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Home /  LATEST NEWS /  The Edinburgh City Centre Gift Card is here!
BY MICONEX ON 23/11/2018

The Edinburgh City Centre Gift Card is here!

Why did Edinburgh want a Gift Card programme?

Emily Johnston, Senior Marketing & Communications Manager at Essential Edinburgh, explains: “Colin Munro presented the idea following the launch in Perth; I talked to the team at Byres Road BID in Glasgow about their card and I thought it sounded like a fantastic way of corralling a spend into a specific area. For the 60-plus businesses which have come on board, it’s free money walking in through their door. 

“It’s a pre-paid Mastercard and it’s branded up for our campaign so it’s very much the Edinburgh City Centre Gift Card. It has a fabulously strong visual that goes alongside a really solid proposition to the businesses. 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.”

About the Programme

  • Name of area – Edinburgh City Centre
  • Number of businesses accepting – Over 60
  • Independents and/or multiples – Mostly national multiples, some local multiples and some independents
  • When launched – 24th September 2018
  • How it’s managed – In partnership between the Edinburgh City Centre BID (Essential Edinburgh), and Miconex
  • Gift Card website – https://edinburghgiftcard.com 

For most people, Edinburgh needs no introduction. Scotland’s capital city is a place of legend, home to the world-renowned Edinburgh Festival and Fringe Festivals, the world’s favourite Hogmanay party and the iconic Parliament building. There’s an enviable cultural scene, with many world-class galleries, theatres, music venues and cinemas in the city centre. The Edinburgh City Centre Gift Card can be bought and spent at a rich mix of national and independent shops, bars and restaurants.

Bringing in the businesses

“Miconex provided us with information about how the Gift Card works, how businesses sign up to it and how the public buys it,” Emily continues. “We then circulated it to our businesses and they signed up to timeslots for the Miconex team to explain if necessary in further detail and to swipe their card payment terminals to sign them up to the programme. We had three different days of businesses signing up, and it was a very smooth process.

“It really is a simple concept and very easy sell for the businesses.” 

How many city centre businesses have signed up to the Gift Card? “We were hoping to get 50 to sign up before we officially launched alongside our city centre marketing campaign in October, and we had over 60 signed up for launch.” says Emily. “The response to it has been good. We’ve got many more businesses who could sign up to it, so we’re working together with Miconex to increase our numbers. Our businesses wouldn’t turn away a Mastercard payment for their products or services and the Edinburgh gift card IS a pre-paid Mastercard, an additional stream of income, so there shouldn’t be a conflict of interest in accepting the card if businesses sell their own gift cards. 

“One of the businesses was very keen to have a terminal to sell Gift Cards. The business had decided to stop selling their own gift cards, but the local manager saw the potential in in the city gift card, even if that Gift Card is spent in a different business, because they see the value of getting people through their door.

“We have a fantastic mix of businesses and experiences in the city centre and the businesses signed up to the Gift Card already reflect that. As with all main shopping destinations Edinburgh has a high number of national chains, but we also have some wonderful independent businesses too.” Emily continues. 

Marketing the Edinburgh Gift Card

How did Emily’s team market a Gift Card in such a busy city centre area? “We gave out cards as part of our launch week in October 2018. The campaign launched on the Monday and we had experiential activity on the street from the Thursday to the Tuesday, in the form of a giant snakes-and-ladders-style board game with prizes for everyone that participated. Some of those prizes were the Edinburgh Gift Card, with a branded prize square of varying value, between £5 and £100. 

“The concept of the Gift Card went down hugely well with the people that won it. They thought it was a fantastic idea that they could go and get a coffee in one place, then a pair of shoes somewhere else, then have dinner. The idea behind our campaign is the wonderful opportunities that Edinburgh has – you can do anything, it’s not just going for lunch or dinner or shopping, it’s being able to do all of that in an incredibly beautiful location. The Gift Card has that exact feel to it.

“We will also be running competitions in the lead-up to Christmas to highlight the Gift Card as the perfect gift – The Gift of the City!”

The Edinburgh City Centre Gift Card was implemented in September. What benefits will it bring to Edinburgh, and to the individual businesses?

Benefits and outcome

The Edinburgh City Centre Gift Card was implemented in September. What benefits will it bring to Edinburgh, and to the individual businesses?

Benefits for the city

“The Gift Card will bring multiple benefits,” Emily says. “With more people shopping online, having an online purchase that requires an on-the-ground spend is combining the best of both – it’s a rival to buying somebody an Amazon voucher but has a bit more soul to it and gives an experience too. We know that society is moving further and further towards experiential activities, so having something that provides that as a gift to people and keeps that spend as local as possible is hugely beneficial.

“From the BID’s point of view, we’re also able to see that spend and show our businesses that the spend is being generated in our area through the programme. So the reporting mechanisms and being able to feed that back is fantastic, knowing exactly where they’re being spent and how much money is being generated for our local economy. And we can track where those spends are originating – are they Edinburgh-based, Scotland-based, or much further afield? From an analytical point of view it’s very useful information.” 

Benefits for the businesses

Two managers of businesses in Edinburgh City Centre also told us what they liked about the Edinburgh City Centre Gift Card.


Jordan Smart, manager at Barbour’s Edinburgh store, said that getting set up with the Gift Card was “very simple and straightforward, and it’s been really easy to redeem.”

Why did Jordan and the team at Barbour want to be involved with the Edinburgh City Centre Gift Card? “It’ll help to widen our customer reach,” he answers, “and potentially get new customers who haven't bought from us before.” 


Michelle Napier from Bonkers, an independent gift shop in Edinburgh city centre, agrees with Jordan Smart that the set-up process was very easy and “very well explained’. We have had a few people in using the cards, including a group of Spanish tourists. We’ve found it easy to process the sales and didn’t have any problems!”

Any advice from Edinburgh?

When Emily is asked whether she has any advice for other BID/town managers considering a Gift Card programme, she recommends reading the Miconex case studies to find out more. One of the biggest selling points, she says, is that you can track it. “We can go back to the businesses and say, this is the value that this has brought for you. And it’s not a single-year or a two-year project – you’ve got to give it time to become part of the bedrock. That’s when it becomes profitable, although as a BID it’s not necessarily about it being profitable to us but about that money being driven into the businesses. 

“And it’s ‘free’ money for people that has to be spent in those shops as a gift, and there’s often extra spend on top. 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.”

Michelle from Bonkers recommends signing up to a Gift Card programme: “We wanted to be involved because it’s one more avenue to get our name out and about and to entice more customers in the door.”

Jordan from Barbour adds: “It's a great idea as it's a versatile present to buy.”

Future Gift Card developments

As well as the successful launch of the Edinburgh City Centre Gift Card, Miconex is delighted to announce that new Gift Card programmes have recently been launched in the following nine towns, cities, or areas:

View our family of live and planned Gift Card programmes

If you’d like to increase customer footfall and engage more strongly with the businesses in your town, city 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.