It’s astounding to see what one tiny organism can do to the world.
The health impact, the social impact and very much on the radar of any business – the economic impact.
If your business relies on foot traffic, that’s a problem, as there are many fewer feet willing to step out of their homes. Even if your business is entirely online, if your product is viewed as a luxury, customers may think twice about buying it at a time when their own economic situation is in flux.
So, What can you do to help your business during these challenging times?
The Benefit of Gift Cards During COVID-19
Showing Solidarity and Commitment
Whenever times get tough, people tend to stick together, we see it all through history. People care about their bakery, butcher, gym and favorite brands. Let your customers know that buying gift cards is a way for them to show their support. People all over the world are buying Gift Cards to support local businesses. Be transparent about your business’s struggle and needs; your customers will appreciate it.
Since the decision that all Massachusetts eateries would have to close their on-premises locations until April 6th, the Boston Chefs’ Group has been calling for customers to “support your favorite spots by purchasing gift cards and merch through their respective websites as a way of showing your solidarity and investing in their future.”
Keeping Your Business Top of Mind
If like a good percentage of our clients, you provide in-person services in your spa, your salon, or your yoga studio, you’ve likely experienced a decrease in demand. Your customers may be afraid to show their faces for fear of catching or spreading the coronavirus.
The danger here for your business is: out of sight, out of mind. Even if you have a regular who uses your services every week, a two-month corona-imposed break may get her out of her regular pattern. And once she’s out, it will take an effort to get her back in.
Preempt this situation by getting your regular clients (and anyone else!) to buy gift cards so they can treat themselves post-corona. With a gift card they already paid for waiting in the wings, they’ll jump to schedule an appointment as soon as it’s back to business as usual. And once they’re back in, it won’t take much effort to keep them in.
Gift cards are the gift that keeps giving… to your business.
When a customer sends his friend a gift card, you not only earn from the gift card sale itself, but there’s a very high probability that the friend will bring you additional revenue by spending over the cost of the gift card. In fact, gift cardholders will often spend an average of $59 over the value of the gift card!
Encouraging gift card sales, therefore, is a wise investment in both current and future revenue.
How to Encourage Gift Card Sales During Corona
So there are lots of great reasons to buy – and encourage your customers to buy – gift cards during the coronavirus outbreak.
Now all that remains to be discussed is: how do you encourage them?
On Your Website
You probably already have your gift cards listed for sale on your website. Take a close look, however, at how intuitive it is to find them.
Boutique fashion company Dottie Couture features their gift cards front and center. Well, front and top right.
Kids’ clothing brand Carter’s, on the other hand, hides their gift cards ALL the way down at the bottom of their site in a crowded footer menu.
What about all those people who want to buy a baby gift, but want to let the new parents choose the clothing themselves? Figuring out how to do that on Carter’s site is not so obvious.
If you want more people to buy your gift cards, put them in your top navigation.
You could also use homepage banners featuring your cards and explaining WHY people would want to buy your gift cards specifically now.
Email marketing is one of the most powerful channels for conversions. 66% of consumers stating that they’ve made a purchase as the result of email marketing. Compare to 20% on social media.
Get the word out on your email list about all the reasons your gift cards are a smart purchase in this current situation.
In light of confinement, quarantine, and social distancing, most social media users expect their social media participation to increase.
Be where your customers are. Use your social media accounts to promote your products, services and gift cards. It might be the time to explore paid social media, like Facebook Ads, if you haven’t before.
On Your Physical Store
It’s closed? Yeah, we thought so.
Get a sign up on your store door or window (for the customers who try to peep through). Explain that you look forward to serving them when you re-open, and suggest they buy a gift card on your website (give the URL!) so they’ll be all ready to just book an appointment when things return to normal.
Through the Community
Many communities have local Facebook groups, email lists or Whatsapp groups. In a time like this, the community wants to stand by the businesses that are part of their local landscape. Some have even set up lists or directories of the local businesses and how the community members can support them. Check and see what groups and lists exist for the locals in your community, or if there are any local influencers with their own channels of communication. Make sure that you have a presence and a mention wherever you can.
We’re in this together
If the Coronavirus teaches us anything, it is to appreciate the gift that is regular, everyday life.
Meeting with friends, going to the gym, shaking hands with the customers who frequent your business… it’s not to be taken for granted.
For more ideas about using store credit and gift cards to maintain and boost your business, take a look at our post How to Build a Wildly Lucrative Shopify Gift Card Program.
Wishing you good health, stability in your business and a swift return to normalcy.