Gyft, the TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2012 finalist which lets you buy, store and share plastic gift cards on your iPhone, is starting its big holidays push with the introduction of a new feature which will allow users to re-gift their own cards by sending them to others via email, text or Facebook. The addition (“Gyft It”) is one of many forthcoming new features, as the startup prepares for its busiest time of year.
“Ninety percent of the hundred billion dollar gift card market is plastic cards,” explains Gyft co-founder, CJ MacDonald. “Sixty percent of that is in the months of November and December,” he adds. Around 80 percent of consumers will plan or buy a gift card over the new few weeks leading up to the holidays, so this is now Gyft’s best time to capture the interest of consumers. From now through the holidays, the company will be promoting its service on national talkshows and hosting giveways from major retailers in order to capture consumers’ interest. Specifically, from now until Christmas here in the U.S., Gyft will give away $500 per week in various promotions, MacDonald says.
The new gift card re-gifting feature, at launch, will allow the app’s users to give their unused cards to friends and family. It’s a handy last-minute gift option, especially if you’re running low on cash. But the feature will soon be expanded, likely after the holidays, to allow users to swap gift cards from within the app, or even sell the cards for cash.
Gift card swaps and reselling sites have been done before, of course, but generally through online services such as Plastic Jungle, Cardnap, Cardpool, Giftcardrescue, and others. Asked what the advantage Gyft offered over these competitors, MacDonald replied that mobile was a big part of it. “You’ve got your cards on your phone, and it’s really, really easy,” he says. “Timing and convenience is another big thing. There are some secondary gift card swapping and exchanging companies out there, but you need to mail in your plastic cards. I’ve personally done it, and they’ve lost my cards [in the mail],” he adds. “I think there’s some friction in the process of having to mail in your cards.”
Note that swapping and selling aren’t available as of today’s launch, but will roll out shortly, although MacDonald didn’t provide an exact ETA on that.
Gyft, which launched in September this year, reached over $1 million in gift cards stored on its system in just three weeks. The number is now higher, but the company declined to say by how much or how many downloads and active users it has on its platform today. However, MacDonald did tell us that following the iPhone Passbook integration, around one-third of users have pushed at least one card from Gyft to Passbook. Average users currently have around 2.6 cards total in service, but that number should grow to 3.5 or 4 cards after the holidays.
Since its launch, Gyft has grown its from 200 to 300 retailers, with newer notable additions including Nike, Gap, Toys R Us, Sears and Gamestop. Around 200 of those 300 retailers also support deeper integration with their own systems to enable things like checking card balances or the ability to purchase cards, for example. The end goal for the startup is to finally provide those retailer partners with visibility into the unused gift card landscape, and offer them tools to help activate those consumers and bring them into the store. Eventually, that insight and the ability to target those consumers is something Gyft believes its retailer partners will pay for, since they currently have no other means to do this. (And contrary to popular belief, due to a 2010 law which says retailers can book gift cards as sales revenue until they’re redeemed, the merchants actually do care about whether their gift cards are used.)
The updated version of the Gyft application is now available in iTunes here.