Do you sell Gift Certificates in your Bookshop?

by Amber Short

Our bookstores house thousands of options for gifts, but not everyone is confident in choosing a title for a loved one.  This is where the almighty Gift Certificate comes into play.

If you don’t already have gift certificates in your store, it’s definitely time to consider adding them to your inventory.  You can purchase pre-designed ones at local office supply stores, and personalize them with your logo on your printer.  These are relatively inexpensive, and if you have a smaller shop, might just fit the bill without causing too much hassle.

After a couple of years of moving those, we opted to design our own, and have them printed at a local print shop.  I’ve designed gift certificates in rudimentary programs like Microsoft Word using the draw tool, and have recently started using Microsoft Publisher.  Without a doubt, there will be sexier programs than either of these dinosaurs, but they do the trick for what I want. Need ideas?  Simply google “Gift Certificates” on-line to get some layout ideas.  Getting them printed and cut at the printing shop made my life easier opting for a semi-gloss finish and having them printed on stiff cardboard gives them a more professional look.

Maybe you’re already miles ahead of me, and have been happily flogging gift certificates for ages.  To that I answer, are you selling gift packs?  Upgrading your gift certificate to a more aesthetically pleasing package makes them a sure seller.  This is especially true around the holiday season where you get those glazed-eyed-shoppers looking for something to pop under the tree on a moments’ notice.

Opting for a personalized mug is certainly the most favourable option, as it allows you to continue advertising to the buyer every morning with their coffee, as well as allowing them to connect with your store in a new way. That being said, using a regular mug, or a cute basket is fine too.  I tuck chocolate or candy canes inside, and wrap the whole thing in cellophane.  These can be made on the spot, but making them ahead of time in a variety of denominations makes a customer’s shopping experience seamless.  If you include a gift bag to tuck the whole shebang into, it makes it that much more ready made and easy to give as a gift.

If you love merchandising, you can build up some pretty neat gift packs.  Perhaps your romance package, released right before Valentine’s Day, includes a book of love quotes and some silk rose petals.

Above all, signage indicating that you sell gift certificates will alert your customers of the perfect gift, and remember to reflect your labour and cost of goods in the price of your gift packs!

2 thoughts on “Do you sell Gift Certificates in your Bookshop?”

  1. One thing to be aware of before you start offering gift certificates is that different states and countries have different laws regarding them. I’m in CT and I am legally NOT allowed to put an expiration date on gift certificates. If I’m still around 50 years from now, I still have to honor one I sold today!

    Also, if you happen to use ChrisLands as your host, you can generate a unique gift card code for use online. I normally ask people buying them in the store if they want an online code generated to go with the hard copy. Most say no, but a few ask for one. That lets people redeem it online as well, so makes it a more attractive option for people not in town, including kids away at college, etc. it’s a small thing, but can make it easier for people to turn them in… and generally I find if they turn them in, they spend more then.

  2. Getting custom mugs can be tricky too. If you don’t already have a supplier, you should be aware that some custom mug-sellers charge a set up fee in addition to a per-mug fee. Generally, if the price is less than $5-$8 a mug, you’re going to be hit with a $45-$50 setup fee (even if you’re only getting one mug).

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