This past Christmas season, more retailers than ever—including many small retailers—sold plastic gift cards that customers could give away as presents.
One good reason you should jump on the trend: Customers who come to your shop with a gift card spend an average of 21 percent more than the face value of the card, according to the National Retail Federation.
You can order your own customized gift cards from banks that issue MasterCard and Visa. Personalize the cards with your business name, logo and Web site. The Visa or MasterCard logo must also appear on the front of the card. Businesses that accept Visa or MasterCard can use the same point-of- sale equipment to process the gift cards.
Shop around, because banks are free to charge any price they want for the cards. For example, Keybank gift cards are available in denominations between $5 and $2,500. Prices to you range from $6 per c a rd for less than 10 cards to $3 per card for 3,000 or more. For a list of participating banks, go to www.mastercard.com (click “Gift & prepaid cards,” then “Get a card”); or www.visa.com (click on “business gift card”).
Another gift-card option: Instead of creating your own gift cards, buy them from major retailers and restaurants . Then, award them to employees (for sales or performance goals) or to customers (as rewards or incentives).