Brands, by developing their gift card distribution network, gain resources, visibility and acquire new customers. But just like any other project, it is essential to support, boost and involve each member to gain efficiency and reap the maximum benefits from this network. Since the different interested parties are independent and have their own goals, the stakes are high. What is more, a retailer is usually working with several brands, and very often, some of them are competitors.
How can a brand build a unique and privileged relationship with each member of their gift card distribution network?
Knowing and Segmenting the network’s distributors
The first unavoidable step is to get to know each partner selling the brand’s gift cards. A vast majority of brands have already set up solutions to know their customers better in order to meet their needs, and more. Now, they must do the same with their partners, who also represent business opportunities. Who are they? What potential do they hold? On which market do they operate and how does it evolve? What are their business model? How many gift cards do they buy? How often? What are the other brands in their portfolio? What marketing efforts do they undertake? …
But why exactly must brands collect information on their network distributors? Because refining their knowledge will enable brands to customize their relationship with each distributor. It will allow them to find common goals, and make their offer and brand more attractive.
Moreover, since time is of the essence, brands will be able to segment retailers into several groups to maximize each of their marketing and communication efforts. For example, the “VIP” group will receive more services and support (rewards, marketing, regular check-ups, assistance, gift card promotions, …), whereas others will have more basic assistance.
Actions to undertake in order to boost a distribution network
Become a business partner
One of the key elements to have a successful distribution network is to assist each partner, to varying degrees, in the development of their business. Building a win-win relationship from which each partner benefits is a great way to encourage the distributor to commit to the brand. Several actions can be undertaken: coordinating joint actions, making suitable services available … In the context of gift card distribution, offering assistance regarding security and protection can work in the brand’s favor. Since they are a means of payment, gift cards are an attractive target for fraudsters. Fast delivery for plastic gift cards and flexibility in e-gift card distribution are also important, as is the implementation of a reactive after-sales service.
Finally, sales support tools play a crucial role in this relationship. The brand can really set itself apart from its competitors by offering them to distributors. The more the brand facilitates their work, the more distributors will want to sell their products first.
What’s in it for the brand? More visibility and a better ROI.
Other complementary actions can make the brand look good in the eyes of distributors. For example, the gift card market and the regulations governing it are constantly evolving. Keeping them up to date with the upcoming changes and guiding them for compliance upgrades can put the brand in a good position.
Multiply marketing efforts
To further involve different members of the network, a brand can work on two fronts:
The resellers themselves: in an incentive program, the brand can pull the right levers. It can implement customized rewards programs based on the information acquired beforehand on each distributor. It will enable the brand to boost sales over a given period of time.
Final customers : with the help of the reseller, the brand can set up promotional operations on gift cards, or launch communication campaigns to increase traffic in the partner’s digital and physical points of sale. Of course, gift card holders will then visit the brand’s stores to spend them.
However, the brand should be careful, it could have several distributors in its network that are competitors. Therefore, it is important to coordinate communication and promotional actions to avoid any conflict. Within the framework of the incentive program, the brand must pay close attention to the data disclosed.
Establish regular contact with the right people
Considering the competitive context, the brand must communicate regularly with its distributors. To set itself apart in its communication, the brand shouldn’t settle for a relationship with the management team, but also communicate with the employees in the field. In addition to being able to feed back valuable information, the brand will be able to motivate and pass on the right message to employees who are in direct contact with consumers.
To have fruitful interactions that will enable the brand to progress with its distribution network, the brand must define KPIs and checkpoints. Having access to the network’s real-time performance indicators, for each partner, will help with the evolution of its distribution program. Monitoring, managing, identifying strengths and pain points… all these are key elements in order to implement the right strategies. Discussing these results with distributors will allow the brand to deepen relationships by building common strategies.
Offer support for the solution
To maintain a long-term relationship, it is essential to offer support to the various members of the distribution network for the brand’s gift card solution. It is not necessarily easy for employees to master the brand’s tools. Therefore, to make sure it all works properly, it is important to provide guidance and training directly to the distributor’s employees (on accounting, finance, marketing, sales, etc…). The easier it is, the more they will be willing to sell the brand’s gift cards.
Benefits of boosting a distribution network
The primary aim of every action undertaken is to improve the distribution network’s overall performance. Communicating regularly, providing sales support tools, assistance, customized services and joint marketing efforts, … all these initiatives lead to more committed distributors and better control over sales on each distribution channel. The brand will improve its long-term efficiency and productivity.
By standing out from the competition and providing real added value through various offers, the brand will be in its distributor’s good graces. The latter will favor it over others who will make less communication efforts for instance. If the brand wants to build a specific marketing campaign, or if it has special requests, distributors will more likely assist it and prioritize its project.
Enlivening and involving its distribution network also entails working on its brand image and brand equity. Any action undertaken to deepen a relationship with partners, or to attract customers, have an impact on brand image.
Just like brand image, any initiative set up by the brand will increase the brand’s visibility. On the one hand, distributors will more easily promote the brand’s gift card in their points of sale. And on the other hand, the marketing efforts carried will boost the partner’s sales channel, and then the brand’s (when the card is redeemed).
Having a distribution network for its gift card is profitable for a brand, provided that it implements a strategy to boost and involve distributors so they live up to their full potential.
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