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Episode 20 - Gift Cards in your Shopify Store

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Hello, Scott Austin here.

In this podcast episode, I want to cover Shopify I's gift card feature. There's not a lot of documentation in the Shopify community around gift cards, so I want to help fill that void. Let's start with why a Shopify store would use gift cards. There are three scenarios that I typically see used by Shopify stores that have gift cards implemented. The first one is for those stores that have products where the gift giver may not know what choices the gift recipient would make. For example, sizing and clothing or shoes or style and jewelry, or which game to buy in a video game store. Many times a gift-giver doesn't know the exact choices that the gift recipient would make, so then gift cards make a great gift solution for them. It directs the recipient in a category that they're going to buy by eliminate to a certain store, but also gives that recipient the flexibility to get the product that they would pick themselves.

The second scenario is to give you the Shopify store owner something to market when it's too late for shipping. Look at holiday as an example. Most stores have a countdown on their site for the last day to ship and receive the product before Christmas. But as we know, many people are still shopping after those deadlines and getting those last-minute gifts. Having gift cards which get instantly delivered through email, allows you to have something to offer to those last-minute shoppers. So instead of your store being empty on Christmas Eve, you can be marketing your last-minute gift of gift cards and you give be sending out emails well after your shipping deadline. And the third scenario is to give out store money in contest and promotions. Shopify makes it real easy for you to issue a gift card to a person without them having to be on your website or to have to go through a checkout process.

You can create the gift card to have whatever value in it that you want and then the contest winner gets to use that value, but they only get to use that value in your store. The gift card feature is built into Shopify for people on the Shopify plan, which is the $79 per month plan or a higher plan. So I want to explain how the gift card process works and what levers you get in the experience and especially the design so that you can ensure it ties into your store and brand. My reason for this focus is the gift card user experience is not very robust, so any work we can do to improve it will help you build trust in your gift cards. And this is important as you should want your gift card recipients to use their gift cards. Some people look at unused gift cards is free money for the store.

I prefer to see them as lost customers. So by having an improved customer we can lose less customers. You activate the gift card feature in the Shopify admin in a gift card section. Under products there you can add gift card products. That experience is pretty similar to adding a regular product to your store except that product variants are replaced by gift card denominations, which is the dollar amounts that you'll offer your cards in. Then once you have a gift card live in your store, here's the post-sales process that your customers will see. A gift card gets its own email notification to the customer. That email is called gift card created. You can preview it's designed and content in the Shopify admin by going to settings. Then notifications, then click on the gift card, created listing and click the preview link. Near the top. You'll see that this email has the same basic branding of all notifications, those branding elements being the store logo and an accent color that gets used for both links and buttons.

Now for content, all that email has is that it tells the customer the denomination or value of the card they purchased and gives them a link to view their card. Unfortunately, there is no gift card code in that email and it's not technically possible for us to add one. The view card link goes to a gift card page on your Shopify store. That page has a gift card image with the value of the card and the 16 digit gift card code that the customer uses during checkout. That code, by the way, is automatically created by Shopify and we cannot change or edited. The customer can print the gift card page if they want to give the gift card as a present inside of a car that they're actually physically giving to someone. There's a print function right on the page or the customer can also forward the notification email to a gift recipient.

In the post-sales gift card experience, there are two elements that you as a store owner can edit to match your brand. Those elements are the gift card image and the gift card page, so let's talk about how we can improve those elements. The first is a gift card image. This is the image that is displayed on the gift card page. It's not connected in any way to the product image used in the gift card products, but it's a good idea to make them the same or similar to provide consistency in the shopping experience. Shopify has a default gift card image. You've probably seen it before. It's a red background with white elements made to look like a ribbon. The default image is stored in Shopify assets instead of store assets, so we can not edit it. I recommend that you make your own image to better reflect your store's branding.

The gift card has three elements pleased over the top of it, so they need to account for those elements as you create your custom card image. They are the monetary value of the card, which goes in the upper right. The cards code that the customer will enter at checkout. This gets placed in the center a bit up from the bottom of the image, and lastly, a mounting corners effect in two corners of the card to make it look like the card was [inaudible] mounted in these little tabs. As you make a custom image, I'd recommend the following. Use your brand's color scheme, add your store's logo, add your store's URL. You can also use images or graphics to make the cards more compelling. Then a simple color background. This will all help make gift cards look like an integral part of your holistic brand. Shopify has an article about customizing the gift card image that covers the technical details of the process.

I'll include a link to that in the show notes. Now let's move on to the gift card page. Each theme has a file in its templates folder called gift card dot liquid that is used to render the page in all the themes that I viewed. The gift card template is very basic. It typically doesn't include the standard header and for elements from the site, so you should preview what the page looks like and then determine what improvements you want to make to it. Updating it is a simple theme code edit for those that find theme code edits to be simple. So if you're not comfortable editing, Shopify is liquid code. You could hire a Shopify expert to do the work for you. Some of the improvements that can be made to this page include one better branding. Most templates, even on premium themes are very basic for this page.

For example, the turbo theme, the header includes the store name and text and not even a logo, so a better experience would be to use the store's logo and here's where you can add the custom gift card image that is designed to support your brand. Also number two, store link. The default page usually has one link back to the store's homepage in a start shopping button. Instead of sending the customer to the homepage, they can be sent to a landing page that's designed specifically for gift card recipients. It can educate the recipient on your products as the customer may have ever heard of your brand before. That page can also guide them on which products may be best for them by highlighting what is popular or seasonal in your store. Number three, the landing page idea from number two, it can be taken a step further by pushing the merchandise content right onto the gift card page. When you look at the gift card pages, default experience, there's nothing there to compel the user to engage. Sure, they have the stored value from the card that is equivalent money in the store, but you can build their excitement more to get them to engage and forth. Frequently asked questions or instructions. A great footer link would be to a page in your store that explains how gift cards work, how they can know the remaining balance and how and when they can redeem the code.

So here's my overall approach to gift cards. Step one, you should determine if your store should even have them. Most stores can operate on the $29 a month basic plan. One of the big features you gain by going to the $79 a month Shopify plan is gift cards. So you could say that the gift card feature costs $50 a month. You needed to determine if that cost makes sense for your business. Based on the expected volume of gift card purchases, your business would generate. Step two, determine if it's worth it for you to customize the gift card experience. If you do want gift cards but they don't get used often, then the time and effort you spend customizing that experience could be better used on a project with higher business value. Step three, if warranted, customize the experience. Think about the experience from the point of view of a recipient that has never heard of your brand before. Putting some effort in improving the experience can set a better tone for your brand with this new customer.

So that's what I have on gift cards. I hope this was helpful for you.

Thanks for listening.

JadePuma is a certified Shopify Expert. If you need any help with your Shopify store, we can help.