[Insight Inside] The 6 Gift Card variants no one told you.

Welcome to 'Insight Inside,' a new series of knowledge posts, crafted exclusively to bring to you those insider insights that have not been spoken aloud in the retail and e-tail circles.

The first in the series breaks the biggest myth about gift cards.

Gift cards come in only two variants. Physical gift cards and digital gift cards.
There are six variants. By the end of this article, you will learn what they are and how each of them can help a retail and/or e-tail merchant such as you. They are
  1. Merchant Gift Card
  2. Multi-merchant Gift Card
  3. Category-based Gift Card
  4. Product-based Gift Card
  5. Co-branded Gift Card
  6. Private Label Gift Card
Let's understand each of them in detail.

1. Merchant Gift Card

The Model T Ford of gift cards. The variant that popularized gift cards as a viable alternative to traditional prepaid instruments such as gift vouchers. A closed loop card, it can be redeemed across all categories and products of a specific merchant. Any decent gift card solution provider can help you issue this one.
Ideal for small and medium businesses.

2. Multi-merchant Gift Card

The semi-closed variant of the above card. Meaning, it can be redeemed across all categories and products of two or more merchants. Ideal for marketplaces, both online and offline. But more importantly, you need a license from prepaid card authority to issue this card.
Qwikcilver has the necessary license to issue this variant.*

3. Category-based Gift Card

Much like the above two, but this one is only redeemable across a pre-selected set of product categories. It helps merchants to pass on category-specific discounts to their end customers.
Use it if you want to push the sales of a slow-moving category.

4. Product-based Gift Card

This one is slightly different. It addresses specific problems. On the one hand, it can be used to improve the sales of a specific SKU, while on the other hand, it can work as an excellent tool for processing customer refunds or running customer promotions.
It comes in handy when you want to incentivize customer behaviour.

5. Co-branded Gift Card

This variant is launched by a merchant in collaboration with a brand. Since both the merchant and the brand gain from it, this is run as a semi-closed loop, co-branded gift card program.
Your go-to tool if you run a marketplace that sells products from multiple brands.

6. Private Label Gift Card

This one is the optimal mix of Merchant-specific, Category-based & Co-branded variants. The card is redeemable on all products across different categories, but belonging to a merchant’s white label.
Go for it if you have your own private label and would like to push it.

So, are physical/digital options a marketing gimmick?


That is the beauty of a gift card. It is form-agnostic. It is almost a moot point to repeat that gift cards are better than traditional prepaid instruments. Each of the above six variants works equally well as a paper (physical) and an e- (digital) options. This is not to say that physical and digital options do not have any advantages of their own. They bring their own value. Let’s understand them better.

Form dictates usage.

The physical and digital options can be further sub-divided into six forms.
  1. Voucher-like Plastic Card - Traditional mode for distributing gift cards.
  2. Magstrip Plastic Card - Helps faster acceptance at the store POS level.
  3. Barcode Plastic Card - Helps faster acceptance at the store POS level.
  4. E-gift Digital Card - Enables instant delivery via e-mail, SMS or WhatsApp.
  5. URL-based E-gift Card - Helps capture customer details.
  6. Merchant wallet - Delivers e-gift card directly to customer wallet
Qwikcilver’s gift card product suite contains capabilities to launch all the six gift card variants in any of the six forms.
Click here to know more.

*This is applicable only in select countries

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