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Branded gift cards

Looks like a credit card...acts like a gift certificate

7:29 pm on Jun 3, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

We're still in the 20th century when it comes to gift certificates. We have paper certificates that are filled out by hand at the time of issue. We do keep electronic files that match the value of the certificate with its number and have the ability to redeem them online, but we're still miles behind what others are doing.

Several competitors offer gift certificates that look like branded credit cards. I'm not talking about the ones with the Visa logo, these are the ones that just have our brand on the front and can have any value assigned to them.

As mentioned by another member in a recent thread, receiving these gift card have a feeling of holding cash in your hand. My perception is that they seem to have more value than a paper gift certificate of the same dollar amount. Furthermore, they can be used by marketing in promotions, sales reps. as a thank you for an order, or even customer service as a form of a refund or credit.

I'm doing some research and have found a couple of sources (not nearly as many as I was expecting to find), but am not really sure what to expect. Does anyone have any experience with these? Are there questions I should be asking from vendors, or any potential problems that I should be aware of?
9:13 pm on Jun 3, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member lorax is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

The previous thread mentioned above: [webmasterworld.com...]
1:28 pm on Jun 4, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

The only one I've used was the one I wrote about in the thread lorax mentioned, I haven't found any others like it. Their cards aren't exactly "cheap" at $1.25 each, but you figure you're typically going to be paying that much in credit card fees if you accept a credit card on a purchase of $20 or more, so in most cases you should already have that worked in as part of the cost of doing business.

Another suggestion would be to go to a company that prints plastic business cards and have them print your artwork on the front and leave the back blank, then just print your gift certificate info on clear labels and stick them on the back. Not as "neat" as the Card9 concept, but it would still work in giving your customer that "gift card feeling".

The main thing I like about these is that it's what I call "constant marketing" - if the customer doesn't use the card right away, or they use some of the balance but haven't used all of it yet, they're hanging on to it. Every time they open their wallet they're reminded of your business.
4:13 am on Jun 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Thanks digitalv. I am very intrigued by the ways you are using gift cards to build loyalty and repeat business, and I have a lot of other ideas that might work as well. On the other hand, I've run the numbers and a buck and a quarter each is a little too steep for my needs.

In fact, I'm a little flabbergasted that there aren't more options readily available. I don't need the APIs, reporting packages, and all the other bells and whistles that these vendors seem to want to provide. I really just want someone to manufacture the cards, I can handle the rest. I had thought I'd be able to find someone to do that for less than $.10 each, but no luck as of yet. Maybe I'll try getting in touch with a printer...
7:19 am on Jun 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

I have thought of doing something like this myself. The cheapest way would be to simply have a printer print cards the size of business cards with a field for the bonus or gift code.

However I have no idea how I could get the codes from my data base on the cards. I tried to print on one of my business cards, but my laser printer could not handle it. Are there any special laser printers that could do this? The only business card printer I could find was from Canon but has been discontinued and is no longer available.
5:25 pm on Jun 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I'm intrigued by this idea as well, unfortunately, I haven't gotten any response from card9 after 3 emails.

I'm thinking these could be quite effective when given out to customers in our physical stores to be used on our website, as the bulk of our physical visitors are tourists who will likely not return.

Now I just need a provider who replies to emails, or lists a phone number.
9:24 pm on Jun 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Hmm what address were you emailing? I always get a response from the support mailbox, never tried any of the others.
9:42 pm on Jun 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I tried sales, implementation, and support _at_card9 over a period of 4 days with no response. Maybe my emails got flagged as spam- I've heard nary a word...
7:47 pm on Jun 13, 2010 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

If you want to do it in-house, you could get a card printer (i.e. Zebra P100i) for about a grand. Once you have the printer, the PVC cards can be had for about $0.06 each. When you add the cost of ink you are still under 10 cents each. The startup costs might be too high, however?
2:43 pm on Jun 14, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Where are you buying ribbons at that price? Admittedly I looked into doing this myself so I could pocket some of the cash my customers were spending :) Heh. Was looking at the more expensive printers (The Fargo $2k-$4k models for a better quality print). The blank cards themselves are pretty cheap, but the color ribbons are expensive. Worked out to about 43 cents a card from the best prices I could find. Plus I'd still have to build a system that kept track of the card numbers and balances and all that. The thing about those card printers that sucks is that when a ribbon says it will print 250 cards, it's not an estimate, it's EXACTLY 250 cards whether you're using a little bit of color or a lot. They move frame by frame and burn the image you're printing onto the card, then move on to the next color cell.

If you're just doing a "coupon that looks like a gift card" in short runs, what I would do is just go to one of those companies that prints plastic business cards and have them make the fronts and leave the backs blank and then you can just stick a clear label on the back with your coupon code and instructions.
9:11 am on Jun 15, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

I have looked at various printers, including the Zebra P100i - but the problem is the affordable ones only have single card feeders. If you want to print 200 cards it means you have to put every single one into the feeder, wait untitl it has printed, than insert the next.

I will now try another solution that hopefully will work for me. I have designed two sides of the bonus cards in business card size and will order them printed on 350gr/mē postcard paper. I got a sample from the printer, the paper is stiff and coated, the feeling is almost like a plastic card. On the backside of the card I will leave a field for the bonus code which I will print on Avery Silver Heavy Duty labels and stick them on the cards.

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