Where are you promoting Gift Cards to increase holiday sales?

4th November 2013
Restaurant Gift Cards

Retail gift cards, or as the industry calls them: “stored value programs” are hot commodities; it’s estimated that 100 billion dollars worth were sold in the United States in 2012 (Source Wikipedia). As shoppers get busier every year and the people they buy for more complex, the result is a predictable increase in gift card sales for retailers; including restaurants.

Gift cards are a win-win-win for retailers because:

  • They are not always redeemed – money in the bank.
  • They encourage new visits – often from someone who is not a regular.
  • They lead to top-up spending – the recipient spends $10, but the card only had $5 left on it, so they add another $5 revenue over and above the card purchase.

So, how do you ensure you harness the potential bump in sales this holiday season?

Where to focus your gift card selling efforts

1. At the Point of Sale

For many, gift cards are impulse buys – a gift “top-up”. To create awareness, at the moment the customer is thinking about buying, try promoting gift cards at your Point of Sale. For example: An eye-catching display unit, with “empty” gift cards, at the checkout will provide an immediate boost to sales. The design of the unit is important if you are planning to reuse it. Consider a transparent acrylic design that allows you to slide new holiday-themed signage into each season. There are many options available at office supply stores or online. Remember, choose a size and style that will not block your register’s digital display from the customer’s line of sight or prevent them from easily placing their tray down.

2. Table Toppers

Regardless of the style of restaurant, table toppers are a cost-effective way to promote holiday gift card sales. However, table service restaurants have the added benefit that the checkout process occurs after the meal; so, cards can easily be added to the bill. Depending on the type of restaurant, you should consider the design and type of table topper. Folded card stock is cheap but have a limited life; while transparent acrylic table toppers have a longer usage and can have changeable promotional inserts.

3. Ads on the In Store Monitors

If you have monitors above your counter, a 10 or 15 second looped video can do wonders to improve gift card sales. In many cases, the ads can be run for several years and, if you are part of a franchise, they may have already produced one for you to use. If not, or you’re considering doing it independently, consider producing multiple ads at once, similar, but customized to different holidays through-out the year (Christmas, Thanksgiving, birthdays, end of school etc.).

4. Suggestive Selling by Staff

Like any up sell opportunity, the key to success is training and a rewards program to motivate them. Provide staff with a script, much like you would for trainee upselling and hold a competition to ensure they are engaged. During the competition provide frequent (at a minimum daily), updates on where everyone ranks. A low-cost option for prizes is exchanging gift cards with a local retailer, like a movie theater, who is looking for a similar reward for their staff. Interested in how to foster and track that competition? Learn more here.

5. Local Business Partnerships

You don’t just have to sell gift cards at your physical location. Is your restaurant at or near a mall? Consider renting a table during the busy holiday shopping season. You’ll need a way to accept payment and schedule staff you trust with a cash box and pre-loaded cards, but targeting shoppers too busy to go to a restaurant in a place where they are literally desperate for gift ideas can be quite effective. However, be sure to contact your insurance company to confirm you are insured for offsite sales.

Now that your gift card sales are growing – is it time to more actively monitor if they are being stolen? Learn more on how to prevent gift card theft by employees here.



Chief Operating Officer at LIVELENZ. Greg began working part-time in restaurants when he was 15 and continued in the industry for a decade. He then began working for technology companies developing a passion for improving operational efficiencies at fast-growing organizations.

1 Comment »

  1. […] Looking for more information on why you should be selling gift cards and how to increase their sales? Read out post Where are you promoting Gift Cards to increase Holiday sales. […]

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