Selling digital gift cards is one of the fastest ways for a brick-and-mortar business to move into the online market and secure immediate cash flow.
Here’s how it works: You create a simple online store and share your URL with customers who want to support you. Customers can then buy and pay for gift cards through your new online store, and then receive them by email.
Meanwhile, you can track and manage all gift cards in Shopify as customers redeem them in the future. As you launch new products that can be purchased online, or make your products available for local delivery or pickup, customers can redeem gift cards at checkout.
Let’s go over how to create gift cards for your business, why you’d want to, and what to do once you’ve launched your gift cards for sale.
Why you should create gift cards for your online business
Gift cards offer a variety of benefits for merchants and customers alike, including:
- Boosted cash flow: You don’t necessarily need any product to generate cash flow when you sell digital gift cards. It can be a way to boost revenue during times of need. Plus, as many as 30% of gift cards go unused.
- New customers: Your existing customers serve as brand ambassadors. You can encourage them to purchase gift cards for their friends and family—a whole new pool of potential customers.
- Promotions and deals: Gift cards are a flexible tool for special sales, campaigns, and other deals you might want to offer. For example, outdoor retailer REI often incentivizes higher cart values with gift-card-with-purchase promotions.
- Easy fulfillment and redemption: Because they’re digital in nature, there are no shipping or warehousing fees, and fulfillment is immediate. This is especially valuable considering more than 20% of cards are purchased the same day they’re given. Plus, customers don’t have to worry about keeping tabs of a physical card.
- Better sales and customer relationships: Loyal customers want gift cards as rewards. As many as 60% of consumers say they prefer digital gift cards to discounts, coupons, bonus “dollars,” or other offers.
💡 Note: Before you set up your store, you'll need a logo for your business and a few photos that represent your brand. If you don’t have any on hand, you can source royalty-free stock photos from Burst.
How to create gift cards
There are two ways to create digital gift cards for your Shopify store:
- Through the Shopify native app
- Through a third-party gift card Shopify app
It’s possible to sell digital gift cards on all Shopify plans. Log in to your admin and navigate to Products > Gift cards > Add gift card product. This will activate gift card features and allow you to create your first gift card in draft mode.
To create and publish a gift card, making it available for purchase, navigate to Gift card products. Click Add a gift card product. You can only add a Gift Card product once.
Next, you’ll need to input the gift card information, including:
- Title: the name for the gift card—for example, “holiday gift card” or “birthday gift card”
- Description: the product description as it will appear on your store
- Media: your gift card product image
- Denominations: use the variants to add or edit denominations
- Search engine listing preview: how your gift card could appear in search engine results
- Sales channels and apps: availability settings and publishing date
- Organization: optional information about the product type and vendor—add it to existing manual collections and add tags
When you’ve inputted all the data, click Save.
To add recipient fields—such as recipient email, recipient name, custom message, and “send on” date—to your gift card product, go to Online Store > Themes. Click Customize next to the theme that you want to customize and find the gift card product to update. In the Product information section, click the Buy buttons block. Select Show recipient information form for gift card products. If this option isn't displayed, then your theme may not support the gift card recipient information form feature.
To make your gift card public and available for sale on one or more sales channels, click View gift card products and select the gift card you want to publish. In the Sales channels section, make the gift card product available to the sales channel(s) of your choice and then click Save. This will enable people to purchase the gift card via the selected channel(s).
To add additional denominations, you can create variants for the gift card. Here, you can update the title, price, and image as needed.
If you want more features and functionality, you can also install a paid third-party app from the Shopify App Store. Some top picks include:
- Gift Cards & Loyalty Program: Create and sell digital and physical gift cards. Additional features include allowing customers to schedule gift card delivery and bulk gift card sales.
- GiftKart: Gift Cards & Rewards: Allows customers to schedule email gift card delivery as well as personalize messages and design. Customers can also add video messages to their gift cards if they want.
- ShopKeeper Gift Cards: This app allows for design customization, personalized messages, and scheduled delivery. However, it doesn’t offer any advanced features.
- Gift Card Factory: Gift Card Factory offers unique features, including balance reminders, the ability to bulk upload gift card data via CSV file, and incentivized purchases with free gift cards.
- Gift Card Pro: Customers can personalize gift cards with handwritten or video messages. They can also schedule delivery via email or SMS text message, as well as customize the gift card design.
- Govalo: Govalo is a fully integrated gift card and store credit platform. Customers can schedule delivery and add messages. You can also promote gift card sales when products go out of stock.
Manage gift card sales on Shopify
Gift cards are sold like a product, but gift card sales are reported differently. You can use the gift card sales report to track your gift card sales. “Gift Card ID” in your reports helps you understand which gift cards were used for an order, by which customer.
Gift card orders will appear under Orders > All Orders. Since your store is set up to capture payments automatically, you don’t need to do anything here when new orders come in.
Your gift card sales report will show you the following information:
- Date the gift card was sold
- Order number
- Customer name
- Gift card value
- Any discounts applied
- Total sales (gift card value minus discounts)
Note: Gift cards you issue for free from the Shopify admin don’t appear in the Gift card sales report.
You can also view your Gift cards outstanding balance report. This shows the daily balance of all gift card transactions, including the following:
- Opening/starting balance at the beginning of the day
- Issued value of gift cards for the day
- Sold value of gift cards for the day
- Disabled value of gift cards for the day
- Redeemed value of gift cards for the day
- Refunded value of payments that were originally paid by gift card and were then refunded for the day (includes amounts from gift card refunds due to failed transactions)
- Adjustment value (Shopify Plus) of manual adjustments made to gift cards for the day
- Closing balance of all issued and sold gift cards at the end of the day
- Net change between the opening balance and the closing balance
To see a full list of your active gift cards, head to Products > Gift cards. Each gift card is tracked here, so you can see the customer’s information, their current balance, and when they purchased it.
These gift cards will be redeemable through your Shopify store at a future date, even as you add new items that are available online or for pickup.
Take selling gift cards further
Now that you know how to create and customize a gift card, here are ways to expand the program.
Create a custom image for your gift cards
A custom gift card image that reflects your brand will look more professional and personal. Even if you’re not a designer, you can quickly create one for free using Canva’s gift certificate maker and replace your gift card image with it on your product page.
Handmade vintage clothing brand Peppy Debs!, for example, opted for a playful cow print, which mirrors the merchant’s funky and creative personality.
You can also keep it simple and simply use your logo and/or a dollar amount to indicate the gift card value. That’s the route OMA Designs took with its digital gift cards.
Discount your gift cards
One way you can reward loyal customers for supporting your brand is by giving them a discount for purchasing a gift card for a larger amount. Not only does this increase the amount of immediate cash flow you can generate per sale, it’s a nice way to say thank you to your customers.
Don’t be afraid to reach out to your most loyal repeat customers. These customers often spend hundreds of dollars with you throughout the year. Incentivize them to support your business now by offering a discount when they purchase a gift card.
You can create one discount to apply across all gift card denominations or discounts that apply to specific denominations or purchasing thresholds. Let’s walk through an example by creating a 15% automatic discount applied across all gift card tiers. Customers will see this discount automatically applied at checkout, but remember to also communicate it upfront on your product page:
- Go to Discounts > Automatic Discounts in Shopify.
- Click Create Discount and choose Automatic Discount so customers can get the discount without entering a code.
- Choose your discount type (Percentage, Fixed amount, Buy X get Y). In this case, I’m going to pick Percentage.
- The Value section will change depending on the discount type you select. Since I chose Percentage, I’m going to set the Value to 15% and have it apply to Specific products, searching for the gift card product I created.
- With the Minimum requirements option, I can set the purchasing threshold for applying a 15%-off discount. In this case, I want it to apply to all my gift card tiers, so I will set it to 1¢.
- Under Active dates I can set a start and end time for this discount. Since I can manually remove it later, I’ll set the start date to today and leave the end date blank and hit Save.
- Now that my discount is active, I need to go back and update my gift card product description to highlight the offer for customers and call out that it will be applied at checkout (e.g., “We want to give you 15% off the purchase amount for a gift card as a show of thanks for lending us your support through these challenging times. The discount will be applied at checkout.”).
- Finally, I’ll want to test my discount to make sure everything works correctly.
Sell your gift card on another site
If you have an existing website your customers are familiar with or you simply want to sell your gift cards on another website, you can do so using Shopify’s Buy Button channel.
You can embed a Buy Button on another website to allow your customers to purchase your products there. Simply install the Buy Button sales channel to create one, customize the color and layout, and then generate an embed code to copy and paste into another website.
Digital gift card FAQ
How can I make my own gift cards for my business?
You can make your own gift cards for your business using Shopify’s native gift card app or a third-party tool from the Shopify App Store, like Govalo or GiftKart.
Do businesses make money on gift cards?
Yes, businesses make money on gift cards. Shoppers may feel inclined to make a purchase they otherwise wouldn’t have made. Many gift card recipients spend more than the allotted amount, increasing profits for businesses.
Do gift cards help small businesses?
Yes, gift cards help small businesses. Gift cards can help small businesses generate cash flow during times of need without having to invest in inventory or fulfillment at the time.
How much does it cost to make gift cards?
It’s free to offer digital gift cards via the Shopify native app.