300 Seconds: Gift Card Inventory

I hate to do this to you, but we need to start thinking about the upcoming holiday season.

Today, we’re going to focus on gift cards and certificates.

If you use plastic gift cards with custom printing, it can take 6 to 8 weeks to get the cards printed. The wait can be even longer during the busy holiday season or if you’re implementing a new design. So if you want to ensure you have enough cards to last through the end of year, it’s time to take inventory now.

These are the steps you need to take.

  1. Run a report in your POS to see how many cards or certificates you sold during the last 6 months of 2013. We’re not looking for a dollar amount, but for the quantity of units instead.
  2. Count the number of existing gift cards or certificates you currently have on hand.
  3. If the answer in step 2 is significantly greater than the answer of step 1, you should be fine. If it’s just slightly larger, it’s time to begin the reordering process.
  4. Don’t forget to check the quantity of gift card presenters on hand.

This is also a good time to review your gift card policies. Do you have a policy for lost or stolen cards? It’s not a bad idea to post it on your website or near the registers in your store. According to usa.gov:

Under the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009, gift cards and other similar cards cannot expire within five years from the date they were activated unless the expiration date is clearly disclosed. The law also prohibits an inactivity fee on gift cards except in certain circumstances, such as if there has been no transaction for at least 12 months.

Full details of the law (including how your representative voted) can be found here.

If you need to reprint cards and wonder what should be included in the fine print, it might be helpful to know what the Federal Trade Commission tells consumers:

  • 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.
  • Inactivity fees 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.

I’m sorry (not sorry) if I’ve ruined your summer with this holiday talk. But just think of how poised you’ll feel in October.

Beth Golay

Beth is a reader, writer, marketer and Books & Whatnot founder. Even though she knows better, she's a sucker for a good book cover and will positively swoon if a book is set in appropriate type. @BethGolay