The family of Miconex Gift Card programmes, which saw its first launch in December 2015, has seen an upsurge in sign-ups, with the number of towns and cities in the list growing by 200% in the last 12 months.
If you’re not too familiar with Miconex Gift Cards, you might be wondering what kind of town, city or area embraces the idea of a Gift Card that can be spent across a huge range of businesses. Well, it’s every kind!
Miconex Gift Card programmes have been put in place by towns, cities or areas which have extremely resilient high streets, as well as by those who are less resilient. Some cities are world-class tourist attractions; others are less well-known. Some have large marketing budgets, others’ are more modest. They might be post-industrial towns rewriting their future, or bustling city centres full of national and local chains.
Among the 20 towns, cities and areas that have launched a Gift Card programme this year are:
Just as there are many diverse towns and cities with Gift Card programmes, so their reasons for embracing the programmes are many and varied. Throughout the year we’ve spoken to many BID managers and business operators to find out what makes a Miconex Gift Card programme such an attractive prospect.
Colin Hicks is Chair of the BID in Chichester which has one of the most resilient high streets in the UK. He explains: “There’s lots of change in the high street. We’re funded through a levy from the 600-plus businesses and it’s up to us to spend that levy usefully. So we’re always looking for ideas which are cost-neutral or even levy-neutral or profitable. With The Chichester Gift Card we would be raising money through breakage on the card, which is additional money contributed by the consumers, in order to keep the shops open and the city vibrant and thriving.” Breakage, the money not spent on the cards by the expiry date, averages at 10-15%.
Emily Johnston, Senior Marketing & Communications Manager at Essential Edinburgh, states that the data generated by spend on the Gift Cards is vitally important. “The reporting mechanism from Miconex allows us to see exactly how much money is in circulation and where it’s being spent, which will enable us to show the value of it to those businesses that are involved as well as to those that aren’t yet. I’m sure as those reports start coming in and we start feeding those back, we’ll get even more of our businesses signing up to it.”
Colin Hicks of the Chichester BID says it’s important that the Gift Card covers a huge range of types of business. “We’re not just retail, we’re also food and drink and services, so we must provide services for people working in offices, public sector, charities, dentists and fitness studios, as well as in shops.”
Helen Hames, Marketing & Commercial Manager of the Cambridge BID, agrees: “We like that the Gift Card isn’t sector-specific, in that it works across any businesses in the BID area, but it is location-specific.”
In Wolverhampton this diversity of businesses is evident. Fans of Wolverhampton Wanderers will soon be able to use Enjoy Wolverhampton Gift Cards to see their favourite football team play. Marston’s pub and brewery chain, a significant employer that has its head office in the city, sells it at their shop and on their tours.
Miconex Gift Cards can be spent anywhere that has a Mastercard terminal, so that includes eating places, concert venues, beauty salons, sports and leisure facilities, estate agents and, yes, even dental surgeries!
Branding and visuals
For every Gift Card programme, Miconex designs an individualised Gift Card and fully branded e-commerce website as part of the package. “[Our card] is branded up for our campaign so it’s very much the Edinburgh City Centre Gift Card,” says Emily Johnston. It has a fabulously strong visual that goes alongside a really solid proposition to the businesses.”
People who redeem gift cards on average spend 40% more than the value received. As Emily Johnston remarks, “It’s ‘free’ money for people that has to be spent as a gift. If you’re spending your £50 Gift Card on dinner, and your bill goes above £50, there’s always going to be that additional spend, that feeling of, ‘Well, it’s an extra bottle of wine – that’s all we’re paying for.’ That increased spend is hugely beneficial.”
Neil Combe, former BID Manager at Crieff Succeeds says that the Crieff Card works for them because, “We wanted something evident and tangible on the high street. It’s very difficult to measure the effect of, say, supporting an event and then measuring any increased footfall in businesses as a result. The Crieff Card is a tangible way of doing that. It gives the businesses a real sense that’s something’s being done.”
Cherry Shine, Wolverhampton BID Director, agrees: “The Enjoy Wolverhampton Gift Card really helps us showcase our mix of brands and independent stores, shops, businesses, restaurants and cafés. It gives us a product we can market and promote around. It shows that we are absolutely dedicated to supporting our businesses and we can use that message to encourage people who want to shop locally, to ‘spend local and support local’.”
Colin Hicks from the Chichester BID finds that the Gift Card “is a unifying thing. If one of the very well-known businesses signs up, others are saying, ‘If they’re having it, then I’ll have it as well.’ So there’s that solidarity working between businesses, which is what we were really keen to see.”
Neil Combe of Crieff Succeeds adds, “It creates a positive feeling that we are doing something to help the economy. There’s a sense of the business community all working together.”
Gill Neill, Manager of the Elgin BID, says that it’s simply a great way to bring shoppers to the high street. “As a BID we’re trying to encourage people to shop local and support local businesses. So this is an ideal way of giving people that opportunity.”
Helen Hames of the Cambridge BID agrees: “One of the points - that the card couldn't be used online, that it had to be used in person - was really attractive to us. We’re also working with local partners to make sure that the message is out there, not only from a consumer point of view but also encouraging corporates within the city to switch to the Gift Card for long-service awards, bonuses, gifting, etc. Corporate gifting and awards encourage people who might live outside Cambridge but work in Cambridge to come in and explore the city. That’s really important for us.”
Susi Mason, a Salisbury BID director and owner of Casa Fina, an independent home and fashion store, adds: “There is no more direct way to boost shopping activity in the city than with a Salisbury-wide gift card. This is a fantastic innovation to show support for local businesses while giving the cardholder complete choice in how they spend the amount gifted.”
Great for “experience” gifting
Many BID managers have noticed a trend towards experiential gifts, and a Miconex Gift Card is the ideal way to gift an experience. Of course, recipients can buy products from shops, but they can also buy a haircut, a coffee, a meal, a trip to the cinema, a beauty treatment, a swim or a live show.
Louis Navarro is founder and owner of local restaurant chain Nanna Mexico. Luis believes in social commitment and giving back to the local community, which is one of the reasons he signed up to the Love Cambridge Gift Card programme: “It’s a good way to keep the money in the location and to regenerate the local businesses,” he says. “The initial benefit is creating the awareness that there is a way to spend money locally, and why it’s important to do so. In the long run, as that awareness takes off and the more we see how big online businesses operate, people will see the many benefits of shopping local and making sure their money stays as close as possible.”
Vasos Varnava, from independent jeweller T.H Baker in Wolverhampton, adds: “We want people to enjoy what we’ve got here, and there is a lot. The way to do it is to work together and say, ‘With this card you can shop anywhere here, you don’t need to go anywhere else. We’ve got it all here.’ There are some huge businesses that are a part of this. It’s the best Gift Card – there’s nothing that covers as many stores as this one.”
BID teams are busy; business owners are busy. So any new project or programme has to be simple to implement and easy to use.
Helen Hames says, “We had been looking at Gift Card programmes for some time, but we wanted one that is set up like the Miconex programme, so not requiring too much from businesses in terms of additional technology or point-of-sale material. Setting it up has been quite straightforward. Once the businesses understand the programme and what they need to do to get involved, it’s a simple process.”
Even for a large national business with its own software systems, such as John Lewis, the set-up is simple. “It was very, very easy,” says Graeme Booth, Partner and Operations Manager of John Lewis Cambridge “We had great support from the BID team; we had a personal visit that took under two minutes, then we were up and running. We have our own systems here at John Lewis and we adapted them very quickly. I was really surprised at how easy it was.”
Jordan Smart, manager at Barbour's Edinburgh store, agrees, saying that getting set up with the Gift Card was “very simple and straightforward, and it’s been really easy to redeem.”
Colin Munro, Managing Director of Miconex, looks back on a successful year of Gift Card Programme launches: “2018 started with 10 live Gift Card programmes and ends with 30; it's been a busy year! It's also been interesting for everyone at Miconex, working with such a wide range of clients who represent over 6,000 businesses in all corners of the United Kingdom.”
Reflecting on what makes Gift Cards work so well, Colin says, “The Gift Card programme is such a simple concept, but it delivers real value for our clients and their business communities. I like the way that it changes people's behaviour; when someone receives a Gift Card they need to look to see where to spend it, so it opens their eyes to what they have on their doorstep. Every Gift Card received is the start of a new journey as the recipient researches where to spend it, makes a trip into town, finds a new favourite business and quite possibly spends more money than they intended to!
“It also encourages advocacy among consumers and within businesses. What better recommendation of a place is the giving of a town/city Gift Card?”
Looking to the future, Colin and his team are excited about the many new developments planned for 2019: “There are already 10 new programmes lined up ready to launch, and we can't wait to roll out our new smart city rewards programme, Mi Rewards I have warned the team that 2019 might be even busier!”
If you’d like your town, city, county or area to benefit from a Miconex Gift Card programme and/or a smart city rewards programme, it couldn’t be simpler to find out more. Our approachable, knowledgeable team would love to talk to you about how we can help. Please call 01738 444376 or email [email protected].