Gift Card Business Model: Setting Up Your Business

Gift cards have become a popular choice for both businesses and consumers in recent years. They offer a convenient and flexible way for customers to shop and provide businesses with an effective tool for increasing revenue. If you’re looking to set up a gift card program for your business, this section will guide you through the process and highlight the benefits of implementing this business model.

Key Takeaways:

  • Gift cards are a valuable tool for increasing revenue and customer loyalty.
  • Customers purchase preloaded cards that can be used as payment at your business.
  • Gift cards can be physical or digital, and the redemption process may vary.
  • Benefits of selling gift cards include increased brand awareness and improved cash flow.
  • Starting and implementing a gift card program requires careful planning and consideration.

How Do Gift Cards Work?

Gift cards are a convenient and popular way for customers to make purchases at your business. Whether they are physical or digital, gift cards follow a simple process that benefits both the customer and the merchant.

The Gift Card Process:

1. Customers choose the amount they wish to load onto the gift card and pay for it upfront.

2. The gift card can then be used to make purchases at your business, either online or in-store.

3. When making a purchase, customers present the gift card to the cashier or enter the gift card details online.

4. The cashier verifies the gift card balance and deducts the purchase amount from the card.

5. If the purchase amount exceeds the available balance, customers can pay the remaining balance using an alternative payment method.

6. Gift cards can be used multiple times until the balance is fully depleted or expired, depending on the terms and conditions.

Whether it’s a physical gift card with a magnetic strip or a digital gift card with a unique code, the redemption process is similar. Digital gift cards may require customers to enter the code during the online checkout process or present it on their mobile devices at the point of sale.

Overall, gift cards streamline the payment process for customers, making it easy and convenient while generating revenue for your business. It’s a win-win situation for everyone involved.

Benefits of Selling Gift Cards

Selling gift cards offers numerous benefits for businesses. Not only do they provide a convenient gifting option for customers, but they also serve as effective marketing tools that can increase brand awareness and improve cash flow. Here are some key advantages of selling gift cards:

Increase Brand Awareness

Gift cards act as mini billboards, promoting your brand every time they’re seen or used. When recipients open their wallets to use the gift card, they are reminded of your business, helping to reinforce brand recognition and create a lasting impression.

Improve Cash Flow

One of the biggest advantages of selling gift cards is the upfront revenue they generate. When customers purchase gift cards, the payment is received in advance, providing an immediate boost to your cash flow. This infusion of cash can be especially beneficial for small businesses looking to manage expenses or invest in growth initiatives.

Appeal to Younger Consumers

Gift cards are particularly appealing to younger consumers, who value the flexibility and convenience they offer. By selling gift cards, you can tap into this demographic and attract a new customer base that might not have otherwise patronized your business.

Expand Customer Base

Gift cards also have the potential to bring in new customers. When recipients use their gift cards, they may visit your business for the first time, leading to increased foot traffic and potential future sales. Gift cards can act as a gateway to acquiring and retaining customers.

Corporate Gifting Opportunities

Gift cards can also be used as corporate gifts, allowing businesses to show appreciation to employees, clients, or partners. Offering custom branded gift cards for corporate gifting can strengthen business relationships and create opportunities for referrals and strategic partnerships.

Boost Sales During Holiday Seasons

Gift cards are especially popular during holiday seasons, as they make convenient and versatile gifts. By selling gift cards, you can capitalize on this trend and boost your sales during peak shopping periods.

Overall, selling gift cards offers a range of benefits, from increasing brand awareness to improving cash flow. By incorporating a well-designed gift card program into your business strategy, you can leverage these advantages and enhance your overall success.

Benefits of Selling Gift Cards
Increase brand awareness
Improve cash flow
Appeal to younger consumers
Expand customer base
Corporate gifting opportunities
Boost sales during holiday seasons

Starting a Gift Card Program

If you’re considering starting a gift card program for your business, one of the first decisions you’ll need to make is whether to offer physical or digital gift cards. Each option has its own advantages and considerations to take into account.

Physical Gift Cards

Physical gift cards are the traditional choice and provide customers with a tangible product to give as a gift. However, they can be more costly and challenging to implement. Here are some key points to consider:

  • Design and Production – Physical gift cards require design and printing. You’ll need to work with a printing company or gift card provider to create professional-looking cards that represent your brand.
  • Inventory Management – With physical gift cards, you’ll need to manage inventory and ensure you have enough cards in stock to meet customer demand.
  • Distribution – Once you have physical gift cards, you need to decide how and where to distribute them. Options include selling them in-store, offering them online for shipping, or both.
  • Presentation – Physical gift cards offer the advantage of being presented in an attractive cardholder or gift box, enhancing the gift-giving experience.

Digital Gift Cards

Digital gift cards, also known as e-gift cards or virtual gift cards, have gained popularity in recent years. They are easier and quicker to set up, offering convenience for both businesses and customers. Here are the key considerations for digital gift cards:

  • Instant Delivery – Digital gift cards can be sent via email or text message, allowing for immediate delivery to the recipient. This is particularly beneficial for last-minute gift-givers.
  • Reduced Costs – Unlike physical gift cards, digital gift cards eliminate the need for printing, packaging, and shipping, resulting in cost savings for your business.
  • Easy Management – Digital gift cards can be easily managed through an online platform or gift card provider, making it simple to track sales, redemptions, and balances.
  • Mobile-Friendly – With the rise of mobile devices, digital gift cards are compatible with mobile wallets and can be easily redeemed using a smartphone.

Ultimately, the choice between physical and digital gift cards depends on factors such as your target audience, budget, and business model. Whichever option you choose, you’ll need a point-of-sale (POS) system that supports gift card transactions to seamlessly integrate your gift card program into your business operations.

Implementing a Gift Card Program

To successfully implement a gift card program for your business, there are a few key steps you need to follow. Whether you choose to offer physical gift cards, digital gift cards, or both, proper setup and execution are crucial for a seamless customer experience.

Research and Choose a Gift Card Provider

Before diving into the setup process, take the time to research and select a gift card provider that aligns with your business needs and branding requirements. Look for providers that offer customization options, such as personalized designs and messaging, to create a unique gift card experience for your customers.

Physical Gift Cards

If you opt for physical gift cards, you’ll need to design and order them from your selected provider. Consider incorporating your logo, brand colors, and any special promotions or offers onto the card. Additionally, establish clear gift card policies, including terms and conditions, expiration dates, and any restrictions on redeeming the cards.

Steps to Implement Physical Gift Cards Checklist
Design and order physical gift cards
Establish gift card policies
Train employees on gift card transactions

Digital Gift Cards

For digital gift cards, you’ll need to set them up in your point-of-sale (POS) system dashboard. This will enable customers to easily purchase and redeem digital gift cards securely. It’s essential to ensure that your e-commerce website is capable of selling and accepting digital gift cards, providing a seamless online shopping experience.

Steps to Implement Digital Gift Cards Checklist
Set up digital gift cards in the POS system dashboard
Ensure e-commerce site supports digital gift card sales

Implementing a comprehensive gift card program involves careful planning and attention to detail. By selecting the right gift card provider, designing visually appealing physical gift cards, and setting up an efficient system for digital gift cards, you’ll be on your way to offering a valuable and popular payment option for your customers.

Tips for Running a Successful Gift Card Program

Running a successful gift card program can greatly benefit your business by increasing gift card sales and generating customer loyalty. Here are some proven tips to help you make the most of your gift card program:

1. Enable Digital Wallet Integration

Make it easy for customers to store and use their gift cards by enabling digital wallet integration. By allowing customers to add their gift cards to popular mobile wallets like Apple Pay or Google Pay, you provide them with a convenient way to access their gift card balance and encourage repeat purchases.

2. Offer Customization Options

Give your customers the ability to personalize their gift cards with customization options. This could include allowing them to upload a photo or choose from a selection of designs and messages. By offering customized gift cards, you create a more personal and memorable gifting experience, increasing the chances of repeat business.

3. Suggest Gift Cards to Customers

Train your staff to suggest gift cards to customers as a convenient and versatile gifting option. Encourage them to highlight the benefits of your gift cards, such as the ability to choose the perfect gift and the flexibility to use the card at their convenience. By proactively promoting gift cards, you increase sales and introduce new customers to your business.

4. Partner with Local Businesses

Expand your reach and increase gift card sales by partnering with other local businesses. Cross-promote each other’s gift cards, offering them for sale at both locations. This not only broadens your customer base but also strengthens your presence within the community.

5. Use Gift Cards as Thank-You Gifts and Rewards

Show appreciation to your loyal customers by using gift cards as thank-you gifts or rewards. This not only reinforces customer loyalty but also encourages repeat business. Consider offering gift cards as rewards during promotions or as a gesture of gratitude for valuable feedback or referrals.

6. Analyze and Optimize

Regularly analyze the performance of your gift card program and make necessary adjustments to optimize its effectiveness. Track metrics such as gift card sales, redemption rates, and customer feedback. Use this data to identify areas for improvement and refine your strategies to increase gift card sales and customer satisfaction.

By implementing these tips, you can maximize the success of your gift card program and drive increased sales. Remember to continuously evaluate and improve your program to stay ahead of the competition and meet the evolving needs of your customers.

How Companies Make Money from Gift Cards

Gift cards offer companies various revenue streams and contribute to their overall profitability. Here are the main ways companies generate income from gift cards:

  • Revenue from card sales
  • Overspent balances
  • Unspent balances
  • Gift card program fees
  • Monetizing gift card data

When customers purchase gift cards, companies earn revenue from the sale of the cards themselves. This initial purchase provides an immediate boost to cash flow.

Overspent balances: When customers use their gift cards to make purchases and exceed their card’s value, they typically pay the remaining amount out of pocket. This results in additional revenue for the company beyond the original value of the gift card.

Unspent balances: Not all gift cards are fully redeemed, and companies can retain the unspent balances as revenue. While this may vary by jurisdiction, it can be a significant source of income for companies.

Gift card program fees: Some companies charge fees for gift card transactions or offer premium gift card programs with additional benefits, generating additional revenue streams.

Monetizing gift card data: Companies can leverage the data collected from gift card transactions to gain insights into consumer behavior, preferences, and spending patterns. This data can be used to inform targeted marketing strategies or sold to third-party businesses, providing another avenue for revenue generation.

By combining these revenue streams and effectively managing their gift card programs, companies can not only enhance profitability but also establish a stronger presence in the market.

profitability of gift cards

Revenue Streams from Gift Cards

Revenue Stream Description
Card Sales Revenue generated from the sale of gift cards
Overspent Balances Revenue earned when customers spend more than the card’s value
Unspent Balances Revenue retained from unredeemed gift card balances
Gift Card Program Fees Fees charged for gift card transactions or premium program offerings
Monetizing Gift Card Data Utilizing gift card transaction data for targeted marketing or selling to third parties

Different Types of Gift Cards

Gift cards come in various types, catering to different preferences and needs. Here are the different types of gift cards you can choose from:

1. Virtual Gift Cards

Virtual gift cards are a popular option that can be redeemed online. They provide convenience and flexibility for recipients to make purchases from the comfort of their own homes. Virtual gift cards are usually sent via email or SMS, making them an excellent choice for last-minute gifts or when physical delivery is not feasible.

2. Barcode Gift Cards

Barcode gift cards feature unique barcodes that can be scanned at the register or point of sale (POS) terminal. They are commonly used by retailers and restaurants, allowing customers to easily redeem the card’s value. Barcode gift cards offer a seamless and quick checkout experience, making them a convenient option for both customers and businesses.

3. Plastic Gift Cards

Plastic gift cards are the most widely recognized and traditional type of gift card. They are typically made of durable plastic and can be swiped or inserted into the card reader at the register. Plastic gift cards can be customized with your brand logo and design, offering a tangible and visually appealing gift option for customers.

4. Custom Gift Cards

Custom gift cards are a great way to showcase your brand’s uniqueness and personalization. You can design custom gift cards with various designs and messages that align with your brand identity. Personalized gift cards can boost the emotional connection between the recipient and your business, making them more likely to redeem the card and become a loyal customer.

Each type of gift card has its advantages and suitability for different business models and customer preferences. Consider your target audience and goals when selecting the type of gift card for your business.

Virtual Gift Cards Barcode Gift Cards Plastic Gift Cards Custom Gift Cards
Redeemable Online Yes No No No
Scannable at Register No Yes No No
Customizable Design No No No Yes
Tangible Gift Option No No Yes Yes

How Gift Card Programs Work

Gift card programs are a popular and effective way for businesses to increase customer engagement and drive sales. These programs allow customers to purchase gift cards that they can then use to make purchases at your business or other locations that accept the cards. Retail gift cards and corporate gift cards are two common types of gift card programs.

Retail Gift Cards

Retail gift cards are widely used by businesses in the retail industry. Customers can purchase these gift cards and use them as a form of payment at any store that accepts the card. Retail gift cards provide flexibility and convenience for both the customer and the business. They can be used in-store or online, making them a versatile option.

Corporate Gift Cards

Corporate gift cards are often used as rewards or incentives by businesses to show appreciation to their employees or as gifts for customers. These gift cards can be customized with the company’s branding and can be used at the designated locations or for specific products or services. Corporate gift cards are a great way to build relationships with employees and customers while promoting your business.

Regardless of the type of gift card program, the process is quite straightforward. Customers purchase the gift cards, either in-store or online, and the value of the card is loaded onto it. The recipient can then use the gift card to make purchases, up to the value stored on the card. The card can be swiped or scanned at the point of sale, and the purchase amount is deducted from the card’s balance.

Gift card programs provide businesses with several benefits, such as increased revenue, enhanced customer loyalty, and expanded brand reach. By offering gift cards, businesses can attract new customers, encourage repeat visits, and boost overall sales. It’s essential to promote your gift card program through various marketing channels to maximize its effectiveness.

Benefits of Gift Card Programs Retail Gift Cards Corporate Gift Cards
Increased revenue
Enhanced customer loyalty
Expanded brand reach
Flexibility in usage


Implementing a gift card program is an effective way to drive revenue, enhance brand visibility, and cultivate customer loyalty. Whether you choose to offer physical or digital gift cards, creating a seamless redemption experience is crucial for maximizing the benefits of this sales strategy. By partnering with a trusted gift card provider and following industry best practices, you can ensure the success of your gift card program.

Gift cards provide numerous advantages for businesses. They serve as a constant reminder of your brand, increasing awareness and attracting new customers. Moreover, the upfront revenue generated from gift card sales enhances cash flow and strengthens financial stability. Gift cards also appeal to younger demographics, expanding your customer base and fostering engagement.

To establish a successful gift card program, it is essential to select the right provider who can offer customized options aligned with your brand identity. Physical gift cards can be designed to reflect your business aesthetics, while digital gift cards offer convenience and ease of use. Additionally, integrating gift cards into your digital wallet and leveraging partnerships with local businesses can further boost gift card sales and overall profitability.


How do gift cards work?

Gift cards work by allowing customers to purchase a preloaded card that can be used as payment at your business. Customers choose the amount they want to load onto the card and pay for it upfront. The card can then be used to make purchases, and the purchase amount is deducted from the card’s balance.

What are the benefits of selling gift cards?

Selling gift cards offers several benefits, including increasing brand awareness, improving cash flow, appealing to younger consumers, expanding your customer base, and boosting sales during the holiday season. Gift cards can also be used as corporate gifts and act as a constant reminder of your business.

How do I start a gift card program?

To start a gift card program, you’ll need to decide whether to offer physical or digital gift cards. Additionally, you’ll need to research gift card providers, design and order the cards (for physical gift cards), establish gift card policies, train your employees on gift card transactions, and ensure your POS system supports gift card transactions.

How do I implement a gift card program?

To implement a gift card program, you’ll need to choose a gift card provider that offers custom options to align with your branding. For physical gift cards, you’ll need to design and order the cards, establish gift card policies, and train your employees. For digital gift cards, you’ll need to set them up in your POS system dashboard and ensure your e-commerce site can sell and accept them.

What tips can help me run a successful gift card program?

Running a successful gift card program involves enabling gift cards to be part of the customer’s digital wallet, offering customization options for digital gift cards, suggesting gift cards to customers, partnering with other local businesses to sell gift cards, using gift cards as thank-you gifts to loyal customers, and offering them as rewards during promotions.

How do companies make money from gift cards?

Companies make money from gift cards through various means. They earn revenue from the sale of the cards, overspent balances when customers spend more than the card’s value, unspent balances, fees charged for using the gift card program, and by monetizing gift card data through targeted marketing or selling it to other businesses.

What are the different types of gift cards?

There are different types of gift cards available, including virtual gift cards that can be redeemed online, barcode gift cards that can be scanned at the register, plastic gift cards (the most common type), and custom gift cards that can be personalized with various designs and messages.

How do gift card programs work?

Gift card programs work by allowing customers to purchase gift cards and then use them to make purchases at your business or other locations that accept the cards. There are different types of gift card programs, including retail gift cards that can be used at any store accepting the card and corporate gift cards given as employee rewards or customer appreciation gifts.