A guide to introducing Gift Vouchers

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Gift Vouchers offer a win-win-win situation. Your customer gets a convenient gift-giving solution. The recipient gets a nice surprise. As the seller, you get the added bonus of cash in the till upfront.

When it comes to essentially creating your own currency, though, there are a few important details to address. As we’ll see, some of these issues stray into areas of accountancy and the law, so if you’re in any doubt about the legal and financial details around Gift Vouchers, we’d certainly recommend seeking advice from a professional.

Last things first

It pays to think backwards when it comes to introducing Gift Vouchers. Ironically, aftercare needs to be one of the first things you consider.

Start out by trying to list every likely eventuality that could occur when customers buy and redeem your Gift Vouchers.

  • How do you provide change if the voucher holder’s purchase is less than the value of the voucher?
  • What happens if a recipient brings back a faulty item, purchased with a voucher, and demands a refund in cash? 
  • What happens if a recipient presents you with a ten year old voucher?
  • What would happen if you ceased trading?

You can avoid confusion and acrimony by considering these eventualities ahead of time and formulating a lawful and reasonable policy which you can set out in your terms and conditions.

How to write terms and conditions?

Composing terms and conditions requires some water-tight language. Unless you have legal training though, it’s best not to attempt to write these in amateur “legalese”. Instead, try to convey your meaning as plainly and unambiguously as possible. 

If you’re concerned about leaving loopholes, you might want to seek professional legal advice or consult your company legal secretary if you have one. Sufficed to say, as you come to write your Ts&Cs, you’ll want to consider who, where and when.

Who

By selling a voucher, you enter into a contract with the voucher purchaser, not the final recipient. If the voucher recipient has any dispute regarding the terms of the voucher, their first recourse is to the purchaser. In real life, of course, that’s an awkward situation that should be avoided at all costs, unless you want your brand to leave a sour taste.

Make reasonably lenient policies that allow plenty of leeway for the recipient to redeem their gift. After all, you’ve already received the funds. Any contingencies you do need to introduce should be stated clearly on the voucher to leave the recipient in no doubt about their rights.

Where

While you’ll want to print your Ts&Cs on the vouchers themselves, but you’ll also need to create some signage to display them by the till. Posters and Strut Cards are both great ways to make this information known at the counter.

This is an important step as you’re only able to enforce terms and conditions that have been made known to the voucher purchaser before, or at the time of, purchase. Buyers need to know what they’re signing up for before they buy, so the Ts&Cs printed on the voucher itself will serve as a reminder to the purchaser, and as a guide to recipients.

When

Do you want your vouchers to have an expiration date? It’s perfectly legal in the UK to build an end date into your voucher offer, as long as that information is available to the purchaser at or before the time of purchase.

a good retail experience at he counter

Staying within the law is one thing, but preserving your public image and the good will of your customers is another. Creating a situation where someone’s gift becomes worthless on an arbitrary date is not going to win any friends. Consider open-ended vouchers, or long expiry dates. You should also be ready to grant exemptions or extensions to recipients who didn’t make it on time. These measures will help to avoid confrontations and poor online reviews.

Unfamiliar territory

If you trade in overseas territories, remember that what’s true in the UK is not necessarily true elsewhere. In UK law, the consumer’s Statutory Rights override any policy that a retailer may put in place. In other territories, other sets of regulations apply.

For example, changes in Irish law in 2019 mean that Gift Vouchers should feature no expiry date, or remain valid for at least five years. Traders in Ireland are further banned from insisting that shoppers spend the voucher within in one transaction. They’re also obliged to give change if the balance is greater than €1.

Over the counter

Before launch, you’ll want to iron out how you deal with Gift Vouchers in terms of your accounting. 

For example, when a cashier takes payment via Gift Voucher, they will need to know how to process that payment. You might need to configure your till or EPOS (electronic point of sale) system to incorporate both Gift Voucher sales and redemptions.

You might need to configure your till or EPOS (electronic point of sale) system

It’s also worth considering how the cashier invalidates the voucher when it goes into the till. The voucher will have to be spoiled so that it can’t be reused. However. it needs to be intact enough to be accounted for when you cash up. Try keeping a permanent marker by the till to scribble through used vouchers before they go into the drawer.

Accounting for your vouchers

Another issue you may wish to discuss with your accountant is when and how you report voucher sales. After all, there will be two transactions involved:

  • Firstly, the voucher sale, when revenue is credited, but stock is not depleted.
  • Secondly, the voucher redemption, when stock is depleted, but no revenue is credited.

Then there’s the issue of VAT. You’ll want to avoid double counting and to make sure that you pay VAT within the correct period. If you use an accounting software package, your provider may be able to provide support here. Failing that, it’s always worth seeking the advice of an accountant.

Designing for brand, uniqueness and security

Your Gift Voucher should reflect your brand and clearly indicate that they can be spent with you and you alone. For that reason, logo and voucher value will most likely take centre stage, with Ts&Cs occupying the small print.

For reasons of security, you’ll probably want your Gift Voucher design to feature additional detail so that they’re unique and hard to copy. To achieve this, most retailers decide on a distinctive design with a degree of complexity that’s difficult to replicate.

An eye for detail

A brilliant way to create an exclusive design that also reflects a sense of value is to produce Foil Gift Vouchers. The metallic print in a range of great colours including silver and gold works well as text, picking out the monetary value of the voucher. You may wish to use a different colour for each price point you offer.

Spot UV Gift Voucher printing also elevates your design while making it tough for fraudsters to recreate. This precisely applied high-gloss varnish picks out text or design elements in great detail, adding shine and refinement to your Gift Voucher.

For environmentally conscious brands, the Solopress Green range also features Eco-Friendly Gift Vouchers that are both recycled and carbon-offset.

Whichever type you choose, Gift Voucher printing is a great option for brands that want to make themselves more accessible to the gift-giving market.