Major Breakthroughs in the Evolution of Gift Cards
Gift cards, also known as gift vouchers, are prepaid stored value money cards given by retailers as a means of promotion and goodwill. The idea of gift cards originally started with paper gift certificates given to customers, employees, and partners as a gesture of thankfulness and recognition. Since its introduction, gift cards have remained highly popular among customers, as it relieves them from the dilemma of purchasing a specific gift.
Gift cards have evolved rapidly with the changing face of business around the world and this is one of the other reasons attributed to its growing popularity worldwide. They have grown into more advanced forms perfectly attuned to all the latest technological developments in order to serve the customers in all ways possible. The following are some of the major breakthroughs in the evolution of gift cards.
The idea of using gift cards started in 1994, with the first plastic gift cards introduced to the market. Blockbuster Entertainment was the first name to introduce plastic gift cards and it carried no value until activated. Neiman Marcus and the Mobil Oil Company followed the suit and began offering gift cards to their customers. Mobil began by giving gift cards to customers which could be used in gas stations and for making phone calls.
Many other companies also realized the usefulness of gift cards and started introducing them to their business models. The introduction of plastic cards was a viable upgrade over the traditional paper certificates, as it helped in reducing many of the fraudulent practices and losses that were common with paper gift certificates. What’s more, features like the convenience to use and the lack of ability to replicate the gift cards helped it gain more favor among customers.
E-gift cards, also referred to as digital gift cards, have revolutionized the way rewards and other benefits are transferred onto customers and employees. E-gift cards have barcodes and QR codes in them, which allow them to be printed, scanned, or even cashed-in from mobile devices of recipients. This has made the process even faster, which made it possible to instantly send gift cards to customers, employees, and others via an email or through a smartphone.
Incentives and rewards
Gift cards have now become a highly popular option for transferring incentives, rewards, and recognition onto customers, employees, and partners. They offer better flexibility and customization than a cash reward, as gift cards enable the recipients to purchase the products according to their preferences. Moreover, it is a much simpler and straightforward way to offer incentives and rewards to the recipients.