- Is it easy to use for developers and marketers?
To show you in practice why the above features matter, let’s analyze some examples of gift card campaigns you can run and what you need in terms of technology to make it work.
Examples of gift card campaigns and technology that works behind the scenes
Let's go through some examples of gift card campaigns to learn what features determine good software, ready to manage gift cards at any scale.
1. Abandoned cart campaigns
In this campaign example, a gift card is sent automatically to a customer once they drop off your site without finishing the purchase. The purpose of the campaign is to incentivize the customer to come back and finish the purchase. Typically, cart abandoned campaigns are offered through discounts – running a gift card one puts an interesting spin on this popular strategy and may yield better results as customers are more likely to spend more once granted a gift card.
Such campaigns work well at scale if the gift card system is capable of capturing specific events performed by customers. By triggering event-based messages, you can effortlessly respond to customer behavior and their buying activity.
To ensure gift card campaign security, you need to have proper limits in place to avoid customers dropping orders on purpose over and over again to claim unlimited gift cards. For instance, limit the card usage to once per customer only.
2. Re-engagement gift card campaigns
This kind of campaign is based on a specific timeframe. Once you take notice that a customer who used to be an active shopper has stopped visiting your store, you can re-engage them with a gift card that’s simply too good to overlook. You can define a time window for a customer’s absence, and when the time for re-engagement comes, the campaign should be triggered automatically.
To run a similar campaign, your gift card software should allow you to segment your audience into groups based on specific timeframes. Thanks to this kind of customer segmentation, you can reach dormant users and put time limits on gift cards. For example, send a gift card valid only for 7 days and available if the customer signed up within the last 30 days.
3. Gift cards for VIPs
Gift cards can also serve as loyalty boosters. You can send automatic messages with a special gift card triggered once a new customer appears on your top customer list. This allows you to show your appreciation and effortlessly look after the most loyal customers.
In this campaign, the word ‘special’ is key. Your gift card engine must provide you with a text editor to write a personalized message. The point of distinguishing the most loyal customers is to appreciate their commitment with unique offers not available to new clients. The trick is to ensure that the receivers are aware of how ‘special’ and ‘exclusive’ those gifts are. This is why you need gift card software which does not only provide unique codes but can also wrap them into a personalized message.
4. Birthday and anniversary campaigns
Gift cards are the perfect way to strengthen relationships with customers. You can leverage special occasions such as birthdays or anniversaries and send your customers a personalized gift card.
Here, we come to one of the critical issues – integration possibilities. To trigger a birthday or anniversary gift card, you won’t be scrolling through your customer list every day looking for a matching date. The connection between your gift card software and CRM should be more than enough. Besides CRM, there are plenty of other tools you’d probably like to plug in to make the workflow straightforward and user-friendly. It’s good to know if you can integrate your existing toolkit into the gift card infrastructure to create a consistent customer journey.
5. Referral programs
You can use gift cards as referral rewards for both advocates and invited friends. In the simplest scenario, you can offer a $5 gift card as a sign of appreciation for endorsement and encourage new customers to purchase with another card or a discount.
You need a gift card software connected with your referral program engine. An effective promotion strategy, sooner or later, requires more than one type of incentive. To make the most of its potential, it’s nice to have coupon codes, cart-level discounts, loyalty and referral programs and finally, a tool to manage the entire system simultaneously. The easiest and most beneficial option is to invest in software which provides all the puzzle pieces at once – a Promotion Engine.
6. Flash campaign with gift cards
Gift cards are perfect for playing with psychological marketing like the loss aversion phenomenon – a proven customer preference to avoid losses much more than acquiring new gains. An example of such a gift card promotion might look like this: “We’ve added an extra $10 to your card for purchases made today. Hurry up, the balance will be gone by midnight!” Another great example of this gamified tactic are mystery gift cards – a similar campaign was run by Bellroy for Black Friday.
Besides some knowledge about loss aversion and marketing psychology, it is crucial to reach customers efficiently and deliver the message on time. Emails, SMS, and live chat are the most popular channels which you can use to send automatic but still personalized messages with gift cards. Each of these channels can be a good choice, but only when combined together do they really work best. Whatever channels you decide to use, keep in mind that people are striving for a genuine omnichannel experience these days.
A good gift card management system is harder to come by than you might expect. With a range of solutions available on the market, each built with different use cases in mind, make sure to do thorough market research before making a choice. Voucherify is an all-in-one gift card software that meets all the checkboxes for flexible and user-friendly digital gift card management.
Build your next gift card campaign with Voucherify