Buyer’s guide to electronic vouchers

Key facts

What are electronic voucher cards?
These can be offered to employees as part of an incentive scheme or through salary deduction. The cards can be programmed for use at a specific retailer, multiple retailers, or at a selected group of retailers.

Where can employers get more information?
The UK Gift Card and Voucher Association has more information on its website. Read more articles on motivation schemes.

Who are the main providers?
Electronic voucher cards for use at single retailers are provided by: Arcadia, Asda, Boots, B&Q, Comet, Debenhams, Fresh Travel, HMV, House of Fraser, John Lewis, Marks and Spencer, New Look, Matalan, River Island, Sainsbury’s, Thomas Cook and Toys R Us.

Cards for use at multiple retailers are provided by: Edenred (Incentives and Motivation), Grass Roots, Logbuy, Love2reward, Michael C Fina, One4All, P&MM, PrePay Solutions, Projectlink Motivation and SVM Cards.

Electronic vouchers offer a secure, convenient and environmentally friendly way to reward
and motivate employees with savings on goods and services, says Georgina Fuller

Since Boots launched its Advantage points card in 1997, many major retailers have followed suit and forward-thinking employers are now providing electronic voucher cards as part of a motivation or incentive scheme. The chance to save a few pounds and get the best deals has become increasingly attractive in challenging economic times.

There are three categories of electronic voucher card: closed loop, open loop and restricted loop. Closed-loop cards are redeemable at one specific retailer, for example Debenhams or Asda. Open-loop cards use either the Mastercard or Visa payment networks, and are accepted at multiple retailers, whereas restricted-use cards can be used at a selected group of retailers.

One of the main advantages to employers is less administration. The distribution process can be managed online with one card for each employee, as opposed to thousands of paper vouchers. Alex Speed, head of corporate sales at Love2reward, says the security and environmental aspects are also appealing. “Cards are more secure and can be cancelled if lost or stolen,” he says. “They are also seen as more environmentally friendly, because cards can be topped up repeatedly, reducing administration, paper and postage costs.”

Joanne Taylor, corporate sales manager at Asda Business Rewards, says the flexibility of electronic cards makes them an appealing choice. “Employers have recognised rewards need to work harder for them and make their employees’ money go that bit further. Recipients can choose exactly what they want for themselves, which is how a motivational programme really should work.”

Many organisations are now also using electronic cards to promote their employer brand. Speed says: “Some employers take the opportunity to brand the cards with their corporate logo, reminding the employee who the reward was received from. In these circumstances, every employee receives a card at launch, giving them information on how they can receive a reward.”

When it comes to selecting which card to offer to staff, it is essential to find the right partner to work with and choose a recognised brand, says Rob Froome, head of business solutions at high-street retailer New Look.

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“The reward must appeal and deliver a tangible treat to the recipient,” he explains. “In giving a gift card, it is vital that the recipient is able to spend without needing to add their own cash. This brings us to the importance of partnering with a value brand. Partner with a retail brand that will engage and inspire participants.”

Read more buyer’s guides