Driving Your Gift Card Strategy Through Robotic Automation

SoftBank Robotics US
4 min readNov 2, 2017


The 2017 holiday shopping season is right around the corner and retailers across the globe are gearing up for what they hope will be a strong fourth quarter. With the enormous amount of pressure the holiday season puts on retailers, every brick and mortar store should be looking for a way to get ahead of the curve; selling more and selling earlier. One of the easiest ways to get a head start is through gift card sales.

Gift Cards Benefit Stores and Consumers

Almost half of all consumers state a preference for gift cards, making them a tried and true method for driving in-store revenue. Almost two-thirds of gift card holders spend an extra 38% over the card’s value when shopping with one.

Gift cards also present several added advantages to a retailer’s operating expenses. For example, staggering 15%, or 90 billion dollars of products were returned during the 2015 holiday shopping season. Because a gift card recipient can buy his or her own gift, in-store return rates are often lower, presenting significant cost savings both for customer service time and returned-item discounts.

However, gift cards are still promoted almost as an afterthought. Most retailers limit themselves to marketing their gift cards in three different ways:

1. Tucked away in a corner link of their website or other digital media;

2. Left sitting in a static display stand near a checkout counter; or,

3. As the last thing a store associate says to a customer when ringing them up: “Would you like to add a gift card to your purchase?”

With the enormous benefit, both to revenue and operating efficiency, gift cards are a critical component of a physical store’s success and deserve to be a part of any retailers’ holiday sales strategy.

Selling Gift Cards Strategically with Pepper

Enter Pepper, SoftBank Robotics’ friendly, helpful, gift-card-selling machine. Leveraging humanoid robotics as the centerpiece of a gift card sales strategy makes sense in a plethora of ways.

Pepper is easy to deploy and requires minimal space in a store. Pepper stands about four feet tall and 18-inches wide, meaning retailers don’t need big displays to create attention-grabbing promotions. It’s designed to be stationed in high-traffic areas, with its form factor combined with its advanced, human-like movement creating an eye-catching, curiosity-inspiring attraction that can increase foot traffic for a store by as much as 70%.

The web-based content management system allows users to configure a tailored campaign in just a few minutes, enabling marketers and store operators to leverage the advanced emotional recognition capabilities and human-like movement of the robot to create a unique, captivating, and conversational user-experience for each customer.

Each Pepper campaign has four stages. First, Pepper performs a variety of entertainment routines, like dancing or waving to potential customers, to attract new potential customers to her.

Next, Pepper engages them with a variety fun, customizable questions and conversations, delivering both an on-brand experience in addition to ear-to-ear smiles.

Once a potential customer is engaged, Pepper presents them with a compelling call-to-action. In this case, Pepper can educate customers about the benefits of gift cards — a convenient gift that requires no wrapping, one that you know the receiver will love because s/he can use it on whatever they desire. Pepper can then close the deal by capturing each person’s contact information and work with a retailer’s customer relationship management system to deliver every individual a tailored offer via email or text that drives the purchase of a gift card.

Finally, Pepper ensures a potential customer leaves feeling appreciated and adored by ending the interaction with a game, dance, or heartfelt thank you.

The Bottom Line

Gift card purchases will have a major impact on both top and bottom line revenue this holiday shopping season, and will drive revenue acquisition in-store and digitally. As more and more shoppers are reluctant to shop during peak holiday shopping days, gift cards present a significant opportunity for physical stores to capture revenue earlier in the quarter as consumers are looking to gain a head start and avoid the last-minute rush. Capitalizing now allow retailers to start the holiday shopping season with the positive sales momentum needed to close the final months of 2017 out with success.

Leveraging Pepper in high traffic locations in store is an efficient, effective way to drive gift card sales this holiday season and can give retailers a unique advantage over their competition by delivering a memorable, educational, on-brand experience for customers without the significant investment in human capital required to execute a gift card strategy manually.

Early execution of an automated, low-maintenance gift card strategy is a great way for retailers to achieve their holiday revenue goals and save on operating costs, all while making a minimal upfront investment.

Click here to learn more about Pepper.



SoftBank Robotics US

The official Medium of SoftBank Robotics, US. Elevating Humanity Through Robotics. www.softbankrobotics.com/us/