Use Holiday Gift Cards to Capture Last Minute Sales

Published on January 4, 2022
Written by
Filed under Selling Channels
Read time 5 Minutes

According to a National Retail Federation survey, 90% of shoppers in 2015 were still buying gifts the week before Christmas. Plus, procrastination is in this year (and last), per Marketing Land, who reported that online sales in the days leading up to Christmas (namely, December 22nd & 23rd), saw their biggest year-over-year increase. A survey completed in December, 2015 by Cashstar showed that 70% of online shoppers were planning to buy gift cards at the last minute. In fact, online gift card sales are growing by 29% per year, and over $100 billion is spent on gift cards annually.

If you’re not offering gift cards, or not promoting them in every way possible, you’re missing out on sales.

How to Provide Online Gift Cards

Most folks are familiar with physical gift cards. They are shipped to shoppers just like any other purchase. They have a cost and it takes time to create and print them. They do, however, seem more substantial than electronic gift cards.

Electronic gift cards are truly last minute gifts. They are easy to create, don’t cost anything to produce, and can be immediately emailed to a buyer or gift recipient.

At the minimum, an online merchant should always offer an electronic version of a gift card. If you don’t have one yet, you can design one quickly through Canva.

Know the Rules

New rules for gift cards went into effect on August 22, 2010, according to the Federal Trade Commission. Here are some important facts:

  • Money on a gift card cannot expire for at least five years from the date the card was purchased, or from the last date any additional money was loaded onto the card. If the expiration date listed on the card is earlier than these dates, the money can be transferred to a replacement card at no cost.
  • Fees for inactivity can be charged only after a card hasn’t been used for at least one year, and you can be charged only once per month. But you may be charged a fee to buy the card or to replace a lost or stolen card.
  • The expiration date of a card must be clearly disclosed on the card, and fees must be clearly disclosed on the card or its packaging.

State law supersedes federal law on gift cards, according to the State Gift Card Consumer Protection Laws 2013 Update. Some states – but not all – have adopted rules that give consumers protections above and beyond the federal protections. For example, some states prohibit gift cards from ever expiring.

You can check the rules for your state here.

How to Market Gift Cards

You’ll want to set up a separate category or menu item on your website for gift cards. This way they can be offered year-round.

Here are some tips to market gift cards during the fourth quarter:

  • Feature banners on your home page letting people know about gift cards
  • Include information about how quickly they can get physical cards if offered, or that it takes just a few minutes to order an electronic gift card
  • Send emails regularly, and especially right before the holiday, about your gift cards
  • Provide gift card offerings in social media posts
  • Create social media banners, such as those on Facebook or Twitter, featuring your gift cards
  • Use Facebook ads and other social media and online ad opportunities to promote last minute gift card options

Don’t miss out on last minute shoppers. Offer gift cards, and market them thoroughly. Those sales will make your holiday season even sweeter!

Header image courtesy of Target and Little.

Written by


I'm Joey, ShipStation's Content & Social Media Coordinator. I spent over a year on ShipStation's Support team which has given me great insight into our product and our customers. Outside of work, you'll find me writing, getting into one of Austin's great microbrews, or relaxing on a trail with my mutt.

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