As a vendor in the employee benefit & reward space, choosing the right technology to power your eGift card offering is probably not a decision you have to make often.
It is one of those business-critical decisions that arise only rarely, but with the global gift card market expected to hit an eye-watering US$ 750 Bn by 2026 – making the right decision from the outset is crucial.
In this article we consider some key criteria to help ensure you make the right choice for your business and your customers.
The big questions
A common misconception around eGift card platforms is that “they’re all the same”. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
Starting with the obvious points, here is a checklist of things to raise at the very beginning of your discussions.
What is the true cost of your solution?
Most platforms will be able to supply a clear figure for both their setup and ongoing costs. These could include how many brands you will have access to, extra fees for features that seemed standard or hidden monthly or transactional charges. Don’t just settle for a rough estimate; you might regret it once the first invoice arrives.
How many retailers do you have, and how many are open value?
Beyond asking about retailers on the network, remember to examine the takeup for open-value rewards. These bring flexibility to your clients and their employees – giving them the opportunity to purchase an eGift for the exact value they need, say £132 as opposed to whatever happens to be in stock, say £100.
You can expect a huge sales boost from offering rewards at any denomination, but not all brands opt for this model. That’s why you have to dig deeper into open-value networks offering “hundreds of retailers”.
As a final point here, some brands also choose not to work with certain types of businesses, due to brand equity or margin concerns. Always check how many are signed-up to deliver rewards for your specific use.
Can I keep my existing brand relationships?
When you move from one solution to another, you might have a few partnerships worth keeping hold of. Your provider should offer a very simple way of retaining these brands and commercial terms, and without passing them onto anyone else.
What is the process for onboarding new brands?
Some platforms let you integrate with hundreds of retailers in one hit. For others, you could be looking at two weeks per brand. If you like the idea of growing your reward network, ask how easy it is to integrate new retailers.
Which countries do you cover?
If you’re a global business, or have goals for international expansion, you should prioritise with a global eGift card solution. This gives you the power of reaching more clients and customers across the world through just one supplier, instead of having to contract, integrate and maintain relationships with multiple parties.
How many transactions per second can you support?
Bulk ordering and delivery are two features worth having. To get a gauge of just how fast and efficient your technology is, request their transactions per second. As a general point of guidance, 5 per second is a reasonable figure to aim for.
What discounts do you have, and do you charge a margin on the discount?
Most eGift cards can be acquired with some form of discount. For example, WeGift offers savings as high as 25%, but you’re generally after a reduction of around 5% on a blended average.
An important consideration in regard to the discount is whether the eGift card provider retains a margin on volume or whether there is a simple flat monthly fee. Is there transparency and do you have visibility over the original gift card discount and branded reward?
How many features do you release per month?
Find a provider that listens to its users and undertakes proactive measures to satisfy them. The result tends to be the development of new features, or the addition of new brands.
WeGift adds approximately 2 new retailers per week to the network. If your platform hasn’t evolved in a good few years, don’t expect it to carry you into the future.
How easy is your set-up process?
A quick, pain-free implementation – capable of being handled by any non-technical worker – cannot be understated. How long does it take to integrate with your platform? Do I need IT resource to get started?
One of the big points to raise is around the API documentation. In an industry where 40-50 page guides are commonplace, you should be looking for partners that make everything clear and simple.
What level of reporting do I receive?
Data drives decisions. If you cannot gather insight on eGift card usage, current spend, popular brands, spend by client, both accurately and in real-time, you could be missing a trick.
Look for platforms that provide detailed reporting, in real-time. Something you can log into. Make sure to ask how often new reports are updated, and what’s being refreshed.
The hidden questions
Cost, choice and usability are all things you should naturally look out for. But what about the factors that tend to slip under the radar?
You don’t want to sign up to a technology and spend half your time getting to know their customer service department. From our own experience of dealing with employee benefit providers, here are some of the questions that rarely get asked.
Do you have a direct relationship with your retailers?
Not all providers have a direct partnership with the brands in their reward network. Some choose to acquire their eGift cards via third parties, which can weaken your link in the supply chain.
Direct partnerships allow you to run exclusive promotions, negotiate better commercial terms, improve security, and much more. If you need further information on the importance of buying your eGift cards directly versus going through a third party, be sure to read our blog.
Do you have exclusive retailers?
Another way of assessing your provider’s reputation and clout is to see how many exclusive partnerships they hold. If you see a lot of potential for one brand that cannot be found elsewhere, it’s always a good sign.
Can I run promotions, and do you charge extra for them?
Running a Father’s Day campaign alongside a specific brand might seem relatively straightforward. However, you’ll need permission from the retailer in question. A supplier that does not have strong ties to their brands might struggle to facilitate this.
Some tech providers also charge extra for promotional activity. If you want to make better use of eGift cards around key periods, remember to request details on your level of access.
How reliable is your platform?
When assessing reliability, ask for client references, details around the platform’s uptime and any recent pen tests. It might even be worth asking your IT staff to come up with a few additional questions. That way, you can be sure that it’s approved by experts.
How do you enable me to scale?
Scalability should be a huge factor for groups with an eye on expansion. A good platform will make it easier for customers to deliver the rewards they need to anyone, at any time. It should offer an extensive network of brands, packed into a service which is viable for companies big and small.
Am I charged for new additions outside of my plan? (E.g. retailers, regions, features)
Leading platforms evolve in tandem with their users’ demands. They add more tools, brands and markets to keep everyone happy and engaged.
Unfortunately, some platforms end up scoring an own goal by charging for each of their new additions. You then have to make a calculation of the value to be had by integrating a new feature.
The best technologies break down the barriers to growth. They want their users to succeed, and so all changes are packaged into the existing service, at no additional cost.
How is WeGift different?
In need of a platform that hits all your key criteria? Here are some facts about our own solution:
Choice: WeGift is home to the industry’s largest network of brands. Through our direct relationships, and API-powered solution, you can integrate with over 500 retailers around the world in one hit. We do not charge for adding new options and, to make things even sweeter, you can onboard your existing partners through a fast and simple process.
Speed: We deliver every eGift card in the time it takes to send an email. That means no delays; just the rewards you need, when you need them.
Discount: WeGift is the only solution in the market to offer you the full discount for your employee benefits offering. We only receive a flat fee, you have visibility over the original discount and branded reward.
Integration: After a set-up process that won’t cause the usual headaches? Our clear and concise documentation is made for non-technical workers. You could be up and running inside one week.
Efficiency: Thanks to the wonders of instant, on-demand rewards, the days of stock management are over. You no longer have to worry about dealing with multiple invoices, payment terms, routes to fulfillment and contacts. Every order goes through the same easy process, with reconciliation happening within 10 minutes. You save operational time and money alongside WeGift.
Reliability: If you’reafter advice from a neutral party, we can put you in touch with five large companies that took fewer than two days to integrate WeGift. Why not see how they’ve found their journey so far?
Have a few questions that still need to be answered? Get in contact with our team today.