Mar 19, 2020

How to Set Up Gift Cards for Your Small Business ASAP

Rallying cries to support small businesses through the economic turbulence of social distancing are spreading like wildfire on social media. But if your small business doesn’t currently offer gift cards, you don’t have any way to capitalize on your customers’ impulse to support your business and bolster your cash flow

To help you launch gift card sales as soon as possible, we’ve put together a list of cheap and easy ways for a small business to offer gift cards. Because each option usually focuses on one aspect over the other, we’ve arranged this list from the easiest to the cheapest. The best news: every option is fast. 

Hot tip: Many point-of-sale (POS) systems offer gift card sales. Your easiest option will likely be to go through the POS system you’re already using. Depending on the system, you may be able to start running gift card sales within the day or the hour.

Square Gift Cards

Cost: 2.9% + $0.30 processing fee per gift card

Square, which provides POS systems to many small businesses, offers electronic gift certificates. If your business already uses Square for POS, Square Gift Cards will be especially easy to integrate. 

You can sign up for Square Gift Cards even if you don’t use Square anywhere else in your business. With their electronic gift cards, it’s one of the fastest easiest options for launching gift card sales right now

It’s free to set up Square’s digital eGift cards. When you make a gift card sale, Square charges 2.9% plus a $0.30 processing fee for each gift card. While they also offer physical gift cards, we recommend you start with the eGift cards for now, given time and social distancing restrictions. 

Shopify

Cost: Free for Shopify users

Shopify provides a free electronic gift card option for small businesses that already use its platform. If you’re already using Shopify, you can learn more about how you can easily add gift cards here. 

ShopKeep

Cost: Prices vary based on package and gift cards selected

Shopkeep, another POS system, offers gift card sales. Pricing depends on your package and the physical gift cards you choose, none of which they post on their site, so we can’t offer you transparent pricing. 

ShopKeep allows small business owners to purchase physical gift cards, so there might be a lag time while you wait for the cards to arrive, though you might be able to offer gift certificates through pre-sale until the physical cards arrive. 

Paper Gift Certificates

Cost: $0

If all this is too techy for you, you can still offer handwritten gift certificates. This option can be done at no cost to your business if you follow these steps.

  1. Create a template for your gift certificate. You can use one of the 800+ gift certificate templates on Canva to make something visually appealing. Many of them are free, but you’ll also have options to pay for others. You can also craft a pared-down design in your word processor.
  2. Print the gift certificates so that you have them ready to fill out when someone calls. You will also need to ensure you have envelopes and postage to send out the gift cards. 
  3. Sunrise offers free accounting software. Take advantage of it. Proper accounting is even more important when keeping a gift card ledger. 
  4. Implement a numbering system for your gift cards to make tracking them easier.
  5. Inform your customers that they can order gift cards now and explain how they can do it. 

Spreading the Word About Your Gift Cards

Whatever method you choose, make sure to spread the word about your gift card sales. Right now, people are eager to support small businesses, but they don’t always know how. Tell them where and how they can purchase your gift cards. 

Add an update or a new page to your website for gift cards. If you’re offering paper gift certificates, you likely won’t be able to sell them directly from your website. You should still post an announcement and maybe create a webpage for gift cards, instructing customers to call to order and explaining delivery. 

Be sure to post notices to your social media accounts and in your storefront window, even if you’re closed—that way, people passing by will know how to support you.  Post the information anywhere and everywhere you can. Send an email to your local news source to let them know that you’ve responded to social distancing measures by selling gift cards, in case they want to include you in a story. 

The key is to be transparent with your customers. If they can buy gift cards now but they won’t receive them for a couple of weeks— because you have to wait for physical gift cards to arrive or you’re in quarantine yourself— that’s okay. Communicate the delays and causes to your customers openly and honestly to avoid any miscommunication-born frustration down the road. 

About the author

Mary Kate Miller
Mary Kate Miller
Mary Kate Miller is a writer based in Chicago, IL. She specializes in covering finance (personal and business), investing, and real estate. Her mission in life is to give readers the confidence and the knowledge needed to grow their wealth by making financial topics more accessible. When she's not writing about topics like business loans, you can find her playing armchair financial advisor to the Real Housewives.

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