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gift certificates not selling

     
9:34 am on Dec 30, 2008 (gmt 0)

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We added an option to purchase gift certificates to our website about a year ago. The customers can choose different amounts and mail/email delivery. Before we added them, we were worried about fraud so we scan carefully. We've sold almost none, and the vast majority that did sell were fraud!
I thought they were a hot item, and hoped that the sales would increase at the end of the holiday season, but they didn't!
We have all of the programming in place, does anyone have tips or experiences that can help them move?
Thanks!
5:10 pm on Dec 30, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Gift certificates are basically unsecured interest free loans, made by a customer to your company.

With customers finding out that Gift Certificates from large branded companies like recently bankrupted circuit city are soon to be worthless, they would be even more warry to buy from an ecommerce site, especially if you are not well branded.

5:18 pm on Dec 30, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Lately a lot of retailers have gone into administration, and this has affected their gift certificates. If you're unlucky it means applying to the administrator for a voucher refund.

[edited by: Rosalind at 5:18 pm (utc) on Dec. 30, 2008]

8:16 am on Dec 31, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Thank you for the replies!
Even a year ago we didn't see many sales. Many ecommerce advice articles and sites list gift certificates as a HOT item...did anyone see that they were a hot item this season?
9:14 am on Dec 31, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Here are some tips... things I look for before buying gift vouchers:
  • Physical delivery option - do you send a nice customised card with the voucher in it to the recipient? (Even if at slight extra cost)
  • Are terms are shown on the sales page. When does it expire? Can it be partially applied? Are there any limitations?
  • Does this voucher help me out? Do you offer me a smaller voucher 'as thanks'? Or free shipping for my next order?
  • Does this voucher make 'good economic sense'? Is the $50 voucher I buy as good as $50 cash to spend in your store... even better - are your $50 vouchers sold for $45? (Remember that many vouchers are never used - you can probably afford to eat the $5 from the extra business the voucher gives you plus the vouchers which never get used)

    The list won't apply to everyone; and it won't be necessary to tick all the boxes - but probably worth a thought. For me, without at least some of these, I'll just give the recipient a cheque - or ask them to pick something out from your store up to $#*$!.

  • 5:17 pm on Jan 14, 2009 (gmt 0)

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    Gift certificates have received bad publicity lately, with good reason. I've never had any luck with online gift certs.

    If/when the company folds (files bankruptcy), the consumer has to file to recoop what they can. That can be 1% or less of the value, depending on how bad the company was in debt. To file might cost more than the value of the cert.

    With the big companies folding, consumers are more wary of the small ones.

    Also, check your state law regarding when a gift cert can expire. With the publicity lately, consumers are becoming more aware that certs can really expire!

    [edited by: lorax at 1:37 am (utc) on Jan. 15, 2009]

    5:55 pm on Jan 14, 2009 (gmt 0)

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    We used to do nicely with those. Site visitors could upload their own pictures, add a dedication and choose any amount between $10 and $250. Often they'd be used as birthday, xmas gifts or for employee bonuses. Printed out on CC-sized laminated cardboard, and mailed out.

    All history now: the B/M place closed for unrelated reasons...