Quickstart Guide to Gift Cards on Shopify and Shopify Plus

Colorful image of various foods promoting e-gift cards and physical gift cards

Mouth.com offers gift cards on their Shopify store

Posted in Modern Business, Shopify

Retailers often use gift cards as a way to improve cash flow and increase customer engagement. For stores on Shopify, this idea got a boost last year when the company enabled gift cards for all merchants, regardless of their plan. As of now, any store on Shopify can leverage gift cards.

For background, Shopify introduced all-access gift cards as part of the company’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic. It’s possible that they will go back to charging for gift cards at certain level plans. But they promise to give plenty of warning if that happens. Plus already-issued gift cards will be redeemable after the change in the program.

In other words – for the foreseeable future – there has never been a better time to leverage gift cards in your Shopify store. 

Merchants can use gift cards for a variety of means. One of the key reasons is to improve short-term cash flow and to lock in revenue today. Once someone buys a gift card, you know that it will be spent in your store.

But retailers use gift cards for numerous other purposes as well. For example, many stores issue store credit gift cards instead of offering full refunds. Or you could issue gift cards as a part of your store’s loyalty program. In this quick start guide, we share easy steps to begin offering gift cards as a part of your Shopify store.

How Gift Cards Work on Shopify and Shopify Plus

The best part about using gift cards with Shopify is that paying using a gift card is integrated seamlessly into the online store checkout process. Once enabled, gift card codes can be entered into the promo code box and applied automatically. Gift card codes and promo codes can be used simultaneously; they are not affected by Shopify’s single promo code limitation. 

For Shopify Plus clients, there are a number of additional benefits, particularly when using the Shopify POS (point of sale). On Shopify POS, gift cards are simply another payment method during the tender process. In addition, physical gift cards can be ordered and sold using either the Shopify POS or the online store. Finally, for merchants with a single Shopify Plus store, omnichannel (selling and redeeming both online and at the POS) is built into Shopify.

For merchants with Shopify Plus expansion stores, this is a bit more complicated. But working with a Shopify partner, like Command C, merchants are able to build a true omnichannel experience using custom apps.

Integrating Shopify Gift Cards into Your Store

To begin selling gift cards, you just need to create a gift card product under Admin > Products, using your preferred denominations as variants. For the denominations, consider the typical range of transaction values for your store and select a range of corresponding prices.

Once the product exists, specify the product as a gift card product under Admin > Products > Gift Cards. Then you add the gift cards to your store collections and navigation. Keep in mind that gift card sales will not show in your sales report; they will only show in the sales report once redeemed. However, you can review issued gift card balances under your Finances Reports under Liabilities.

Critical Considerations to Make Shopify Gift Cards Work for Your Company

Shopify is unique in many ways, and gift cards are no exception. You can issue custom gift card codes that have between 8 and 20 characters, but automatically-generated codes always contain 16 alphanumeric characters. One the code has been created in Shopify, for security reasons, the code can never be retrieved. It can be sent to its associated customer’s email address, but the store administrators can never view the code after creation. (Note: However you can search for a full gift card code and the corresponding gift card will be found). 

Gift cards are only issued in fixed denominations, with a couple of exceptions. When issuing gift cards in lieu of a refund, the value can be any value. Additionally, Shopify Plus merchants using the Shopify POS can issue gift cards in any amount.

Keep in mind that there is no built-in way for Shopify customers to look up their gift card balance. Your development team can build this into a Shopify Plus store. For all other Shopify merchants, the only way to look up a balance is for people to contact your customer service team. Then the team manually looks up the balance. 

Gift cards also cannot be reloaded, by default. Again, this can be built into your Shopify store for Plus merchants, but it is not presently a feature available out-of-the-box.

How to Use Shopify Gift Cards to Increase Engagement – and Conversions

Once you’ve addressed the Shopify-specific logistics of gift cards, you’re ready to use them to boost conversions to your store. For example, using your Email Service Provider (ESP), you could give your customers the opportunity to send an “I’d love a gift card from this store” message to their friends and family, as a holiday or birthday gift idea.  You could also consider allowing social sharing of your gift card product page, to allow customers to share their interest in a gift card to their followers.

Another common use of gift cards is to increase customer loyalty and engagement. For example, you could use a loyalty partner (i.e. Loyalty Lion) to offer free or discounted gift cards to reoccurring customers.  You could also consider a program where if a customer buys a certain denomination of gift card, they receive a free gift card themselves. For instance, send a $50 gift card to a friend and get a $5 gift card for yourself. (Btw, this is only available using either apps or for Plus customers using Shopify Flow.) Or you could institute a program for a bonus gift card. In this case, a customer buys $100 or more, they receive a $5 gift card for future purchases. These are just a few examples of all the different ways your company can use gift cards as a way to build customer relationships. 

Gift cards are an excellent way to increase customer engagement, improve current cash flow, and grow your store. Once your ecommerce and development teams solve for the unique intricacies of gift cards on Shopify and Shopify Plus, your company can take full advantage of the benefits. 


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