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Free Gift Cards on Facebook — Support Small Businesses Initiative

25 min listen

Note: The “Free Gift Cards on Facebook” program ends as of Nov 30th, 2020. You will still be able to set up a digital gift card in your Ecwid store.

The Ecwid E-commerce Show hosts Jesse and Richie talk with Erik Suhonen, VP of Operations & Product Partnerships at Ecwid. They discuss how Ecwid and Facebook have partnered together for Facebook’s “Support Local” initiative.

Small business success has always been Ecwid’s North star. Together with our partner Facebook, we are giving you the tools to sell gift cards and make them more visible to your local community.

Set up a digital gift card in your Ecwid store and it’ll appear to people in your area on Facebook’s News Feed for free. When a customer clicks on the gift card on Facebook, they’ll be able to purchase it immediately in your store.

The program is valid for merchants from the US, the UK, Ireland, Australia, Italy, Germany, France, and Spain. The gift cards feature is free for all Ecwid merchants as a part of the response to the pandemic.

How to Promote a Gift Card on Facebook

Please, follow our detailed instructions in the Help Center.

How to Get More Eyes on Your Gift Cards

  1. Publish a post on Facebook and Instagram and tell people that they can purchase gift cards from you. Use hashtags like #supportsmallbusiness
  2. Copy a link to your gift card in the Ecwid Control panel (Catalog → Gift Cards) and promote it in your email newsletter, personal social media profiles, to partner websites, local Facebook groups and media.

Show Notes

  • Funding announcement
  • Ecwid and Facebook are working together on the Support Small Businesses Initiative
  • Free traffic from Facebook
  • Top of the Newsfeed placement
  • Purchase gift cards from local businesses
  • Gift cards are now available for free in your Ecwid store
  • A few clicks to set up and get free traffic from Facebook


Jesse: What’s going on, Richie? How are you?

Richard: I’m doing great, Jess, I see you’re rocking your second quarantine beard.

Jesse: This is the second one. Yeah. We’re on, what, probably two months of this business. So still in my same spare bedroom here, still surviving. But hey, life is good, healthy. We do what we can here right now like everybody else listening.

Richard: So that’s what entrepreneurs do, right? We encounter problems, and we solve them.

Jesse: Absolutely. We’ve done a couple of podcasts now about what Ecwid has been doing for COVID-19. So we won’t go through all of those different things. But, please go check out the website. You’ll see the little slider at the top to check out specific things. We’re going to go into a little more specifics about a new feature that’s out there. So some people have already seen this email on this, but I think it’s can be pretty exciting for people, particularly local businesses that are listening and that have a local presence. This is going to be an awesome, awesome thing, and it’s going to be very easy to do, too. So kind of the trifecta. It’s not a trifecta. It’s only two. But it’s going to be easy. It’s going to be awesome for you. Richie, for people to watch in the video here, it’s not just you and I today. We have a guest here.

Richard: And a return guest at that.

Jesse: Absolutely. Yeah, you’re right. Eric was on one of the earlier podcasts. Let’s bring him on. Eric Suhonen. How are you?

Erik: I’m doing great. Thanks for having me on.

Jesse: Yeah. I know that you’ve been pretty busy lately. There’s been a lot going on at Ecwid. Maybe you can enlighten us.

Erik: Well, there has been a lot going on at Ecwid, as you said, and a lot of exciting stuff. One of the big things that, as of this recording that we announced yesterday, was that we completed our capital raise of forty-two million dollars and really excited about that great new capital partners with Morgan Stanley and Expand Capital. And so it’s just a really fantastic week for us.

Jesse: Awesome. Yes. There was a little champagne toast yesterday on a Zoom call. That was kind of how you do parties in this environment. But, yes. Super excited. I think for Ecwid listeners right now with more money means there’s going to be a lot more features, a lot more support, a lot more everything coming your way. We didn’t take the money just to take cash out. This is to grow to the next level and invest in a lot of different programs and things like that. Eric, that’s kind of your area. You do product partnerships and a whole host of other things. I know there’s some more features coming for our users.

Erik: Yeah, there’s a ton more. And there’s some that we’ve been talking about and some that we’ve heard from merchants, things that they would like new features, new ways of being able to sell. And so more robust control panel, a lot more on mobile new sales channels as we continue to invest in this omnichannel. And so lots of really interesting things that we’ve heard from merchants that they would want better on the product roadmap in ways that we can better support them. And of course, a lot of those are really how do we help small businesses around the world and especially in this COVID environment, and really been hyper-focused on that particular frame of small businesses in COVID and supporting them. And then beyond that as well.

Jesse: Perfect. So this podcast now, some of the people listening may have already received an email on this, depending on the country you’re in. But let’s get a little bit more specific into it. This is with a partner here and a pretty big partner, Facebook. So what are we working on with them?

Erik: Yeah, it is a pretty exciting initiative. And you mentioned that you’ve already talked quite a bit about COVID, and we’re all pretty familiar with that. But that’s really the backdrop of what we’ve been doing. And in addition to what I’m sure has been shared previously, we’ve continued to think about how we can support small businesses around the world in this new COVID environment. And I think if you haven’t learned already, we’ve moved a lot of our features, such as gift cards, into our free forever plan, which we think really helps small businesses globally to take advantage of that.

We’ve had a partnership with Facebook for many years now. We’ve done quite a bit with them. And it was a couple of months ago that we collaborated with them on additional things that we could do specific to COVID and helping small businesses. And one of the really exciting things that we are just launching is called the Support Small Businesses Initiative. And potentially some of you might have already seen it on Facebook. Whether you’re on the web or mobile, it is a very prominent Small Local Businesses display that shows up. And from a consumer perspective, the way it works is that you’re on Facebook, you see Support Local Businesses, and you click on that and it geo targets local businesses participating around you based on your zip code or if you’re in other countries, postal code, other ways of geo-targeting so that you have the ability to find those local businesses that are participating. This has started to roll out. There’s a number of different countries that we’ve already launched in and many more to come.

And the way it works for merchants, as Jesse said, if they’re already on Ecwid, likely have received an email. If not, depending on what country they’re in, they will receive an email. And it’s literally two clicks. And you’re in there’s it’s absolutely free with Ecwid, absolutely free with Facebook. And as soon as you say that this is something that you want to participate in, some of you will get free traffic from Facebook to your Ecwid store so that you can start supporting, so you can start selling gift cards or sell more gift cards. And so free gift cards and free traffic. We think it’s really a nice combination for small businesses in this corporate world.

Richard: So I just want to clarify here, Eric, just for a second, because this is one of those things where sometimes in life something sounds too good to be true. But this one sounds more like no brainer because of the COVID scenario; it sounds like Facebook is willing to say, hey, we get almost all of our money from businesses advertising. We understand some are struggling. And this is gonna be our way to give back, especially to the people in local communities. Part of why you get e-commerce is you can sell anywhere. And so you’re gonna be able to do that still. Obviously, nothing’s going to change in your Ecwid store. But this is a way for you that even though you’re in your house, it sounds as if it’s literally a no brainer. You’re gonna be able to buy a gift card. The merchant doesn’t pay extra any additional fees. They’re going to get traffic. When the consumer goes on, I saw a quick screenshot. It was somewhere right understories, but before the newsfeed, Support Local Business. And just for quick clarification here, for those that don’t know what geo-targeting is, it would be something as if it knows your zip code and there’s a circumference around you of some size, five miles, 10 miles, 20 miles. I don’t know how big that is, but all the businesses that are participating in that area are going to then show up on your screen, and you can choose between them. Is that that what we’re talking about here?

Erik: Yeah, that’s exactly the experience as a consumer. You will get that very prominent Support Local Businesses. You click on that, and then you can say, I’m looking to buy a gift card for my local hair salon or a local restaurant or a local whatever type of store that either you have been frequenting and maybe they’re closed. It’s a way to support them, even if their shop is closed. And so that’s that’s exactly how it works. It’s really super easy for the merchant. And then also a whole new experience for the consumer as well.

Richard: So what kind of process is this to set up? Is this tedious? Are these one-two clicks? How much time is a merchant looking at to get this setup?

Erik: Yeah. For the merchants that have received the email and gone through the process, I’m sure they’re pretty surprised how easy it is. Literally, you get the email, you click twice, say that this is something I want to participate in and you’re off and running. So that’s two clicks, and that’s it. And then depending on what country you’re in, what geo you were in, then you’ll start to see to get traffic to your Ecwid store from Facebook.

Jesse: Eric, on the on the gift cards there. Is it any amount, or do you have to choose a particular amount for a gift card on your store?

Erik: Any amount.

Jesse: OK, so you don’t really have to set up gift cards as a product. You just say, yes, I want to sell gift cards. Click into that. And it’s kind of automatically set up in your store.

Erik: Yeah. And to be very specific, within your Ecwid store, either you have gift cards already set up, and it’s just sending traffic to that. Or if you don’t have gift cards already set up, that’s OK. Then you just set that up, which is really easy for whatever amount than you want. And then it’s sending traffic to your Ecwid store to sell those gift cards.

Jesse: Perfect. We did reference that we’ve had some other podcasts about what Ecwid is doing for the pandemic, and gift cards used to be a paid feature. We did move that into a free feature. So this is now you can sell gift cards for free. And Facebook is going to market this for free. I even clarify what we mentioned and where it shows up in the Facebook news feed. So, if you open up your phone, they are at the top of your news feed. When you go into Facebook, it’s right at the top. I wouldn’t even call it an advertisement. Those would be further down the news feed. There’s this thing that you’re blind to ads at some point. This is like front and center. I would say it’s better than advertising. It’s really, really hard to miss this. And again, that very special word free.

Richard: That’s what I was just going to say to piggyback on yours. You said it’s better than advertising. I would definitely say you’re in a better space. That’s not going to be missed. And I don’t know this for certain. So it’s kind of a question as I make this statement. I’d imagine that this is showing up on if not everybody’s a phone when they log in. A high percentage, unlike an ad where it’s only going to show up based on the percentage of the amount you’re spending. Is that correct? Again, I know you probably don’t know the specifics of exactly how many phones it’s showing upon, but it’s definitely gonna be a higher percentage than you may or may not see it scrolling through your feed.

Erik: Yeah, it is very, very prominent for those people that have it on their feed. We know what countries that we’ve launched in, and we have launched it in eight countries already. And some of those were just this week. So this is a brand new feature. And then there’s many more countries to come. Most of the countries that we’ve been focusing on already, the U.S., the U.K., Ireland, Italy, France, Germany, Spain and Australia, more developed countries, North America, Western Europe, for instance, will continue to launch in additional countries. And APAC is one of the additional regions that Facebook is going to be launching in, which means we’ll be launching with them. And so we’re trying to get this to as many countries as possible.

Jesse: So, Eric, I imagine this works pretty well for restaurants as well. Restaurants can also use these gift cards that they’ve been particularly hit hard in this in the pandemic. So it works for restaurants as well.

Erik: It does work for restaurants as well. And I think about it as there are two buckets that I think people can leverage it for said restaurants and those that have a physical store, that is physical brick and mortar, that really have with COVID or struggling to sell and need to be able to open that up in a physical way that already maybe they have some type of product. It could be food, but it could be a different type of product that really helps them to just generate additional revenue.

And then there’s the other bucket; a hairstylist might be an example of someone in the other bucket, which is they don’t have any products. I mean, maybe they have some hair products, but the majority of their revenue is coming from something service-based, cutting hair, whatever that might be. And they are some for some of them around the world. They just physically and maybe legally can’t even open their doors at all. So when we talk about curbside pickup. Sure. That makes sense for a restaurant or someone that has products, but it doesn’t make sense for someone who’s a hairstylist. And so for those that are in that second bucket, like a hairstylist, it’s a great way.

And I put myself into that, as I think there’s so many local businesses around that I love their services and their great local businesses. And I really I can’t support them right now because of COVID. Oh, great. Now I can go, and I can buy some gift cards that then I can use in the future when they go and open up. So it’s a win for me. It’s a win for them. They’re getting revenue even if they can’t open their doors. And it’s a win for me because I’m helping to keep my local businesses alive because I want them there as things start to open up. And it’s, it’s a win-win on both sides.

Richard: That’s a great point because they’re getting their revenue now when that gift card is purchased. they’re actually receiving their revenue now. So even if they can’t open or they need some additional money to get back open because they need to put certain things in place, that this is going to be helping them out a lot. That’s a great point. What is the actual experience for the person holding the gift card? Do they get an email? It is something they’re scanned in. Is it a code? Like how does that work?

Erik: Yeah, the gift card functionality and Jesse knows some of this as well, is built right into the Ecwid platform and it’s pretty easy to set up. But also you can almost think of it as just another type of product in your Ecwid store. And so you can think about that the same way you go to a store is that I want a gift card for X amount and go to the checkout process and boom, everything’s the same. So it is pretty streamlined, just as any other product would be.

Richard: How about as far as the redeeming of it? I go to a store; I want to support the local restaurant. I buy a gift card. I’m assuming there’s not a physical gift card that’s now getting sent in the mail to me. I’m getting some sort of email receipt or bar code or something. And then I just еake that to the restaurant, the rest restaurant has some way of referencing that’s now been used or something like that?

Erik: Yeah, Jesse, do you want to take that, or you want me to?

Jesse: I’ll let you take that, but I would say, Rich, you don’t have to mail a physical card. This can be all electronic. It would be a nice touch to mail something physically as well. But that’s not required. But yeah, it can be a unique code that can be redeemed. So that way, it can’t be shared or stolen on the Internet.

Richard: That’s great.

Erik: Yeah. However, if the merchant wants to do it. If they want it physical, they can do a physical. If they want it digital, they can do it digitally.

Richard: I’d imagine right now people would want it digital anyway. Not only would it be additional work out to your point, though, maybe a Christmas or something, there would be a nice touch, but it’s definitely not needed. And I guess the reason why I was asking that is in some way; this even keeps potentially some of physical distancing. Apart from that, you’re not actually touching other things right now. Hopefully, that doesn’t last for a long time. But, you get to support it. It’s easy to set up. Businesses are getting revenue. Now Facebook is sending you free traffic. Ecwid made it free. I mean, this literally sounds like a no brainer to me.

Erik: It yeah, it is a no brainer. We’re excited that we’re one of the few partners that are working with Facebook on this. And I think that was just the result of long years of a good partnership with Facebook also. So it’s not open. I just want to be clear, like it’s not open to everybody. You do have to be a merchant on the Ecwid platform. You can’t just go to Facebook and do this. It is specifically through just a few partners like Ecwid. I think the important thing is just to know that it is through Ecwid and not just a general Facebook program.

Jesse: But you could sign up right now if you’re not an Ecwid merchant. FYI, go and create. If you’ve listened to this far and you’re not a merchant, I’d be a little surprised. But if you haven’t, you want to send it to your friend. I mean, obviously, this is really good for local businesses. We’re seeing a lot of new people signing up for Ecwid that didn’t previously work with us. They weren’t traditional e-commerce. So as you mentioned, a lot of these service-based businesses, even a lot of personal trainers, they’ll sign up, and then they’ll sell. It’s a Zoom link. A lot of new customers there, local people that had brick and mortar businesses that are now opening up an e-commerce option as well. A lot of new people out there. And now you can sell gift cards, get your free traffic from Facebook. So definitely a win-win all around.

Erik: Yeah, that’s so true. A personal trainer is a great example of this. There’s so many in that service base that can leverage this.

Richard: Yeah, even though I’m part of the show, I don’t actually work at Ecwid, but I really just want to say thank you to you guys, because this isn’t the only thing, I’ve just constantly seen you guys making changes to make this better for the merchants. And it’s it’s obvious that this is a big win. There’ll be some form of reciprocity. I mean, obviously doing goodwill. You’re a business, so it’ll win. But you’re deferring what you could try to make people up, charge them to get to a higher program. But you’re giving away for free. And I just really want to thank you, guys — just human to humans and businessmen to business. Thanks for looking out for small businesses. It’s a big part of all of our lives. Again, e-commerce. We want to sell to as many people all around the world as possible. But when we wake up and we walk our kids, and we walk our dogs, and we go to the gas station like we were experiencing local businesses pretty much on daily and just want to say thanks.

Erik: Yeah, I appreciate that. It reminds me that Ecwid is a very mission-based company, and we have a very specific mission that all employees know. And we’ve pushed this out publicly, too. And it really is to support the small businesses around the world. And in the vein of that mission, too. This is a really unique time, and it is an important time that we help businesses to survive and thrive. The more that we can do that, the more just fits right into our mission. Yes, there’s some kind of business part of it. But a lot of the discussions that we’ve had across Ecwid like this is a unique time that we need to really support each other. And this is a good way to do it.

Jesse: Yeah, well said, if local businesses need to keep their doors open, they have rent to pay, they have expenses. So if your local business and you haven’t thought about the ability to sell, sell gift cards like this is an opportunity. Very simple. So, Richie, do you have any last questions here for Eric or any last thoughts to share?

Richard: If anything, to tell you the truth, now that I’ve thought this out and we just we’re bringing this to a close. It literally is making me want to even talk to more of my local businesses around here. I’ve already talked about Ecwid a million times over. But some of the ones to your point, that didn’t really seem like a fit in the beginning, that this is still worth mentioning this. And I’ll definitely pass this podcast on to them because this is something that could pretty much help any business and then should they ever decide to extend and take advantage of all the other features and Ecwid. Great. But regardless, this is something that could benefit their business. So, again, I’d just like to say thanks to you guys and all you’re doing to support businesses in general and especially local businesses. And congratulations again, both of you, on the capital raise. I look forward to seeing all the additional features and things you do to help businesses moving forward.

Erik: That’s an exciting time with that, and as I said, we’re very focused on helping small businesses through this. And I think together we’re gonna get through this.

Richard: So it sounds like time to get back to work. Time to feed the kids.

Jesse: Yes, indeed. Yeah, we raised money, now we’ve got to get back to work. So for everybody listening out there, you know what to do out there. Make it happen.

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