August 12, 2010, 11:53 AM

Online gift cards bring a holiday boost to Texas Roadhouse

The restaurant chain reports higher load values for gift cards bought online.

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Restaurant chain Texas Roadhouse’s online sales of gift cards increased 66% last holiday season over the same period in 2008. The average load value of those cards was nearly double the amount of funds on gift cards that consumers bought inside the chain’s restaurants.

Texas Roadhouse and its gift card services vendor, Arroweye Solutions, did not release specific figures for the online gift card program, which the restaurant chain launched in 2008. But the growth in the program suggests that more consumers this holiday season will turn to online gift cards.

Arroweye’s technology—the vendor maintains the web platform through which shoppers buy the cards—enables consumers to personalize their Texas Roadhouse gift cards by adding customized designs or their own greetings. Personalized cards bought online by Texas Roadhouse customers typically carry load values that are 10% higher than cards without personalization, the two companies say.

“It’s becoming more critical for companies to differentiate their product,” says Render Dahiya, CEO of Arroweye. “Giving consumers the option to make a gift card more personal sets the product apart.”

Retailers are becoming more creative about selling gifts cards to consumers. Not only do they enable the purchase of personalized cards from web sites, they are reaching out to consumers through social networks. For instance, Cold Stone Creamery, a chain of more than 1,300 ice cream parlors, last month become to the first merchant to deploy eGift Social, a Facebook e-gift card application.

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