5 Ways to Sell More Gift Cards This Holiday Season

For retailers, gift cards are a terrific sales opportunity. They don’t take up much space, and they provide a great way to bring in new customers. You can use them as your default return or exchange option for merchandise. When customers redeem them, they often spend more than the amount on the card, as much as 20 percent more in many cases. And in the case that a gift card is unredeemed, retailers have already collected the money.

From a customer’s perspective, gift cards are an easy solution, but in getting them to purchase from you, you have two main challenges: The first is overcoming the perception that gift cards might seem a bit impersonal or last-minute, and the second is in reminding your customers that they’re an option when they shop in your store.

So how can you sell as many gift cards as possible between now and December 25? Here are 5 helpful tactics.

1. Make Them Visible and Decorative

It goes without saying that you won’t sell gift cards if they’re hard to find. If you have physical cards on display, make sure they’re near the register. It’s a good idea for security purposes anyway — they’re usually small packages — but even moreso they may prompt the harried holiday shopper to remember that one remaining relative or friend who still needs a gift. An eye-catching gift card stand is sure to garner a few spur-of-the-moment sales. Also, don’t forget to make them visible on your website too! With the growing trend of browsing online and shopping in-store, it’s one more opportunity to put the idea in a shopper’s mind.

And if you want to keep the physical cards up near the register where you can more easily keep an eye on them, then put up signs everywhere else.

If you print your own gift cards in the store, make sure you have nice card stock available to print them on. Consider creating different types of cards, with images associated with different items in your store. Do you have a hardware section? Put an image of tools on one of your card designs. Do you have a sporting goods section? Create a card design with an image of a soccer ball or a catcher’s mitt. That way the gift card says something. “I know you like sports, so I thought you could spend this on new sports equipment.” Help make the gift card feel like more of a special, planned thing instead of a last-minute purchase.  

Tip: Print them with a barcode, so the cashier can just scan the barcode. Provide a nice envelope or other ready-to-go package, so that the shopper has less to worry about.

2. Associate Them with Best Sellers

People often buy gift cards when they aren’t quite sure what else to get, but they’re pretty sure the recipient likes shopping at that store. You can make it easier for your customers to feel good about a gift card if you can associate them with various products that they’re thinking about. All those sweaters in different colors and sizes, but they cost around $60? Put up a sign near all those sweaters that $60 gift cards are available at the register. Are there a bunch of fun items available at $10 or less? Put a sign there that remind shoppers of your $10 gift card, which would make a perfect stocking stuffer.

In Erply, retailers have the option of creating gift cards in as many different denominations as they want. Alternatively, they can create an “on-the-fly” gift card that can be rung up in any amount the customer wants. So if you’re sure about the sweater but not sure about the color and size, you can get a gift card for the exact amount.

3. Incentivize Your Shoppers

Holiday gift shopping can be a stressful experience, between figuring out what to get all the people on your list and navigating crowded stores. So why not offer something for the shopper and tie gift card sales to a promotion?

In Erply, users can create a promotion that ties a specific gift card sales amount (e.g. $75) to a specific promotional item, such as a pair of slippers. If a customer buys a gift card of $75 or greater value, then the customer receives that item for $0.

4. Incentivize Your Staff

We’ve mentioned previously that commissions are a great way to motivate your retail employees to push specific items. If you want to sell more gift cards, create a commission specifically around cards of a specific dollar amount. If you sell a $20 card, earn a dollar. If you sell a $50 card, earn $5. However you want to set the reward. Change up the commission to raise the stakes as you get closer to December 25, and see how many you can sell.

Alternatively, if you have a store-wide reward based on a total sales goal, remind your employees that up-selling each customer at checkout with a gift card suggestion will help them reach the goal more quickly. It’s as easy as asking “do you want fries with that?” and let’s be honest, we usually want fries, don’t we?

5. Leverage Social Media

If you’ve created a really nice card design, or a special promotion, or helpful ideas for things to associate gift cards with, then you need to make sure your customers know about it. Think about all the ways you can reach them.

The great thing about Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, is that you can do more than just tell your customers about gift cards. You can show them. Post a photo of one of your nice designs. Post a photo of a card next to an item, with the caption, “not sure which size? Get them a gift card”. You’re not just telling them about what you have for sale. You’re providing a solution for them. Imagine yourself as a stressed holiday shopper. What would you want to know?


In general, shoppers want the ease of a gift card combined with a feeling that the gift is somehow still personal and thoughtful. If you follow some of these suggestions, you can make sure they see your gift cards as a great way to check off their list and make a personal connection.

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