As more retailers look to build on the momentum of digital growth in 2021, Tops Markets LLC has partnered with global branded payments provider Blackhawk Network to make its online experience more seamless by selling Tops-branded physical and digital gift cards on its website.
"The pandemic significantly changed how people shop and pay for groceries, and we wanted a partner that could help us launch our online gift card program quickly to meet these rapidly emerging shopping preferences," said Diane Colgan, SVP at Tops. "Blackhawk's powerful end-to-end solutions helped us create smooth omnichannel gifting options for our guests, since the cards can be bought online wherever people are shopping and redeemed in-store or online at their recipients' convenience. Online gift cards can also be used to give back to those in need in the community throughout the year by gifting a Tops gift card to your local food bank or food pantry, a cause that Tops supports with its Neighbors Helping Neighbors mission."
The pandemic has certainly fueled shoppers’ interest in online shopping: Data from Blackhawk Network's 2020 BrandedPay Post-Holiday Report revealed an 80% increase in digital gift card sales and a nearly 40% increase in online gift card sales this past shopping season. Further, 2020 holiday sales data from Blackhawk Network's partners revealed that gift cards sold directly from a merchant's website were up 70% over 2019.
"The widespread demand for digital gifting options and gift card e-commerce programs has become glaringly evident over the last year and especially the recent holiday shopping season," said Jennifer Philo, GVP, U.S. digital commerce and loyalty at Pleasanton, California-based Blackhawk Network. "Empowering shoppers with multiple paths to purchase can help merchants like Tops tap into new buyer segments, open opportunities for cross- and up-selling, drive brand awareness, create customized promotions and encourage customer loyalty. Online gift card programs complement in-store gift card malls and provide added opportunities for consumers to buy company-branded gift cards — a must-have for 2021 marketing mixes."
Blackhawk's technology allows tailored experiences that include distribution, automated marketing promotions and fraud mitigation at a time when optimized e-commerce gift card programs are more popular than ever.
WinCo Foods also partnered with Blackhawk Network in December 2020 to launch a new set of gift card offerings in-store for its shoppers. The partnership enables Boise, Idaho-based WinCo Foods to provide a more convenient experience for customers by offering new multistore original-content gift cards to shoppers as part of their in-store experience.
Meanwhile, Tops recently entered into a definitive merger agreement with Schenectady, New York-based Price Chopper/Market 32 that creates a powerful alliance between the two independent grocery chains and nearly doubles their collective footprint in the Northeast.
Williamsville, New York-based Tops operates 157 supermarkets, with five additional franchise stores, and employs 15,000 associates in New York, northern Pennsylvania, and western Vermont. The company is No. 63 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2020 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America. WinCo is No. 44 on PG's list.