Now that the holiday gift-buying season is about to hit high gear, it might be time to investigate whether the promise of digital gift cards—cheaper (for you) and more convenient (for both you and your customers)—matches the reality. Cracker Barrel is already on board.
True, the non-digital gift card options you use now might not be particularly costly or burdensome to administer. And this low-tech way works fine. But some operators are wondering if the hands-off nature of digital cards—customers handle all aspects of the transactions online, a digital gift card solutions provider handles the back end—might make a conversion worthwhile.
That’s the thinking at 604-unit Cracker Barrel.
“Guests who count on us for good country cookin’ and genuine Southern hospitality will find the ease of ordering and using our digital gift cards any time they want, any time of day, downright convenient,” says Jordan Schneider, the company’s director of digital marketing. “And if they’re caught in a pinch and need a gift right then and there, our gift cards can save the day.”
In Cracker Barrel’s case, customers go online to purchase cards in denominations as small as $10 and as large as $500. If they want, they can then use their skills to customize the card’s appearance with photos, images and text. Purchasers also specify the date and time of delivery, which is handled via email, Facebook or the recipient’s mobile phone. Tools from the service provider, in this case Transaction Wireless, enable customers to track their gift card status in real time, and purchasers can resend the card if the recipient loses it or deletes it.
To use their gift, recipients simply print out their barcoded gift card and use it to pay their bill at Cracker Barrel. Consumers familiar with e-tickets and airline self-check-ins should have no problem using their card.
“Digital gift cards are a natural fit with Cracker Barrel’s tradition of anticipating what our guests want and need, as well as our focus on remaining relevant in our guests’ daily lives,” Schneider says.
Buying goods and services online is already a fixture in these customers’ lives, and the social media revolution has made it acceptable, sometimes even preferable, to give and receive gifts via email or other social media platforms. Let’s face it. It’s a lot more convenient to buy and immediately send gift cards via computer or smart phone than it is to go to a restaurant and make the same transaction in person, then mail or deliver the card to the recipient.
Buca di Beppo and California Pizza Kitchen have already followed suit with programs similar to Cracker Barrel’s. Expect to see more e-gift cards, soon.