Customers are increasingly turning to gift cards and prepaid cards.
The global gift card market is expected to reach $2.1 billion by 2030, growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 8.3% from 2022 to 2030, according to Next Move Strategy Consulting.
Still, the recent “Gift Solutions: 20th Annual Prepaid Consumer Insights Survey” by Carat from Fiserv found 35% of U.S. consumers said they were buying fewer gift cards due to inflation. However, c-stores don’t seem to be feeling the dip.
“Over recent years, we’ve seen a rise in the use of prepaid cards for convenient and secure payments,” said Ginny Holmes, director, digital transformation for Pilot Co., which operates 800 locations, 750 of which are part of its Pilot Flying J Travel Center network, in 44 states and five Canadian provinces. “With features like budget controls, reward programs and effortless reloading options, it’s no surprise people are increasingly turning to these innovative solutions.”
At Pilot Flying J, guests can find Greendot and Netspend prepaid cards, as well as retailer-specific gift cards. The cards are merchandised on a rotating display situated at the front of the store close to the checkout area. It’s expanding its eGift card program to include more designs and customization options. Customers can purchase digital or e-gift cards on Pilot’s website or in its mobile app.
“We have seen great success with our eGift card program, which has been popular over the last year for both B2C and B2B bulk purchasers,” Holmes said.
“Digital gift cards and the ‘Pay’ feature in our app have become especially popular amongst our guests and fleet customers due to their convenience and mobility, allowing them to conveniently utilize funds instantly via email or app,” Holmes added.
Whether customers select a digital or physical gift card, either can be loaded into the myRewards Plus app and used for contactless payment at Pilot locations.
Convenience & Flexibility
Go Time, which operates eight convenience stores in Kentucky, saw a big increase in gift card sales at its stores in 2022. The company offers its own line of Go Time gift cards through its loyalty program provider and features them on a display behind the counter.
“It seems customers just want flexibility on what they are able to purchase in-store with gift cards,” said Lacey Dixon, marketing director for Go Time, adding that Go Time doesn’t put limits on what customers can purchase using the gift cards.
Holmes added that convenience is key for customers in the gift card segment. In 2023, Pilot plans to make it even easier for guests to buy Pilot Flying J gift cards by expanding its program into mass market and general stores.
Both Holmes and Dixon expect gift card sales to be up in 2023.
“We believe that the overall demand will continue to rise, which, in turn, will lead to more guests using and purchasing prepaid and gift cards,” Holmes said. “We anticipate that the convenience of digital gift cards will also remain very attractive to consumers since they are so quick and easy to share with someone.”