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Digital vs Physical Gift Cards: Why Going Digital is the Smart Move for 2024

Posted on 12 October 2023
Read time 3 mins
Author Sophia 🌱

In the ever-evolving landscape of rewards and incentives, one debate often emerges - digital gift cards vs. physical gift cards. Sure, physical gift cards have that tactile charm, but do they really measure up against their digital counterparts?

We know you’re driving for efficient, profitable, and sustainable growth - and digital gift cards align seamlessly with those goals.

Here's why. 

1. No More Waiting, Just Instant Gratification 🚀

Let's kick off with the obvious - speed. In today's fast-paced world, waiting is so last century. With physical gift cards, you're at the mercy of snail mail, and let's not forget the odd delivery mishap or weather-induced delay. 

Enter digital gift cards: the epitome of instant gratification. In just a matter of seconds, the reward you've been waiting for or the last-minute gift you need to send is delivered straight to you or your recipient's inbox. For businesses, this immediacy is invaluable, providing an effective means of recognizing an employee's outstanding performance in real time or the opportunity to seize a fleeting customer engagement opportunity. 

Loyalty screen

2. Safe, Secure, and Easy to Manage 🔐

Digital gift cards are safer than their physical counterparts because they’re easily trackable, making it simpler to manage inventory and prevent fraudulent activity.  

The last thing you want is for your reward to end up in the wrong hands, but with Tillo's industry-leading platform, you get top-notch security features that stop this from happening.

The Tillo Platform makes it easy to track and trace transaction histories and re-issue or revoke gift card codes all in one place, effortlessly and efficiently. See it for yourself.  

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3. Sustainability Matters 💚

In 2023, sustainability is more than a trending hashtag; it's a responsibility we all share. Unfortunately, physical gift cards just don’t fit with modern-day sustainability initiatives; they often come with plastic casings, sleeves, or even full-blown packaging, not to mention that once used, they then end up in landfills. 

On the flip side, digital gift cards are as green as it gets. No waste, no unnecessary use of resources, and absolutely zero guilt, helping them align seamlessly with the eco-conscious initiatives and making them more appealing to the increasing number of consumers looking to make a positive impact. 

Personalised gift cards


4. Global Reach 🌎

If your business operates across borders, distributing physical gift cards can be a logistical headache, but with Tillo's unique API, your reach is as broad as your ambition. 

One simple integration to our gift card API, and you're connected to 2000+ brands worldwide in 37 markets and 16 currencies - now that’s the kind of global reach we’re talking about. 

Global market network

5. Cost-Efficiency at Its Best 💸

Let’s face it: physical gift cards, though traditional, are cost-intensive to produce, distribute, and manage. There's the printing, the shipping, and let's not overlook the costs related to potential loss or damage. 

Removing these operational expenses with digital gift cards means more funds to reinvest in your core business activities. And if you're feeling generous, those cost savings can be passed down to the end consumer, creating a cycle of good vibes and good business. 

Retain your customers by being able to offer powerful discounts and rewards!

6. Never Lost, Never Forgotten 📲

We've all been there - rushing out the door and leaving your physical gift card on the kitchen counter. Or worse, you've tucked it away so "safely" that even a treasure hunt map wouldn't help you find it. With physical gift cards, the risk of misplacement or outright loss is a constant concern and one that is echoed by the fact that almost two-thirds of American consumers have at least one unspent gift card tucked away in a drawer, pocket, wallet, or purse. And at least half of those consumers lose a gift card before they use it.

That’s where digital gift cards come in as the unsung heroes of convenience. In a world where your phone is often an arm's length away, a digital gift card is not just a reward; it's a reward that's practically glued to you. Living right in your mobile device, they're always within reach, stored in your email or a dedicated app.

storefront catalogue and payment mokc up on mobile phone

7. The Psychology Factor 🧠

While both cash and gift cards are popular incentives, their psychological impact is different, and it's something that businesses shouldn’t overlook. When you receive cash, be it a bonus or a gift, it's usually lumped together with other financial responsibilities. You know, the rent, the bills, and the things you 'have to' take care of. 

Gift cards, however, are used differently thanks to a neat psychological phenomenon known as Mental Accounting, which sees us categorize gift cards separately from our regular income. So, instead of vanishing into the black hole of monthly utilities, gift cards often get earmarked for 'special' purchases, making them a better choice for rewards and incentives.

But it doesn’t stop there. Gift cards can also influence how and where you spend your money. Studies show that consumers using brand-specific gift cards are more likely to pick items typical of that brand, and 90% of gift card users are more willing to spend more than the value of their gift card.

Why are incentives important? 4 ways incentives benefit your business

Ready to go digital?

Ready to make the switch to digital gift cards? Get in touch with Tillo today and see how easy it is to integrate our digital catalog into your business. 

Or check out these exciting use cases for digital gift cards.

🏡 Using gift card cashback to pay off your mortgage faster

🛍️ Cashing out loyalty points into gift cards

🚀 Turning crypto into gift cards for everyday purchases 

🆘 Using gift cards for efficient aid distribution 

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