For Magento store owners looking for new ways to maximise revenue, gift cards could be a lucrative new opportunity. Stores operating in the consumer goods sector, selling gifts, jewellery or homewares for example, are the most obvious candidates for a successful gift card strategy. With a little creative thinking, gift cards could also be useful to a wider range of ecommerce stores, when used as a promotional tool or marketing incentive.
The simplest way to integrate gift cards into a Magento store is via a third-party extension. There are quite a number of gift card extensions available, but perhaps one of the most comprehensive and well thought out extensions is Gift Cards, from Mageworx.
The extension sets off well, with a choice of three types of gift card. Some gift card extensions only allow the creation of ‘virtual’ gift cards, which are nothing more than a code that can be emailed to the recipient. Mageworx’s extension permits emailed gift cards, print-out gift cards and offline gift cards, that can be physically posted to the recipient. Print-out and posted gift cards do add value, since many people love to actually receive something tangible, rather than just getting an email with a code in it.
Flexibility continues with the options for what values can be assigned to the gift cards created. A gift card can be configured to have a fixed value, a value selected by the customer from a drop-down, or a value input by the customer, within a range set by the Magento admin. These options are useful, as without the dropdown and input from range variants, it’s easy to end up with a page full of identikit gift card products, which differ only in the value. That doesn’t present a good user experience, so being able to set up a single gift card product which has a flexible value is a great idea.
Gift cards work much like store credits, so any gift card given to a recipient can be used in full in a single purchase or can be used as part-payment for a purchase that is greater than the value of the gift card. Additionally, if the recipient only wants to spend part of the gift card value, that’s fine too. The balance is stored, so that they can log in again at a later date and spend the remainder.
There are a number of other controls on gift card set-up within this extension, to allow the store administrator plenty of scope for properly managing the gift cards. Gift cards can be set up in different currencies and for different store views. Importantly, an expiration date can be applied too. This is important from an accounting point of view, as it’s a little-known fact that in every retail business, a small percentage of gift cards are never redeemed. An expiration date on a gift card means that the store owner is not faced with a redemption years after the gift card was issued. An expiration date of at least 1 year from the purchase date is normal.
One thing that stands out as an exciting twist is the ability to bulk create gift cards. At first, it’s not obvious why you might want to do such a thing, but the potential for using gift cards as a marketing incentive is significant. Pre-generated gift cards could be use in email promotions or as newsletter sign-up or ‘introduce a friend’ incentives. Promotions such as these don’t have to be high-value to appeal to customers, as few people can resist getting something for nothing, even if it’s a relatively small amount.
Additional customer options include the ability to add a personal message to a gift card, and to specify a delivery date for the gift card to be sent out to the recipient. These options enable the store owner to offer personalisation choices that add value to the gift card product. The store owner can also add an image to the gift card, to make it more visually appealing, as shown in the image below.
It’s a fact that forcing customers to create an account when checking out can be a real barrier for sales conversions, so it’s good to see that gift card recipients can still use their gift cards even if they check out as a guest.
Installation and Configuration
Installation of the extension is straightforward and configuration is simple too, with just a few clear steps to setting up your gift card products. It’s important to properly customise the templates used in the various gift card emails, to ensure a professional-looking presentation, but this is simply a matter of changing the wording on the templates to suit your own business, much like editing the transactional email templates in core Magento.
Mageworx offers free support for life with their extensions, and customer reviews submitted via Magento Connect suggests that the Mageworx team really do deliver on this, regularly going the extra mile to sort out any minor niggles or queries.
The Gift Cards extension is also available for Magento 2 stores.
All in all, the Gift Card extension from Mageworx is a valuable addition to your merchandising armoury. It should pay for itself many times over – both by direct gift card purchases and also by bringing in potential new customers that stay with you for life.