Paybefore Award Winner Buyatab Exists On the Gift Card Frontier
Consider it a frontier of payments: How best to match gift card offerings with a consumer base that is ever more reliant on mobile devices? And doing so while retaining easy portability and wide flexibility.
Among those pushing the edge is Buyatab Online Inc., a 2016 Pay Award winner in the prepaid/best retail choice category for its Whole Foods Market Gift Card. Consumers can reload the cards with as much as $500 at a time and use it to make purchases with the upscale grocer. For the moment, though, this is in-store only. Neither physical nor digital gifts cards can yet be used for online Whole Foods purchases.
It is unclear how many customers reload their Whole Food cards. In an interview with Paybefore.com, Buyatab Founder Matias Marquez linked whatever level of activity it achieves with the strength of the Whole Foods brand. “Customers like the brand and it’s a great card to reload,” he says.
Buyatab operates in an increasingly competitive marketplace where consumers are moving from channel to channel while shopping. With the increasing popularity of digital forms of shopping and purchase, operators such as Buyatab have growing mounds of data that describe how consumers buy, send and use their gift cards. He offered an example of a consumer in St. Louis who bought a gift card and then sent it to his cousin in Seattle. “There is so much cool data, like learning the distance a digital card travels, to redemption time” from analyzing such transactions.
Gift card program operators are still learning how to find new product possibilities within all that data, as well as learning how to craft digital card programs that will turn good profits. For instance, at this year’s All Payments Expo in New Orleans, Cracker Barrel Gift Cards Manager Jayne Stegemiller estimated the restaurant chain is at least “two years” away from launching a digital gift card program.
But the big online players are firmly behind both digital and physical cards. For instance, eBay gift cards chief Jenny Jeansonne said its online marketplace, which recently split from PayPal, launched its gift card program 18 months ago. As eBay operates no physical stores, it places the cards with other retailers—about 95,000 U.S. locations, she said—which serves to heighten consumers’ awareness of the eBay brand. And earlier this year, GiftCards.com, among the largest online retailers of gift cards, launched digital Amazon.com Gift Cards.
One of the next steps for Buyatab is increasing its presence in the mobile space, Marquez says. “Customers are very mobile.”