New Report Reveals Best Practices, Progress and Areas for Growth in Gift Card Programs Across Three Major Regions
PLEASANTON, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Findings from a new report1 commissioned by global branded payments provider Blackhawk Network and conducted by leading research firm NAPCO Research offer merchants an in-depth perspective of the expected and emerging capabilities of gift card programs as the retail landscape transitions from pandemic to endemic. The study, in its fifth consecutive year, identifies emerging trends, reveals areas of opportunity and highlights best practices for optimizing merchants’ omnicommerce gift card and payment programs. Expanding upon the previous four iterations, this year’s report extends the assessment to a multinational audience, adding U.K.- and Australia-based merchants along with U.S. brands.
“The global gift card market is forecasted to reach $1.4 trillion by 2026, growing at a compound annual growth rate of 11% between 2020 and 2026. This presents major growth opportunities for brands and merchants across the globe,” said Jay Jaffin, chief marketing officer, Blackhawk Network. “Gift cards have been a consistent bright spot over the last several years for both consumers and retailers, helping to ease the pain of inventory and shipping issues and even helping cash-based consumers quickly shift to a digital marketplace. This year’s analysis gives merchants a comprehensive benchmark for comparison as consumers shift to a post-pandemic mindset and brands look to elevate their gift card programs to capture their piece of a sizable and expanding global gift card market.”
The research evaluated 200+ merchants across 175 unique criteria and offers a comprehensive view into the progress and areas for growth in the consumer gift card purchase and recipient experiences. In assessing the complete gift card experience from discovery to fulfillment, merchants were evaluated and scored on expected and emerging capabilities for their digital and physical gift card offerings through desktop, mobile website, mobile app and brick-and-mortar stores, with a focus on the consumer and recipient experiences as well as the B2B bulk gift card buyer experience. Key trends and highlights from the evaluation include:
Merchants are adopting a mobile-first approach to meet the needs of consumers
Across all three countries, mobile was the highest performing of the three channels evaluated for both gift card purchasers and recipients. Mobile often acts as a bridge between customers’ digital and in-store experiences, making it a critical part of an omnicommerce gift card program. The report shows that merchants evaluated across all three regions are taking the right steps toward optimizing their gift card programs, meeting the needs of consumers seeking everywhere commerce across physical, hybrid and online experiences. However, starting to extend or think about additional ways to sell, use and deliver gift cards could drive growth even further, including:
- Increasing customization options such as offering the ability for shoppers to upload their own photo or add a personal message
- Offering flexible purchase options for the growing number of consumers buying gift cards for self-use
- Accepting new or additional forms of payment like mobile wallets, cryptocurrency, buy now, pay later (BNPL) and selling gift cards in the metaverse
Top gift card program trends by region:
- US: With well-stocked, tidy fixtures and checkstands, US merchants’ in-store gift card programs performed the strongest across the three countries scored. However, digital and mobile experiences were lacking, particularly the checkout/post-purchase experience. Creating an optimized gift card program that offers users the same positive shopping experience no matter the channel would drive the biggest improvements for US merchants.
- Australia: Australian merchants evaluated provided the strongest desktop gift card purchasing experience. Digital and mobile experiences were among Australian merchants’ strengths with strong site search, personalization and payment options. The region’s biggest opportunity lies with merchants taking their mobile efforts to the next level. Just two of the Australian merchants evaluated had a mobile app. Using an app to engage with, market and sell to customers could help drive growth for Australian gift card programs.
- UK: The UK merchants evaluated excelled with their mobile gift card programs and would be wise to double-down on those strengths as more consumers are opting to shop via their phones. Improved digital and in-store experiences—including site search and gift card landing pages—could drive growth for brands and retailers in the region as averages for evaluated merchants for those criteria categories trailed the multinational averages.
This multinational report is the first in a series related to the evaluation of merchants’ omnicommerce gift card programs in 2022. Still to come are regional reports with scoring specific to each market evaluated, including the US, Australia and the UK.
About Blackhawk Network
Blackhawk Network delivers payment solutions through the prepaid products, technologies and network that connect brands and people. We collaborate with our partners to innovate, translating market trends in branded payments to increase reach, loyalty and revenue. We reliably execute security-minded solutions worldwide. Join us as we shape the future of global branded payments. Learn more at blackhawknetwork.com.
About NAPCO Research
NAPCO Media is the parent company of Total Retail, a digital retail publication, as well as 15 other brands. Total Retail publishes daily content and holds webinars and industry events for its 70K+ audience of retailers.
Led by a former Forrester Research analyst, NAPCO Research partners with retail clients on their custom research and thought leadership needs.
1 The 2022 Multinational Merchant Gift Card Omnicommerce Evaluation is an analysis conducted by NAPCO Research on behalf of Blackhawk Network between November 2021 and February 2022. The analysis included 200 merchants across Australia, the U.K. and the U.S. and measured against 175 criteria.
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