From the Desk of Todd Tomlin: Gift Card Innovation Showcase
It’s hard to believe that gift cards as we know them today have been around for over 15 years, originated in the same year by two Dallas, Texas-based companies in 1994. Neiman Marcus, a luxury department store, offered plastic gift cards, followed by Blockbuster video, a movie rental retailer. Since then, both companies have filed for bankruptcy, but the gift card wasn’t to blame (Thank COVID and Netflix for that).
Gift card distribution remains strong both in plastic and digital form and the channels for which they are available is numerous. Innovations on how to distribute, sell and deliver gift cards continue to evolve. I’d like to highlight a few of these innovations:
Developed to deliver a video alongside a physical or digital gift card, Livstick provides an immersive brand experience for the gift card issuer while allowing the gift card purchaser to deliver a meaningful, personalized video to the recipient. This enhances the gift card recipients experience of the gift and provides a deeper connection with the brand the gift card is for. This technology has also been leveraged outside the gift card industry allowing brands to gift most anything, even when they do not have a gift card product for sale. Brands who have used Livstick for their campaigns include Lastminute.com, M&S London, Sephora, Wonderbox and more.
Consumers receive up to five gift cards, on average, annually, and keeping track of all those gift cards can be a pain. Brands who sold the gift card may enjoy revenue off unused gift card value, but they would much rather see revenue on the gift card redemption and overspend associated with a consumer using their gift card. EZGiftCard hopes to solve both pain points. While gift card mobile wallets are nothing new, EZGiftCard is taking the wallet one step further by partnering with gift card brands to provide push notification offers to consumers who hold that brands’ gift card in their EZGiftCard wallet. This entices consumers to use EZGiftCard to organize all their gift cards in one place, and for brands to reach their unknown consumers who they previously couldn’t engage with.
The most common use for a smartphone is messaging, with 88% of consumers using their phone for such a purpose. What better way to send a gift card than through messaging? Yes, you can receive a text with a gift card today, that provides you a link to the gift card, but what if the purchase and recipient experience was as easy as messaging with an artificial intelligence (AI) platform that provides a fully customized gifting experience. InspireMe.Ai is doing just that and launching soon with the ability to send gift cards from any messaging platform.
Taking advantage of the ever-increasing capabilities of augmented reality (AR), Nudge is creating solutions that transform the gifting experience into a 4D world where the gift card recipient can interact with the gift they’ve received using their smart-phone or tablet. The gift card “lives” within the space around the recipient and provides in-depth ways for brands to connect with their consumers.
By no means is this list intended to be all encompassing on what innovations exist in the gift card industry. There are so many more to be uncovered, featured, and used by consumers and businesses alike. If you have an innovation you want to share, please drop me a line at email@example.com.
About Todd Tomlin
Todd is Chief Operating Officer of Ncentiva, a consumer electronics trade-in and gift card payout platform. Additionally, he is Managing Director of Consummo Consulting, and is considered a global expert on gift cards, stored value, branded currency and pre-paid products. He assists individual gift card brands and the supporting companies in the industry to maximize opportunities of brands, products and services through go-to-market strategy, business development, operations management, strategic partnerships and more. He previously managed Hyatt, Cinemark and Hotels.com gift card programs.