Why you should keep track of gift certificates
If you're a small business and you're giving / selling gift certificates (also called gift vouchers) to your customers, chances are you don't have an integrated gift card solution which can be quite costly.
Hence, if you offer gift vouchers to your customers, you need a way to keep track of them, mainly for fraud and accounting considerations. Let's see why this is necessary:
- you must prevent customers from fraud by reprinting a gift voucher, hence making your business lose money.
- if you allow customers to redeem a partial amount of the certificate value, you need to know which amount is still available to redeem.
- You also need to find out which certificates have been redeemed, if you want to evaluate the performance of your certificate program.
- you may also be interested in getting more fine-grained knowledge about the gift voucher: when it was sold, which promotion it was part of, etc …
Keeping track of gift certificates using a manual code
In this tracking system, you need every certificate to have a unique, random certificate number. Indeed, to be able to identify a certificate, its serial number needs to be unique. A random number is also important in that it disallows people from reprinting a certificate and using a text formatting program, to change its serial number to make it look like a valid new one. Actually, in order to lessen the possibility of people guessing a valid code, you can also incorporate letters and other special characters in the serial number.
How to generate gift certificate codes
You can either use a random code generator software or generate the codes yourself. In any case, make sure you hold a registry of current certificates in use. You can use Microsoft Excel or any spreadsheet program to keep such a list. You need to make sure that customers cannot see such a list, as you don't want to them to know valid certificate numbers. In this file, you may want to specify certificate serial number, issuing date, certificate value, redeemed amount, and any other information you find valuable to track, such as what promotion the certificate is part of, whether it was sold or given to the customer, etc …
An easier option: generating bar codes for gift vouchers
If you want an easier and more automated way of keeping track of gift vouchers, you could print a bar code on every gift voucher so that it integrates nicely with your Point-Of-Sale software. Contact your point of sale software vendor to see if they can provide such integration.