City Beach overhauls gift card program

citybeacchFor fashion retailer City Beach the NSW Government’s decision to mandate three-year expiry periods on gift cards sold in the state wasn’t a shock.

The business was already moving to change its gift card offer to provide customers with more flexibility and convenience.

“Our reaction was that it echoed sentiment we had already been voicing internally for six months,” chief operating officer Anita Dorwald told Inside Retail.

City Beach will this week remove expiry dates completely on gift cards sold around the country from 31 March, the date that the NSW Governments new gift card regulations come into effect.

It is also lifting expiry dates on all cards sold from 1 April 2017 to ensure that customers who have bought gift cards in the last twelve months don’t miss out.

While a host of other retailers like Woolworths and JB Hi-Fi have also responded to the NSW Government’s legislation by removing expiry dates on their cards, some have criticised the new law for being onerous on traders.

The Australian Retailers Association had complained that retailers would find accounting for contingent liabilities associated with outstanding gift cards with longer expiry dates difficult, but Dorwald says it shouldn’t be a problem for City Beach.

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“Traditionally gift card programs were a little more conservative, the technologies were not fluid enough hot facilitate any dynamic management of liabilities and that’s always been a bit of a constraint,” she said.

“We’ve been on the journey of transitioning through gift card providers and changing our back-end technology because it’s always been our desire to have no expiry dates.”

The NSW Government believes the gift card change could deliver as much as $60 million back to consumers in the state, although that figure will undoubtedly be higher because a series of retailers have removed expiry dates completely and have taken the program nationwide.

City Beach has used the opportunity to overhaul its gift card program and will change-out all old gift cards customers have from 31 March.

A re-design has also been implemented, which Dorwald says is a natural development for a fast fashion retailer looking to remain relevant

“This opportunity to do a complete overhaul rather than a gradual change out gave us an opportunity to make a really strong statement,” she said.

“Every retailer will have their own program and their own structures around the value of it in their business.

“Our choice was largely because three years in a teenage life can be a lifetime in itself.

“It was somewhat arbitrary, and we thought that rather than complying with a new regulation we could offer customers a never-ending expiry,” Dorwald continued.

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