GiftRocket Seeks to Take the Pain (and Loss) Out of Gift Cards

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dealing directly with merchants—perhaps by distributing discount offers that would entice gift recipients to upspend. After all, closing a sale puts GiftRocket in possession of the kind of data that’s considered golden in the era of mobile commerce: the startup knows to a high degree of certainty that a specific person with a known e-mail address and a location-aware smartphone will soon be spending a specific amount of money at a particular location. (The only thing it doesn’t know is when.)

“There are many interesting possibilities that we haven’t explored fully yet,” says Kale. “But one thing I would love to emphasize is that we already make it possible for merchants who don’t have a gift card program, like small restaurants or bars, to get a card at their business.” In just a few minutes, Kale explains, business owners can grab some code that puts a GiftRocket badge on their website, allowing customers to jump straight to a GiftRocket form prepopulated with the business’s name. (You can check out an example of such a badge at the website for Brennan’s, a famous Houston, TX, eatery.) “This solution gets them 80 percent of the way” to having a gift-card program, says Kale. “It works for anyone who has a smartphone, and it costs nothing.”

Of course, gift cards from large retail chains still have one advantage over GiftRocket’s system: you can use them at any store in the chain, whereas a GiftRocket gift, by definition, can only be redeemed at one specific place. But Kale says “keep your eyes peeled for new feature releases” that address that gap. “Right now a GiftRocket gift for the Gap works for only one location, but it’s not a structural problem to make it work at any Gap in the country.”

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Wade Roush is a contributing editor at Xconomy. Follow @wroush

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