Gyft Brings Mobile, Social Elements To Gift Card Industry
Odds are you’ll receive a few gift cards this holiday season. Why not store them on your iPhone?
Introducing Gyft: a startup from TechCrunch Disrupt that’s bringing mobile and social elements to the gift card industry. PYMNTS.com spoke with CJ MacDonald, Gyft’s co-founder, to talk about Gyft’s new regifting feature, the company’s rapid growth and what the holiday season has in store for the booming gift card industry.
Despite launching just a few months ago, Gyft already has over $1 million in gift cards uploaded onto its platform. MacDonald says the number helps to illustrate just how popular the gift card industry has become.
“The average person has four or five gift cards, and a common problem for everyday people is that they forget their gift cards – they never have them on them when they need them, and our theory is that you should be able to store and manage your gift cards from your phone,” MacDonald said.
It’s a simple idea, but one that could have a big impact on a gift card industry that is surprisingly large. According to MacDonald, around $100 billion was spent on gift cards in the U.S. last year – up from $50 billion in 2008. He also cites a Boosting Company study that reveals that gift cards are the most popular gift to send and receive, and that most people would prefer a $25 gift card to a $40 gift.
“We’re really jazzed to be kind of on the front line of a cutting-edge technology in a growing market,” MacDonald said.
Gyft’s appeal to consumers is obvious. After storing a card on Gyft, consumers can redeem it in-store by calling up the card on a phone and displaying a barcode. If the store doesn’t support scanning, a clerk can key in a unique number that Gyft assigns to each card and which signifies the card’s dollar amount. Cards can also still be used to make online purchases once uploaded to Gyft using standard gift card-entry procedures.
There is also a unique social media aspect to Gyft that should appeal to both its users and to merchants that want to partner with the gift card app. Gyft connects to Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and the like, and allows users to send, regift and receive gift cards through this social channels. As MacDonald points out, consumers will be pleased by the ability to exchange gift cards seamlessly, while merchants get a simple avenue through which to advertise and sell.
“The exciting thing there is, it’s your birthday, we can send a little e-mail or push notification to your phone that says, ‘hey, it’s your birthday,’ or, ‘don’t forget to get a holiday gift, send a gift card,’” MacDonald says. “We should be seen and utilized as an additional sales channel for gift cards, as well as a way to help drive customer acquisition and customer redemption.”
MacDonald also pointed out that, contrary to popular belief, merchants actually want consumers to spend their gift cards, as unused cards simply serve as an open liability on their books. Gyft’s ability to identify and target gift card owners is something else MacDonald says appeals to merchants and brands, and should continue to help Gyft grow into the future.
“Retailers don’t really have visibility into who these people are that are holding gift cards. For example, if you were holding a $50 Target card, Target knows nothing about you,” MacDonald said. “They don’t have any way to incentivize you to come in-store.
But the great thing about what we’re doing is, we’re giving retailers a level of communication and visibility as to where these gift cards are. So the power of me being able to go to Target in the first quarter, after the crazy holiday rush, and say, ‘we have $2 million of Target gift cards loaded into our system, why don’t we push a special offer out to everybody’ … we can drive card redemption.”
To hear more MacDonald on the upcoming holiday season, the gift card industry and Gyft’s future, listen to the full podcast below.
CJ MacDonald, Gyft’s co-founder
CJ has over 10 years experience in launching early stage startups and has held various Business Development leadership roles. He has demonstrated an exceptional ability throughout his career to bring innovative products to market, attract large clients and deliver rapid sales expansion. Prior to co-founding Gyft, CJ led Sales and Business Development initiatives at Luminate and Liveops. Throughout his career he is responsible for creating and managing strategic partnerships with many of the country’s top consumer brands. CJ is a graduate from Wesleyan University and lives in San Francisco with his wife.
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