By Adam Hallett, Manager, Partner Operations
Take advantage of the holiday season by leveraging B2B gift card program opportunities.
Labor Day has come and gone and while most of the country is tucking in to pumpkin-flavored everything, retailers and businesses are already turning their attention to the impending holiday season. “Not yet!” I hear you cry. Well, as the Scouts say, be prepared.
This motto holds true not only for retailers evaluating their consumer business to take advantage of holiday promotions and marketing, but also pays dividends in the business to business (B2B) space where incentives are always the name of the game.
Earlier this year, I was lucky enough to attend the Incentive Marketing Association Summit in Houston where I became acquainted with Texas humidity while engaging thoroughly in discussions surrounding incentives and B2B. The conference brought together a variety of groups representing the more than $90 billion dollars spent by corporate America on incentives and rewards—a third of which is spent on gift cards. While my focus was understandably on gift cards, it was illuminating to canvas opinions from leaders in various fields from merchandise to travel. The conference was at an apt time, coming as it did just before the ever-lengthening ramp-up to the last quarter of the year.
There are two main spheres of B2B business when it comes to gift cards—loyalty & incentive programs and gifting destination sites. Both decidedly cater more to self-use than traditional gifting, but this does not mean that the holiday season is any less busy. Savvy customers and employees are looking to maximize their savings, redemptions, and rewards to send gift cards to loved ones or use those cards to purchase gifts for their nearest and dearest. At CashStar, we see December sales more than double those sales from any other month of the year! Additionally, one in four shoppers chose a specific store because they had received a B2B gift card to that store.
So, how can retailers take advantage of this lucrative B2B holiday market? Here are three suggestions to ensure merchants fulfill their B2B gift card program potential to match consumer holiday bumps:
- First and foremost, participate in channel programs (e.g. loyalty and incentive programs), which offer consumers an additional method of acquiring gift cards. Channel programs vary significantly and customers will have their favorites; if a merchant is not in a specific program the chances are that program’s customer will choose a competitor. Maximize your exposure in as many different B2B gift card programs as possible to realize the potential incremental boost.
- Second, while B2B promotions are something of a nascent business in gift cards, being open to participating in these can drive huge increases in volume. Promos can include marketing spend, deeper discounts, bundles, or any other creative incentive. If partners aren’t coming to you with promotions, consider putting together a proposal for a few key programs that fit your brand.
- Finally, take advantage of new partners that are launching for the holiday season to drive success all around. New partners and programs often generate publicity when launching which can be an excellent way to achieve product placement. There may also be pent-up demand at launch or opportunities for preferential placement for your brand. Start the partnership off right!
The above suggestions represent just a taste of the several ways retailers with gift card programs can realize an incremental boost in B2B sales for the festive period. To learn more, visit our B2B gift card program page. We’d love to hear how you’re preparing for the upcoming holiday season in the comments below!
A native of England, when not sweating it out at industry events Adam Hallet can be found working from CashStar’s headquarters in Portland, Maine where he helps clients expand their channel opportunities.