Part 5: Catalog Providers Hate Gift Cards because Your Employees Love Them!

In my final look at why employees love gift cards in a reward program, we saw how, with the introduction of gift cards into an old catalog selection – within weeks 90-99% of employees will select the gift cards! That’s exactly why catalog providers hate them, because your employees love them!

Let’s look at one more of the reasons employees play back to us as to why they love gift cards. Employees tell us…

“I love that gift cards are GREEN and SOCIALLY RESPONSIBLE, too.”

Yes, you read that right – employees do play back to us they like that gift cards have an environmental and socially responsible dimension, too. How is that?

Consider this. A merchandise catalog company – Incentive Boulevard, Inc – is based in the heart of the US with another office in the UK. As a rewarded employee in, say, China, I select my reward – let’s say it’s a portable BBQ Grill. What’s the classic journey of that grill?

1. Item Manufactured in China
2. Shipped to the Incentive Boulevard Warehouse in the USA or UK
3. Item Shipped from the USA or UK back to employee in China!

Compare that to gift cards:

1. Item manufactured in China
2. Shipped to local department store close to employee in China. Employee collects locally.

I know there are thousands of permutations of how this could play out, but the basic premise is that a second shipping trip is always required to get the item from Incentive Boulevard warehouses – even sometimes back to the very country where the item was manufactured to begin with. This creates a lot of carbon footprint! Or think of it this way. When the price of oil went through the roof in Summer 2008, the surge in shipping costs was the equivalent of a 9% tariff on trade. If you cut the costs of shipping merchandise around the world, you not only cut your costs, you spend more of your recognition and reward budget where you intended – on your people – and you eliminate the eco-expense as well.

Now let’s consider the social impact too. I am that employee in China – yes by picking an item of merchandise made in China – I support local manufacturers, but I am also supporting employees in Incentive Boulevard warehouse thousands of miles away in the US or UK. What would I prefer? How about spending my reward, yes, on a locally manufactured item, but also purchased from a local merchant, with local employees who understand my specific needs.

Or how about spending my reward at a local spa, or in a local restaurant or cinema chain, or giving my reward to a local charity. All of these are possible when local gift cards are used – I get to enjoy and use my reward while also making an economically progressive decision to support my local economy and the local employees who are my neighbors. Don’t get me wrong – I am 100% for international trade; however, the gift card route allows many thousands of local economies to benefit from your program, not just the one of two where Incentive Boulevard has their warehouse.

More food for thought – do you think your employees care that your reward options are Green and Socially Responsible?

For those just joining the GloboBlog community today, these are the links for the past related posts in this series:

Part 1: Catalog Providers Hate Gift Cards because Your Employees Love Them

Part 2: “I love REAL CHOICE, not pretend choice.”

Part 3: “I love that they are LOCAL to where I live, not one size fits all.”

Part 4: “I love BEST VALUE for my money, not being price cheated.”

Derek Irvine

About Derek Irvine

The VP of Client Strategy and Consulting at Globoforce, Derek Irvine is one of the world’s foremost experts on employee recognition and engagement, helping business leaders set a higher vision and ambition for their organizations. As a renowned speaker and co-author of "The Power of Thanks" and "Winning with a Culture of Recognition," he teaches companies how to use recognition to proactively manage company culture. Derek holds a B.Comm and Masters of Business Studies from the Smurfit Graduate Business School at University College Dublin.

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  1. […] and value? Can a recognition or loyalty catalog merchandiser provide rewards cost effectively?  Can they manage inventory to ensure rewards are delivered quickly – to every corner of the globe? Can they do this everywhere in the world?  If the world’s largest retailers – with legions […]

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