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October 7, 2014

Retailer's CRM through Gift Card

Have you heard of companies such as Blackhawk network Or Itz Cash card ? What do they do ? Well they are into gift card for large retailers.

Last minute gifting is nightmare....Not with digital gift cards .

Gift card industry is getting popular with expansion of customer base  . It is a CRM widget, to enhance customer's connect and share shopping experiences with near and dear . CRM involves analyze the customer data & leverage the refined information back to enhance customer's experiences in Sales/Promotions , Marketing and Customer Support/Service.

The trend of gift is gaining ground amidst both large and small corporate houses. Why ?

•They are able to "Track customer purchases" and hence build analytics on buying decisions.
•They create a loyalty factor with clients and employees in the long run.

The value of the Indian gift card industry is pegged at Rs 9,000 crore.

....Gift Card , what is that .?

Gift card has a unique card number ( generated random ), does not need any activation or monthly fee , may / may not have an expiration date.A gift card can be virtual, sent to customers via email ( with advantage of no loss ) Or a physical plastic card, which customers can use at a POS or online. Customer can add initial amount , redeem and later add balance. Few cards continue to be used with top up , while some are one time cards where balance add on is not allowed.

 New Gift Card request transactions stem from any of these sources :
• Website of the retailer
• Store POS
• Customer Care IVRS Unit

Further analytics and Big data can help understand buying patterns . For this , customer data warehouse stores order-history and a record of all activities performed on the gift card. Analytics helps predicting customer preference trends  & sales-forecasting . All is comes under CRM. In essence retailer would take the feedback & personalize shopping experience of the customer based on buying habits. Purging of data is also required as there may be un-used , expired entries of cards that would make databases bulky. As per stats :  In 2012, over $100 Billion in gift cards will be purchased in the US, where over 20% of those gift cards went unredeemed or unused .

Customers may want to see real time settlement of the balances while retailer systems do this re-conciliation through jobs that run only in midnight. Sometimes , retailer sites allow customer to buy value above their balance and this threshold ( eg : 25 cents on $ 100 balance ) is again part of CRM. This implies customers are allowed to purchase upto $ 100.25. Who pays 25 cents ? This is at the cost of store from where the purchase is being made.

Ever wondered , If the retailer goes bankrupt what happens to the gift cards ? Well , they do not hold any value ( these are treated as unsecured loans ).

The approaching festive season brings lucrative opportunities for gifting across the world. Combination of Gift Card ( that too personalized ) can be an effective CRM.