Downtown Dollars, The Boro Gift Card is a programme for Downtown Peterborough in Ontario, Canada to replace its existing paper Downtown Money system, with a goal of taking Gift Card sales from $15,000 to $100,000.
Downtown Peterborough’s new Boro Gift Card will be powered by Miconex and EML Payments and is the latest initiative from the Peterborough Downtown Business Improvement Area (DBIA) to support its businesses in the pandemic era and beyond.
Joel Wiebe is the communications manager for Peterborough DBIA and says the new Gift Card will be a welcome improvement for customers, businesses and the DBIA:
“Our Downtown Money system was more like a paper gift certificate and has got a lot more popular lately, but was really onerous to run and the customer experience was average. We had to give each certificate a serial number, when a customer used the certificate we’d scan in the certificate and visit the business to reimburse them. A lot of hours each week were spent on administration for Downtown Money. If we wanted to achieve $100,000 in sales with Downtown Money, we’d need a full time staff member purely to manage the administration.
“The other problem with the paper system was that Downtown Money could only be purchased in $25 or $50 amounts, which meant it would only get used in certain places where transaction values were higher, such as outdoor stores or on a nice dinner. Cafés and sandwich shops completely missed out. As a result, not all businesses were actively using Downtown Money and if a customer tried to pay with Downtown Money, they’d sometimes be turned away.
“This experience factor was a major reason for us wanting to switch to the new Boro Gift Card with the technology to enable customers to pay for even small transactions with the Gift Card. This will open up the scheme to a lot more places. Businesses don’t have to make a big effort to be a part of the programme as it uses payment technology that they already have, and they’ll get the money straight away instead of having to cash in Downtown Money. The experience for our traders will improve too.
“Even though Downtown Money got more popular with the pandemic, it’s not something we pushed much as a DBIA because of how difficult it was to manage the administrative side of things. With the new Boro Gift Card we can be more proactive in how we market it. Corporate orders will be a priority but the Card will be more attractive to customers also. Add in businesses selling the Cards and we have a whole new customer base.”
Another initiative introduced by Peterborough DBIA are the Holiday Shopping Passports where customers get a stamp for every $10 spent, and a chance to win three $500 prizes and one $1500 prize for completed passports. They also introduced a Digital Services Squad to help small businesses adopt online technologies. Joel Wiebe believes the pandemic has accelerated adoption of digital technology for its businesses:
“Before covid, we had a business running their whole inventory off 1980s programme MS-DOS who now have an online store. Yes, it’s been hard but people are investing in digital and we have accelerated around 5 years in digital adoption. For the first time, I had owners coming to me and asking what grants we had available. By mid-March we had someone working on digital transformation for our businesses, way before the federal grants came in.
“What I try and remind businesses is that online stores aren’t just for selling, they’re also for people who are doing their research who still want to visit the actual store to buy. People want the experience and the expertise of visiting an actual store. You’re always going to have people shopping with large online retailers and in the big box stores, but independents will continue to adapt and survive. The new Boro Gift Card is part of that.
“People will buy the new Gift Card. We get asked all of the time if we have a multi venue Gift Card similar to the big restaurant cards and now we can finally answer that we do. The Boro Gift Card can be used in the store, restaurant, café or other venue and they can be used online too. It’s an easy way for people to shop local and for employers to buy in lieu of Christmas parties.
“We’re heading into a new era for our downtown but with our initiatives including our new Boro Gift Card, we are stronger than ever.”
*Card is issued by PACE Savings & Credit Union Limited. Card funds are not insured by the Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation (CDIC) or any other government deposit insurer or agency.