It’s a great present for friends and family - this is the obvious one!
Name of city – St Albans
Size of population – Around 60,000 in the city; over 140,000 in St Albans district
Number of businesses accepting – Over 100
Independents and/or multiples – Both
When launched – 9th November 2018
How it’s managed – By the St Albans BID
Gift Card website – https://stalbansgiftcard.co.uk
St Albans in Hertfordshire has its roots in the Roman age, and has grown from a market town in Medieval times to a vibrant city, with a rich mix of Tudor buildings sitting alongside modern developments. From St Albans it’s an easy journey into London, and many residents commute daily, but it’s thriving in its own right, too, with great theatre, music, independent shops and national stores. St Albans city centre was also shortlisted in the champion category of the Great British High Street Awards 2018. Vanessa Sharp, who manages Business Liaison at St Albans BID, describes it as “a buzzing city with a family demographic”. We caught up with Vanessa to find out more about the St Albans Gift Card.
“We met with Colin several times and he explained how the Card scheme would work,” recalls Vanessa. “To us it seemed a really good way for us as a BID to help our levy-payers in locking in expenditure into their shops and services. The beauty of this scheme is that it isn’t just shops that can benefit – absolutely anyone can make use of it. Restaurants, hairdressers, beauticians, even our professional services can sign up to accept the card. So it’s a really good way for us to be able to provide a great benefit to our BID levy-payers. That’s why we decided to go ahead with it.”
“Colin Munro and Marc Blake from Miconex came and spent a couple of days with us, and they signed up the majority of our businesses. We signed up several more once they left; it really is a very simple process to register businesses to accept the card. Marc also trained us in fulfilling online orders, which we manage in the office and post out to the lucky recipients. We have two shops that sell the card and I attended their in-store training session with Marc. He provided documentation that we give to the shops as a guide, should they forget what they’re doing or get stuck. Actually, though, they have never phoned us to say, ‘I don’t know what I’m doing!’ So it’s clearly worked well and they all know how to process card orders and transactions.”
What kinds of businesses have signed up to accept the St Albans Gift Card? Vanessa says, “It’s independents, nationals, restaurants, pubs, beauticians, hairdressers, The Abbey Cathedral of St Albans and the newly opened St Albans Museum & Gallery. So, as well as buying something new, you can also have an experience, a nice meal, get a haircut or spend it on something practical.”
“We have taken on board what Miconex have advised in terms of the marketing materials and have had a big Gift Card created,” says Vanessa, “and we’ve taken pictures of the businesses who accept the card holding this, which we then posted to our social media channels. This created a real buzz around the launch of the card and we received a lot of social media engagement.
“We’ve also supplied window stickers for participating businesses to display in their windows, so recipients of the card know where they can spend it without having to log on to the website to check. The businesses are really embracing the scheme, which is important to maintain the momentum.”
The St Albans Gift Card was implemented in November 2018. What benefits will it bring to St Albans as a city, and to the individual businesses?
Vanessa explains: “Not only is it about locking in spend to the local area but it’s also about bringing awareness of the city. St Albans has a really great high street offering with a fantastic mix of nationals and independents. Having the Gift Card encourages the recipients to explore our city and perhaps sample a shop, restaurant or bar that they might not have previously gone into. When people have a £25 Gift Card they might actually spend £35 and so it’s likely that there will be an element of overspend for an added benefit to the businesses.”
Two owners of businesses in St Albans also told us what they liked about the St Albans Gift Card.
Deryane Tadd, director and owner of The Dressing Room boutique, was keen to get involved with the St Albans Gift Card, saying, “We always want to make the shopping experience as easy as possible for our customers, so allowing the use of the St Albans Gift Card enhances this. It was no problem at all to get the system set up; our terminals are set up for all card types, so it was a very simple process.”
What does Deryane think will be the benefits to her business, being involved with the St Albans Gift Card? “It enables our customers to pay by another means and if they have the card then they are more likely to seek out the businesses that accept them.”
Emma Bustamante is the owner of Cositas, an independent home-interiors and gift shop and workshop/party venue, which sells and accepts the cards.
Emma says she wanted to get involved because “I like engaging the local community and this would boost our footfall in the run-up to Christmas.
It was easy to set up; I appreciated the one-to-one tutorial and the instructions.” What benefits has Emma seen already from selling and accepting the St Albans Gift Card? “It increased our visibility in the run-up to Christmas and showed us to be a community player.”
When Vanessa is asked whether she would recommend a Miconex Gift Card programme to other BID/town managers, she answers: “Most definitely go for it.” She advises, “You need to keep the momentum going with marketing. Obviously, Christmas is a big selling point and sales have dropped off in January as you’d expect, but we will be starting a campaign for Valentine’s Day and then Mother’s Day and so on. So it is important to think about other times of the year when people may be buying gifts and the St Albans gift card is the perfect option.”
As well as the successful launch of the St Albans Gift Card, Miconex is delighted to announce that new Gift Card programmes have recently been launched in Merthyr Tydfil, Bridgend, Shawlands in Glasgow, Exeter and East Lothian.
If you’d like to increase customer footfall and engage more strongly with the businesses in your town, city, region or BID area, it’s easy to join our growing number of Gift Card programmes. Contact us online, email [email protected] or phone 01738 444376 and we’ll be happy to talk you through the possibilities.
It’s a great present for friends and family - this is the obvious one!
It supports the local economy
It can be used as an incentive or reward by local businesses and organisations
It makes a great wedding present
or leaving gift
15% of redemptions are at new businesses
People that redeem gift cards on average spend 40% more than the value received
The card can be used in multiple business
It’s easy for businesses to get involved as the existing Mastercard network is used
It provides a new revenue stream for the town/city via breakage
It makes a great wedding present or leaving gift
It can be used as a visitor pass by offering discounted entry for attractions
St Albans has a really great high street offering with a fantastic mix of nationals and independents. Having the Gift Card encourages the recipients to explore our city and perhaps sample a shop, restaurant or bar that they might not have previously gone into. When people have a £25 Gift Card they might actually spend £35 and so it’s likely that there will be an element of overspend for an added benefit to the businesses