Brands are diligently preparing their e-commerce websites for the Christmas season: managing products, stocks, delivery times, revamping site designs, and creating dedicated pages. Flagship products (ideal for gifts) take center stage. Particular attention is given to the gift card service, as 41% of gift card sales occur during this period.
It’s worth noting that the majority of gift card sales are made by B2B buyers, especially HR and CSE (Employee Representative Committee) departments. This preference arises from the fact that these entities are looking for an ideal way to provide employee benefits while benefiting from social charge exemptions in accordance with URSAFF (French Social Security Contributions Collection Agency) rules.
Brands with gift card services have two approaches to entering the B2B market. The first is to establish a specific path for professionals, selling directly. This allows them to maintain control over their margins but requires strong brand recognition, internal resources, and an appealing catalog. The second approach is to distribute their gift cards through partners such as interCSE (inter-Committee for Employee Welfare). This method provides a quick entry into the B2B market but demands meticulous brand image management and margin considerations.
In either case, brand proactivity is essential to stimulate B2B gift card sales. Here are some avenues to explore for enhancing visibility and increasing B2B gift card sales.
Selling Gift Cards Directly to Professionals
Reengage Your B2B Client Base for Christmas
If the brand is not new to this endeavor, it likely already has a customer base that has previously ordered gift cards. In this case, the simplest and quickest approach is to launch an email campaign to this existing customer base.
One email campaign can be sent around the beginning of the holiday season (mid-October) to remind them of the benefits of the service.
Another campaign can be sent between November and early December, featuring a more assertive email with a clear call-to-action (CTA) to order gift cards for their employees. Generally, orders tend to concentrate in the last week of November and the first two weeks of December, with most orders placed no later than December 15th.
Prospecting New Clients
As the holiday season approaches, prospects are more receptive to offers and are often in search of employee rewards distribution systems.
Prospecting can be done through platforms like LinkedIn, or by attending CSE (Employee Representative Committee) or incentive employee trade shows. It’s also important to keep an eye out for tenders, as some CSEs of major corporations use this method.
End-of-Year Referral Program
In B2B, there’s nothing quite like networking to uncover new business opportunities. Given that Christmas is a favorable time for such initiatives, launching a referral program with your existing B2B client base can be highly effective. Be sure to clarify the terms and conditions of the referral program.
Creating Social Media Campaigns
To boost the visibility of the B2B gift card service, digital advertising remains an effective channel, especially during the Christmas season, between October and mid-December. Platforms such as Facebook and, more importantly, LinkedIn are particularly suitable for launching campaigns.
During these campaigns, it’s crucial to explain the key benefits of the B2B gift card, including its speed, flexibility, and convenience. Furthermore, emphasize the service’s strengths, such as its omnichannel nature, dedicated operator support, a range of available denominations, and handling of deliveries, among others. Explain why employees will appreciate the gift card and how both CSEs (Employee Representative Committees) and HR departments will save time with this service.
Towards the end of November and through mid-December, it’s wise to adjust the advertising message to target last-minute shoppers. The primary message during this period will be: “Order gift cards with a few clicks, and we’ll take care of sending them to your employees on your behalf.” This approach highlights the simplicity and convenience of the service, which can appeal to companies looking to provide last-minute end-of-year gifts.
Multi-Distribute Your Gift Card to Partner Retailers
There are various partner retailers interested in gift cards. Primarily, these include CSE (Employee Representative Committee) and incentive platforms. Two systems exist:
- Employees of client companies have access to a catalog of gift cards at advantageous denominations (partner retailers reduce their commissions).
- CSEs allocate a monetary amount, and employees have access to a catalog of gift cards to spend.
There are also general, local marketplaces, loyalty programs, cashback platforms, and more.
Targeting New Distributors Before Christmas
Continuing to expand your network of distributor retailers is essential to be on as many platforms as possible based on your strategy. Ideally, you should have increased the number of partnerships with retailers to the maximum by early October. Why such a deadline? First, you need to formalize legal and commercial conditions, set up connectors, test flows, prepare visuals, and more. These tasks take time before becoming operational.
However, be mindful of the quality of distributor retailers concerning your strategy. If you are targeting only CSE platforms, for example, you should stick with this approach.
To expedite the process, most brands go through an aggregator. The advantages are that it already has a network of partner distributors, the brand connects only once to the entire network, and assistance is provided for contracts and billing.
Some brands choose to highlight contests directly on reseller’s platforms. For example, they offer one or several gift cards as prizes through a random drawing. The conditions to participate in these contests are generally related to purchases made during a defined period in the stores of the respective brand.
Create Advertisements on Platforms During the Holiday Season
Partner retailers plan spaces on their platforms to promote their client brands. These spaces are typically paid for and can include product placements in the catalog, banners on the homepage, and more.
The key for brands is to showcase their gift cards, but more importantly, their brand identity. The messaging here is crucial.
Create Newsletter Inserts
Partner retailers regularly send emails to their end customers: the platform users. This is often done around key times like back-to-school season, Mother’s Day, the moving season, Christmas, etc. Brands have the opportunity to communicate directly to the end customers of these platforms through this channel.
Temporarily Increase the Commission
Partner retailers are compensated with a commission for each gift card sold. The commission rate is established in advance. However, a brand can decide to temporarily increase the commission to encourage retailers to boost gift card sales during a specific period, such as the Christmas season.
How to Negotiate Campaigns with Partner Retailers?
Everything comes with a price, including various types of promotion on partner retailers’ platforms. There are different ways to negotiate these campaigns:
- Fixed and One-Time Price: This method simplifies margin calculations and is often preferred for branding or awareness campaigns.
- Commission Increase: This approach ensures that the partner retailer has a strong incentive to boost sales. It’s particularly useful for short-term sales increases, like during the holiday season.
- Pre-Negotiation: During initial commission negotiations when setting up a contract between the brand and the retailer, the brand can include a predefined number of campaigns throughout the year in the package.
Each approach has its advantages, and the choice often depends on the specific goals of the campaign and the relationship between the brand and the retailer.
Loyalize Gift Card Holders After the Holidays
Now that visibility during the holiday season has been established, the results are in. More gift cards have been sold through partner retailers or directly to employee representative committees (CSEs) or HR. This means there’s an equally large number of gift card holders ready to redeem them at the brand’s stores.
The questions to consider now are: how to motivate spending and how to foster loyalty among these new customers?
Firstly, the customer experience must be optimized from start to finish.
Secondly, if the gift card received by the customer is compatible with mobile wallets, a communication channel is available. The brand can then send push notifications to cardholders. For example, “We’ve just released a new collection, consider coming in to treat yourself with your gift card.”
Once the gift card has been spent in stores, maintaining the relationship with the customer is crucial. How was their overall experience? Did they like the products? Are there similar products they might be interested in? Etc.
Even better, by identifying these customers as having already used a gift card in your database, you can compile a list of customers more likely to give a gift card to someone else during the next holiday season. Since they’ve already experienced and appreciated this process, their chances of doing it again are significantly higher.
Just like in B2C, B2B gift card sales should be accompanied by marketing campaigns focusing on communication and promotion during the holiday season. If the brand doesn’t take the time to work on this aspect, it could miss out on additional revenue and a customer acquisition channel for the new year.
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