August 1, 2012, 3:25 PM

More retailers plan to offer gift cards that mobile shoppers can use

61% of retailers in a survey plan to do so over the next three years.

Kevin Woodward

Senior Editor

Lead Photo

Mobile gift cards may become more common.

Many retailers appear poised to adopt digital gift cards that consumers can order and redeem using their smartphones. That is the finding from an Aberdeen Group study of 100 retailers that found 61% of the merchants plan to offer mobile gift cards over the next three years.

Consumers can order digital gift cards from retailers’ e-commerce or m-commerce sites. Transaction Wireless, an online gift card company that commissioned the Aberdeen Group study, says recipients receive their digital gift cards via a link sent to their e-mail addresses or via text if a mobile number is provided. Mobile gift cards may present a bar code displayed on a smartphone’s screen that retailers can scan at the point of sale, if they have optical scanning equipment. Or retailers can enter a numeric code also displayed as part of the gift card’s bar code, says Transaction Wireless.

Currently, about 15% of the retailers surveyed offer digital gift cards that can be used with smartphones, Aberdeen Group says.

Retailers see many benefits of offering mobile-enabled digital gift cards, the study found. 51% of retailers cited convenience as a benefit, and 42% liked that mobile gift cards are available to consumers anytime and anywhere. Other benefits include the ability to personalize the card, 28%; improved brand awareness, 22%; and low total operational costs, 20%.

Transaction Wireless says the average load for a digital gift card is approximately 10% to 15% greater than for a plastic card, depending on the industry segment. In 2011, payment processor First Data Corp. says $42 was the average value loaded onto retailer gift cards.

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