New Report Assesses Gift Card Programs of Top US Merchants Revealing Improvement Across Omnicommerce Channels


Research shows industry trends, best practices and provides a benchmark for US gift card programs

PLEASANTON, Calif. – September 1, 2022 - A new report commissioned by Blackhawk Network, a leader in global branded payments and conducted by leading research firm NAPCO Research offers an assessment of the gift card programs of over 100 top US merchants. The study, in its fifth consecutive year, identifies emerging industry trends, areas of opportunity and offers actionable best practices for merchants looking to optimize their omnicommerce gift card and payment programs. While most brands showed significant improvement overall for programs across web and mobile, the report found that scores for some in-store experiences have started to lag. Grocers and home improvement retailers were among the most improved while casual restaurant and health and beauty brands had the most opportunity for program improvements.

“Gift cards have long represented a significant revenue opportunity for merchants, and with the US gift card market expected to reach nearly $190 billion this year, all signs are pointing to continued, sustainable growth,” said Jay Jaffin, chief marketing officer, Blackhawk Network. “With encouraging improvements in web and mobile experiences, we’re seeing that the investments retailers have made in recent years to optimize their programs are paying off. However, the research also revealed that there is still a lot of opportunity for improvement in each channel. The good news is that there are actionable steps merchants can take that will continue to help elevate their programs.”

In assessing the complete gift card experience from discovery to fulfillment, merchants were scored and given points in terms of how they promote the omnichannel sale of gift cards to consumers and B2B buyers in-store, online and via mobile. The cross-channel assessment evaluated over 100 leading merchants across more than 150 unique criteria and offers a comprehensive view into the progress and areas for growth in consumer gift card purchase and recipient experiences.

Some of the key gift card program trends from the evaluation include:

• Of the retailers evaluated, 69% improved their overall omnicommerce scores year-over-year with the home improvement and grocery verticals seeing the most overall improvement.

• Retailers’ mobile apps represents a significant area of opportunity for improvement. Year-over-year scores did improve in the channel, however, the overall average score of 42% shows there is still a lot of work to be done - particularly as shoppers that download a retailer’s app tend to be their most valuable customers.

• The largest improvements have been made in web and mobile experiences with overall gains of 11% and 10%, respectively, across the 100 retailers evaluated.

• As retailers invest more resources and focus on digital, in-store programs showed the slowest rate of improvement.

For the first time, the 2022 assessment also included a special analysis of 25 small and midsize businesses’ (SMBs) gift card programs. In the limited digital assessment of SMBs that had online gift card programs, SMBs had significantly lower scores than all the other retailers evaluated. One of the main factors that led to the lower scores was a lack of corporate/B2B programs. Just 6% of the evaluated SMBs had a program compared to 49% for larger retailers.

The full NAPCO report provides merchant scores and rankings in addition to data and insights to help merchants assess the strengths and opportunities for their own gift card programs and prioritize areas for investment.

In addition to the US evaluation, the NAPCO Research team assessed merchants in the UK and Australia. Trends and insights from all three countries can be found in the 2022 Multinational Merchant Gift Card Omnicommerce Evaluation.

About Blackhawk Network

Blackhawk Network delivers payment solutions through the prepaid products, technologies and network that connect brands and people. We collaborate with our partners to innovate, translating market trends in branded payments to increase reach, loyalty and revenue. We reliably execute security-minded solutions worldwide. Join us as we shape the future of global branded payments. Learn more at blackhawknetwork.com.

About NAPCO Research

NAPCO Media is the parent company of Total Retail, a digital retail publication, as well as 15 other brands. Total Retail publishes daily content and holds webinars and industry events for its 70K+ audience of retailers.

Led by a former Forrester Research analyst, NAPCO Research partners with retail clients on their custom research and thought leadership needs.