Well, maybe we should have had gift cards a long time ago, because people are sure responding well to the idea. Right now the software is in beta and will be shipped to our beta site next week (after the 1st). We've already ordered the gift cards for the store. Getting the artwork done just right was very important because the minimum order is 250 cards.
The system is a closed system, which means it doesn't require internet. Video Shoppe tracks the card usage. And it's very secure because there's really no way to spoof the system, not even from the clerks (not that clerks would ever do such a thing.) Gift cards are loaded at the end of the transaction (after you've taken the money for selling the gift card(s). You must have a card swipe unit in order to process the gift cards. These are standard credit card scanners, so if you're using our credit card interface, you can use the same card scanner. Card scanners are around $60.
We added a new inventory type for gift cards. This is what you sell. So you can make gift cards of any price. Then the history is tracked like any other inventory item. However the gift cards themselves are tracked separately as they are not related to any particular customer. That being said, we do track the last customer that used the card. And there will be reports to show you a comparison of how much you sold in gift cards, and how much is still outstanding (gift card money that hasn't been used.)
According to our research, gift cards make you money by bringing customers into your store that usually spend more than what is on the gift card. And of course there's the advertising because your store information is on the card. Because our beta tester also has a web site, we put a QR code on the back of the card so people with smart phones can scan the card and it will take them to his web site. He also has our online-movie viewer, so his customers can actually browse his store inventory right from their phones, or tablets, as well as any computer of course. The other income comes from breakage, which is not something you should count on, but it happens. (Breakage happens when cards never get brought back because people don't use them or lose them. The average breakage on gift cards is somewhere between 10% and 15%, depending on whose statistics you read.)
2012 is shaping up to be a good year already.
Happy New Year from VMT Software