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Selling Gift Certificates In Store...And On Your Web Site

Friday, March 30, 2007

It's a smart idea to sell gift certificates both in your store and on your Web site, notes Toni Ivey, president and co-owner of Georgia-based OmegaNet, Inc. The firm is an Internet specialist for the gift industry and the designer of more than 200 e-commerce Web sites for wholesalers. Here, Ivey offers some pointers for boosting store sales using this dual certificate strategy.

Once you have a retail Web site set in place, your attention will need to turn to how you are going to let the “world” know about it. Gift certificates are a fantastic way to raise awareness for your site and increase store sales, both on the Web and in your store.

Two kinds of gift certificates you can offer are online certificates that can be used only in the store and in-store gift certificates that can be used only on the Web. Generally speaking, online gift certificates must be printable, and should state they will only apply toward full-priced items and that only one certificate can be used per visit. To be sure your Web-only gift certificates remain secure, have code numbers on them that are not sequential. A less-than-reputable site visitor's gift certificate code number might be 1001, so he or she might also try to use the number 1002. If the person who had purchased certificate 1002 hadn't used it yet, that dishonest customer could. Store owners can typically authorize code numbers for their certificates, so stagger your codes, for example, three, five or ten numbers apart.

Gift certificates with expiration dates give more of an urgency to use them. But make sure an online gift certificate does not have an expired expiration date. It is important that customers know your Web site is up to date. An expired certificate is a sure way to make the customer think you are out of business – or at least not keeping the Web site current.

Use store signage to promote online and in-store gift certificates, especially at the check-out counter. The sign can read something like: "No time to pick up a gift today? Select the perfect gift that's always appreciated... A gift certificate from XYZ Gift Store! To purchase an online gift certificate, go to"

Be sure to remind customers that online gift certificates are ideal for local or long-distance wedding gifts, shower gifts, baby gifts and more.

Note: Ivey can be reached at 800-726-1423 or Her firm also operates the B2B Web portal