How do Shopify gift cards work and how to use them - A guide

Gift card, shopify bag and cogs illustration

Gift cards are an excellent way to give your loyal customers a little something to show appreciation.

They can even be bought as presents, and the person who got the gift card will then use them in your store. This way, you’ll get a sale and two happy customers instead of one, doubling your chances of a review and boosting your store’s reputation simultaneously.

Now that you know why Shopify Gift cards are the next step for your e-commerce business, let’s look at how they work and how you can start creating them.

How does a Shopify gift card work

You can think of these gift cards as you would for other products. Your customers can purchase them and then give them away to their friends.

When someone adds a product to their cart and starts the checkout process, they will be able to use the gift card to pay for that specific product.

How to create a Shopify gift card

There are two ways you can create gift cards: using Shopify’s built-in functionality or an app.

Let’s start with the built-in functionality and then move to some of the best apps.

Step 1. Log into your Shopify store and go to Products -> Gift cards. Here you’ll see two options; for now, simply click on the “Add gift card product.”

Shopify Gift Cards Dashboard Screen
Shopify Gift Cards Dashboard Screen

Step 2. Complete the necessary product information. Chances are you have already added some products to your store, so this process should be pretty straightforward.

Make sure to give your product a descriptive name and description. An image would also work wonders.

Creating a gift card in shopify screen
Creating a gift card in Shopify screen

Step 3. Choose your denominations. Shopify creates four denominations by default ($10, $25, $50, and $100), but you can always add extra or remove some of them if you feel like it.

As a best practice, you should match your gift card denominations with the average price of your products. For example, say your products cost around $30 each. In that case, you might want to add a $60 denomination so people can gift two products simultaneously.

Adding gift card value in shopify
Adding gift card value in Shopify

Step 4. Change the product status to “Active” and choose a collection. Once satisfied with the product details, it’s time to push it live.

Assigning a gift card to a collection in shopify

Step 5. Save your changes. Once you save your changes, you will be taken to your products page. If you want to create a new gift card or edit the one you just created, simply click on Gift cards (as you did in Step 1) and select “View gift card products.”

This will automatically filter your products, so you will only be able to see your Gift cards.

Gift card view screen page
Gift card view screen page

You can open the gift card editor by clicking on the corresponding gift card.

Shopify Products Dashboard
Shopify Products Dashboard

That’s it. Now customers can purchase gift cards from your store.

How to issue single-use Shopify gift cards

This type of gift card is great if you want to thank loyal customers for purchasing from you multiple times. Your customers will appreciate a gift card more than a discount code.

Step 1. Navigate to the gift cards page.

Navigating to gift card page

Step 2. Click on the “Issue gift card” button. This will open up a page that will allow you to configure the gift card.

Issuing Gift Card Shopify Page
Issuing Gift Card Shopify Page

Step 3. Configure the gift card. Now you can edit the Initial amount of the gift card, select which customer it applies to, set an expiration date, and even add a note so you remember why you created it.

Important note: Make sure you copy this code right now, as you will not be able to see it again after you create the gift card.

Step 4. Select or create a customer and click “Activate.” Once satisfied with your gift card options, you just need to select the customer you want to send it to and click on the “Activate” button.

Right after that, you will see this page featuring all relevant information regarding your newly issued gift card.

This is the last time you can copy that code, so make sure you do so in case you skipped it earlier.

Gift Card Issuance Success Message
Gift Card Issuance Success Message

That’s it. Your customer will instantly get an email letting them know they have a gift card they can use in your store.

Single Gift Card email
Single Gift Card email

Depending on your store’s theme, your customer will see something like this when they click on the “View gift card” button inside the email.

Gift Card Page with QR Code
Gift Card Page with QR Code

Another essential thing to mention is that you do not need to add a customer when issuing a gift card. If you want to share the code via WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger, you can simply create the gift card, copy it, and share it. That simple.

Notice the QR code beneath the gift card code? You can create a QR code for your gift cards to easily share with your loyal customers when they make a return purchase or want to gift their friends.

Here’s how.

How to Create QR codes for Shopify gift cards

The easiest way to create a gift card on Shopify is through the Shopcode App. And that’s our first order of business.

Step 1. Install the Shopcode app

  • Head to the Shopcode app page in the Shopify app store
  • Select Add App. Note that you’ll have to log in to your Shopify account before you can do this. If you’re not already logged in, Shopify will prompt you to do so.
Shopcodes in Shopify app store
Shopcodes in Shopify app store
  • Click on Install to complete the process

Once you complete the installation, you should be redirected to this page:

create shopcode scren
create shopcode scren

Now, you can begin creating your QR codes.

Step 2. Find the Apps column on the left-hand side of your Shopify window and select Shopcodes. You should be there already if you just installed the Shopcode app.

Shopcodes in app column
Shopcodes in app column

Step 3. Click on Create Shopcode.

Create Shopcode screen
Create Shopcode screen

You’ll then be prompted to select the product you want to create the QR code for.

Step 4. Select the gift card in the list of products and click Add.

Add product modal
Add product modal

On the next page, you can work out the remaining kinks for your QR code.

Step 5. Enter the title of the QR code. The default name is usually the name of the product you choose, but if you want, you can change the name.

New Shopcode name
New Shopcode name

Step 6. Choose the QR code scan destination. Where do you want to direct users when they scan your gift card QR code? You can direct them to the gift card product page or to your checkout page with the gift card in the cart.

QR code destination
QR code destination

Step 7. Click on Create Shopcode to activate your QR code.

Activate QR code
Activate QR code

Step 8. Download the Shopcode in the format you want: PNG or SVG. We recommend the PNG format if you’ll be sharing the QR code online, but if you’ll be printing these codes, your best option is SVG.

Shopify QR code in PNG or SVG
Shopify QR code in PNG or SVG

Pro tip: If you want to add any explanatory notes to your gift card QR code, check the Help Text box under the scan destination. Also, test out your QR code before issuing them out to customers. Your goal is to get repeat customers and more prospects, not to push away customers with bad-functioning QR codes.

QR Code help text
QR Code help text

Now, that you have your QR codes out there, you’ll want to know how many people are scanning them and how many of those scanners you’re converting. Thankfully, you can do that right from the Shopcode app.

How to track QR code activity

Step 1. Go to the Shopcode app as we saw above.

Step 2. Choose the code you want to track from your list of Shopcodes.

Choose the Shopify code screen
Choose the Shopify code screen

Step 3. Scroll to the Report section at the bottom of the page.

Shopify QR code reports

From here, you’ll need to choose what exactly you’re looking to track: tra ffic or conversion. You can then make informed decisions from there.

Best Shopify gift card apps

Now that you know how to use the built-in Shopify functionality to create and issue gift cards, it's time to look at some apps.

Sure, Shopify has a robust set of tools for online selling, but apps do a better job with specific functionalities, like upsells, cross-sells, and gift cards.

How to check Shopify gift card balance

As of today, Shopify gift card recipients can’t check the balance of gift cards on their own. All they can do is ask you, the vendor, for that information. Here’s how to find Shopify gift card balance for your customers:

Step 1. Enter the Products section in your admin panel and select Gift cards.

Shopify product section with Gift Cards
Shopify product section with Gift Cards

Step 2. Select the gift card code from the list of gift cards (the customer should have this code).

Shopify gift card in list
Shopify gift card in list

Step 3. Once you find the gift card, click on the name. You can then find the gift card balance and other information, like the expiration date, in the next window.

Shopify gift card balance
Shopify gift card balance

Send this info back to your customer, and you’re good to go.

Alternatively, you can issue an updated gift card to the customer, especially if they’ve lost the gift card information they have. To do this, select the gift card code in the gift card list and click Resend gift card.

The customer would receive the gift card with updated information if they had partially used it.

Best Shopify gift card apps

Now that you know how to use the built-in Shopify functionality to create and issue gift cards, it's time to look at some apps.

Sure, Shopify has a robust set of tools for online selling, but apps do a better job with specific functionalities, like upsells, cross-sells, and gift cards.

Govalo | Gift Cards - Best Gift card app to delight your customers

Govalo Gift Cards in Shopify's app store
Govalo Gift Cards in Shopify's app store

Govalo takes the basic Shopify gift card functionality to the next level by allowing you to schedule gift card delivery and giving you more customization options for both your gift cards and redemption page.

One of the best functionalities this app has to offer is the “Out of stock” option. This means that when a product runs out of stock, customers will be prompted to purchase a gift card instead, virtually helping you sell even when you are low on inventory.

Govalo comes with a seven-day free trial. Their cheapest plan (Essential) starts at $19/month + 2.9% total gift card value and gives you access to all the features I  described above.

Suppose you want to take your gift card experience even further. In that case, you can pick the Premium plan ($79/month + 2.25% total gift card value), which lets you personalize the buying experience, customize the redemption page and even integrate it with Klaviyo.

Their highest plan (Enterprise) works best for large stores, with a base cost of $399/month + 1.5% total gift card value. If you opt for this plan, you’ll get VIP treatment and an annual billing option.

Govalo has a 4.7 stars rating from 17 store owners.

Digital Gift Cards | Giftkart - Best Gift card app for personalized video messages

Digital Gift Cards by Giftkart in Shopify's app store
Digital Gift Cards by Giftkart in Shopify's app store

What makes Giftkart stand out from the crowd is that customers can record a video to go along with the Gift card. This level of personalization is excellent as the final recipient will have a pleasant surprise when they open their email.

This app is free to install, although they charge 2.7% of the total gift card value sold. With this plan, you get access to the following functionalities:

  • Personalized Gift Cards
  • Issue Store Credit
  • Balance Check
  • Scheduled Delivery of Gift Cards
  • Gift Card Referrals
  • Gift Card Cart Offers

If you want to allow your customers to record video messages, you will need the “Plus” plan that starts at $19.99/month + 2.25% of the total gift card value sold. This plan also lets you personalize the emails sent out and customize greeting cards.

Their most expensive plan is $49.99/month but comes with a 0% usage fee. For this amount, you get everything the app offers, plus 1-on-1 onboarding and the ability to run custom gift card campaigns.

Giftkart has a rating of 4.9 stars from 47 merchants.

Why are Shopify Gift cards a great addition to your store

Remember the last time you had to buy a gift for a friend and had no idea what they’d like? Well, chances are you decided to buy a gift card.

There are many other people exactly like you. In fact, in the US alone, the gift card market is projected to reach $238.97 billion.

Moreover, 48.5% of the leading online retailers currently accept gift cards. If major players in the e-commerce industries have adopted gift cards, then it’s probably time you do the same.

Bottom line, gift cards are a great way to boost sales and also reward loyal customers, so make sure you implement them asap to see your sales increase.

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