This week our guest is Tiffanie from Decathlon, Gift Card, Corporate Sales Manager

Hadie: Does preparing for more digital gifting have a greater importance over finding an eco-friendly printer?

Tiffanie: Decathlon gift cards are not reloadable. Hence, it’s important for Decathlon to find an eco-friendly printer to produce our gift cards. We have since 2018 changed from PVC to more recyclable board materials. This is substantial agreement that we always follow our sustainability policies within Decathlon UK. However, we have seen a significant increase in e-gift card sales during the pandemic. We are happy to learn that digital gifting has become a new fashion. With e-gift cards, we can expand the gifting experience with more flexibility for customisation, which is always the key desirable for our gift cards rather than printing material.

Hadie: Decathlon already has great brand awareness. Is loyalty as important as gift card sales?

Tiffanie: We are in need for both loyal customers and gift card sales. Decathlon is a strong European brand which established business in France 44 years ago; since then, the business has grown and expanded to 1500+ stores across 57 countries. Decathlon has a strong reputation in the Sports industry, because we specialise in different sports space: people would generally visit Decathlon for a pair of walking boots from Quechua, a high-tech bicycle from Btwin, or a Easybreath snorkelling mask from Subea. Our loyal customers already know us as a brand who can continuously satisfy their needs in sports. Hence, we would like to reward their loyalty by supplying more benefits. However, Decathlon is also looking to recruit new customers by increasing gift card sales via 3rd party channels, especially in the locations where we are still building brand awareness.

Hadie: What sales channels/ partnership solutions would transform your gift card bottom line if budget wasn’t an issue?

Tiffanie: We are interested in working with 3rd party companies with whom we can work on local communities. We see local communities as a good approach for Decathlon to “act local”. In the UK market, we are relatively new compared to other more established UK/American sports/outdoor retailers. We are hoping to work with local sports clubs or leisure centres to promote a healthy lifestyle and help the residents to understand their physical/mental wellbeing through supplying sports equipment or giving wellbeing advice via our website. Therefore, we would like to use gift cards as the media to connect Decathlon, partner companies and local communities. Our gift cards can be used online and in stores; so we can also collect visitors/customers behaviour to create more intensive data for future planning.

Hadie: What will be attributed to the growth of the gift card market over the next decade?

Tiffanie: Technologies/innovations have made gifting more accessible: instant delivery, easy customisation, mobile wallet etc. But also the new lifestyle has become a contribution, for example, increasing work-from-home office workers and contact free shopping experience. Sending a gift card/e-gift card is giving the freedom to the recipients to choose the gifts themselves. This applies to self-gifting – I can buy an e-gift card and store it on my mobile so I can pick up anything I need for my fitness class or my family needs for hiking or for any sports requirements. Meanwhile, we also learn that new sales channels create more platforms for gift cards. I can already imagine that people receive gift cards from more businesses other than employee benefits or incentives programmes; for example, from my bank for my saving interests or energy company rewards etc.

Although I also learned that the gift card industry faces new challenges. Consumers are losing their confidence with the retailers when their gift cards carry a short expiry date or are un-redeemable when a retailer closes trading. To keep the gift card business growing as predicted, these challenges must be discussed or perhaps looking to put in place some regulations. For instance, in some Asian countries, like Japan, any retailers would generally set up a trustee for the gift card liability; so card holders have the rights to claim their money back through a certain institute by providing the purchase evidence.