Bristol online gift card company throws cashflow lifeline to crisis-hit small firms

April 17, 2020

Bristol-based gift card business Gift Up! is providing a lifeline to thousands of firms that have been forced to stop trading due to coronavirus-linked lockdowns around the world.

The online platform is offering its innovative service free of charge to enable companies to continue to bring in revenue amid the pandemic. 

The concept allows businesses to create virtual gift cards for their products to be sold via any company website in any native currency. It is fully automated and operates across the globe.

With revenue streams for many business owners drying up due to cancellations and closures, the Gift Up! model provides an alternative method of generating income.

When a gift card is bought via Gift Up!, merchants are credited with the money immediately rather than having to wait until the product or service is redeemed by the recipient, providing a much-needed boost to their cashflow.

The initiative comes amid a boom in gift card sales over recent weeks as consumers look to take advantage of deals and offers to be redeemed once closures are lifted.

While Gift Up!, which is based at UWE’s Future Space hub, usually takes a cut of each gift card sold, founders Lee Tracey and Alex Allen are offering up to $5,000 in gift card revenue free of any fees to any business in any country, as a goodwill gesture during this period of global pandemic.

The software-building duo, who started the company in 2017 and now handle gift card sales for more than 15,000 customers internationally, have partnered with online event and payment platforms Eventbrite and Stripe and count among their clients the likes of brewer and bar firm BrewDog and hotel group Nordic Choice as well as thousands of smaller local-based businesses all over the world.

The average Gift Up! business customer generates $10,000 revenue annually, with its largest client reaping in $1m a year through its sales of online gift cards.

Gift Up! co-founder Lee Tracey, pictured, said: “We’ve found ourselves in a unique position amid the Covid-19 crisis to make a huge difference to the lives of business owners across the world through our platform. 

“For the first time in our lifetime, we’ve crafted some software that can genuinely play a part in affecting the success or failure of companies that have nowhere else to turn right now, and that’s an amazing thing to be able to do.

“Gift Up! is perfect for any kind of business, from manicures to massages; jukebox tokens to ten-pin bowling; overnight stays to open-air gigs, we’ve seen it all.

“We’ve had customers getting in touch to say that Gift Up! is literally going to save their business.”

Business owner and Gift Up! customer Victoria Armstrong set up her massage company Bristol Massage Therapy in 2011 but has felt the financial hit of the coronavirus since closing completely in compliance with social distancing regulations.

“It’s a crazy time for service-led businesses, having to shut up shop and essentially cutting off our income entirely as we physically cannot continue in the circumstances,” she said.

“Gift Up! has provided a safety net for us in enabling our customers to purchase massages to be redeemed in the future – as a gift for somebody else or banking it for themselves once this is all over.

“We have loyal customers who want to support us through this time and I’ve been able to provide them with a simple way to do that through Gift Up!”

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