How to quickly set up gift cards in WooCommerce with Jilt

Self-isolating began last month across the U.S. and as economic impacts became clear, small- and medium-sized business owners across the world found themselves in a tenuous, uncertain, and uncharted situation. And as customers have realized their favorite local and online businesses could be in trouble, many have started rallying around them, continuing to buy from them and encouraging others to do so as well.

One of the biggest rallying cries has been: “Buy a gift card.” If a store you love is struggling right now, you can still buy a gift card to help give them an infusion of cash. Then, once they’re back on solid ground again in the future, you can use that gift card to make a purchase. 

Customers want to support their favorite businesses, and one of the ways they want to do that is by buying gift cards—especially if the businesses have low stock or limited inventory right now. That way, customers can help give a business a cash infusion now when they need it most, and then make a purchase when the store is back to full strength and fully stocked.

As an eCommerce store owner, in order to sell gift cards… well, you have to be set up to sell gift cards. But the process of researching gift card plugins or services, trying a few out, buying one, and setting one up in your store may seem prohibitive—that process sounds like it could take a lot of time and effort when you’re already so busy and stressed as it is. 

If you’re on Shopify, there’s a built-in gift card feature available on all plans—just activate it and you can start selling! WooCommerce, however, doesn’t have that functionality baked in. So we have a quick solution you can employ on your WooCommerce store to sell gift cards with Jilt—that’s right, you don’t need any new plugins or anything else beyond the Jilt app you’re already using for your email marketing.

This idea came from our friends at Post Status, a Jilt customer using WooCommerce and WooCommerce Memberships, who recently received a request for a gift card and whipped up the solution that same day. We loved their innovative use of Jilt, and wanted to pass it along.

Before we dive in, it’s important to note this method isn’t going to be as robust or feature-heavy as a paid gift card plugin (like PDF Product Vouchers or Gift Cards)—there are a few trade-offs for the speed and cost savings of going this route, which we’ll cover in this post. However, if you wish you had gift cards set up yesterday for your eCommerce store, and you want to put them on sale today using the tools you’ve already got, this solution should definitely meet your needs.

Step 1: WooCommerce setup

First, we need to create our gift card product for customers to buy. Under the Products menu in the WooCommerce sidebar, click Add New. Enter a product name and description for your gift card. For this demo, I went with “$50 gift card” as the product name.

The Product data section is where you’ll set up the details of the gift card. In the General tab, choose Simple product and check the box for Virtual. Then enter your price.

Setting up a simple virtual gift card in WooCommerce.

In the Inventory tab, you can enter a SKU for the product, then check the box for Sold individually. One of the limitations of this system is that customers can only purchase one gift card at a time. However, they can purchase other products along with the gift card—just not multiple quantities of the same gift card, as only one email for one gift card will be sent.

That’s all it takes to create the gift card! Anything else you do in the setup is up to you, although we do recommend writing a short description, creating a product category for gift cards (especially if you plan to feature more than one denomination), and whipping up an image to display as well.

Product page setup for a gift card.
I actually took the time to Photoshop together a sample gift card… and *that’s* what I wound up with. [Ed. note: you’re fired, Sam.]

Here’s a look at the gift card listing when it’s live in the store.

The $50 gift card in store.

Step 2: Jilt setup

Now that your gift card is all set up in your store, it’s time to set up the redemption email on Jilt.

On the Jilt app, click on “Automations” in the sidebar, then click “+New campaign” in the top right. 

Setting up a new automation in Jilt.

On the New campaign screen, select a “Custom order campaign.” Give it a name for internal use (like “Gift card voucher,” as I used here). Then click “Create campaign.”

Setting up a custom order campaign.

Now we’ll set up two segmentation rules to make sure the email goes out to the right people. Click “+ Advanced: Add rules” and then click “Order details.”

For the first rule, click “Order status,” then choose “includes any of,” and select both “processing” and “completed.” Click “Add rule.”

Setting up the segmentation rules.

For the second rule, click again click “+Advanced: Add rules” and then “Order details.” Click “Order products,” then choose “includes any of,” and select the name of your gift card. Click “Add rule.”

Segmenting on order products.

Now it’s time to set up the email. First, set the email to go out right after the customer buys the gift card. (I went with “Send automatically” “3” “Minutes” after automation entry.) Click “Save changes.”

Setting the send time.

Next, click on the sample email (“An update from [store name]”) to edit the email.

I changed the subject line to “{{ customer.first_name | default: ‘Hey there’ }}, your gift card is ready!” 

For the body of the email, I dragged in a “Products” block and changed several of the settings.

  • I changed the headline from “Our top picks…” to “$50 to [store name].”
  • For “Show these products,” I picked “Let me choose.” Then I chose the $50 gift card.
  • I set “Number of recommended products” to 1.
  • For “Product data,” I unchecked “Product name” and “Price.”
  • For “Columns,” I chose 1.
  • And for “Call to action button visibility,” I chose “Hide call to action button.”
Displaying the product in the email.

Then I dragged in a “Discount code” block. We’ll take advantage of Jilt’s dynamic discount code feature at this point to generate a unique code for the customer’s gift card. Yes, the “gift card” is really just a large discount under the surface here.

Adding the discount block.

The next step is to properly set up the discount code. Click “+New discount.”

  • The “Discount type” is “Automatically generated,” as Jilt will create a unique, single-use code for this customer.
  • I named it “50-gift-card” for internal use.
  • The “Type” is “Fixed amount,” and the “Amount” is $50.
  • I left “Valid for” blank, as it’s illegal in some jurisdictions to give gift cards expiration dates.
  • I set the “Minimum order price” at $50. That’s a limitation of this system—the gift card can’t be used piecemeal, it can only be used on one transaction. I’ve noted that on the product page in WooCommerce, and it could be good to mention in the email as well. This is especially well suited for offering gift cards that are meant to be used with specific items at specific price points (like a membership). You can use product and email copy to make clear that’s the intention, e.g., “Thanks for purchasing your gift card for a Gold Membership!”

Click “Add discount” to create the discount.

Setting up the discount code.

Then I changed the text around the discount code and clicked “Save changes” to complete the email.

Saving the final email.

So now, when a customer orders a gift card, here’s what they’ll receive in their inbox. 

The gift card email.

(Note: If you have transactional emails set up to send order receipts, the customer will also receive a standard receipt email for the order. That will contain all the nuts-and-bolts of the purchase including payment details. If you’ve got a few extra minutes, you could even set up a special version of your receipt for orders containing gift cards that let the customers know the gift card redemption email is on the way.)

Different denominations of gift cards

One limitation of this system, as we noted earlier, is a customer can’t purchase more than one gift card—the system will only send out this gift card receipt once per product per transaction, even if a customer purchases more than one. However, you could set up gift cards in different denominations, and your customers could buy one of each of those in a single transaction.

To make that happen, set up a new product for each denomination of gift card (e.g., $25 gift card, $50 gift card, $100 gift card). Then set up a unique “Custom order campaign” for each of them.

Summary

This entire project can take less than 15 minutes (especially if you phone in the design of the gift card and email copy like I did 🤷‍♂️), so it can save you a tremendous amount of time and potential expense that comes with finding, vetting, installing, and testing a suitable gift card plugin. 

The top benefits are:

  • Speed. The goal right now is to get gift cards on sale as soon as possible. With this solution, you’ll have gift cards available in your store in a matter of minutes.
  • Cost. This doesn’t require a new paid plugin, so it won’t add a new expense to your store.
  • Familiar tools. You’re already using Jilt for your WooCommerce store, so this entire process just requires setting up one more email using the tools you’re already familiar with. There’s no need to research, test, or troubleshoot different plugins. 
  • Viability. This can be an MVP, or minimum viable product, gift card solution. Yes, you may want to set up a more robust gift card system on your site one day. This system allows you to get something in place until that day finally arrives. It’s not letting the quest for perfection stand in the way of progress.

The trade-offs are:

  • One per order. Customers can only order one gift card per order (unless you set up multiple denominations as separate products).
  • No gift receipts. If the customer is buying the gift card as a present, the redemption email will still go to them, not the person for whom they’re buying the gift card. Then they’ll have to forward it along to their intended recipient.
  • Single-use gift card. The customer has to use the gift card on a single purchase and can’t spread it over multiple transactions. (Though, as noted, this may not be an issue for you if you frame the gift card as intended to be redeemed for a specific product.)
  • No unified gift card area. Because the gift card is really a dynamically generated coupon code, you won’t have any specific place to quickly see all of the outstanding gift cards that haven’t yet been used.
  • A big “discount” in play. You’ve got to be careful not to accidentally drop the gift card discount into other emails, or suddenly you’ll be blasting out $50 off coupons to your entire list. That would probably be bad for business.

However, in exchange for the speed and cost savings of this method, we hope you’ll find those minor trade-offs worthwhile—and this method will help you start selling gift cards immediately. And, of course, please feel free to reach out to support if you have any questions as you’re setting up your Jilt-based gift cards!

Sam Greenspan
Sam Greenspan is a Marketer at Jilt based out of Southern California. He's a veteran blogger as well as an author, board game inventor, and recovering t-shirt collector.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *