The holiday season may be behind us, but Scottsdale resident and business owner Anastasios “Taso” Tirkas hopes to inspire a gift-giving culture year-round.
“As we advance over the next decade with virtual reality and artificial intelligence, we want to keep the feeling of joy among friends, family, and community alive,” Tirkas said.
How Tirkas plans to do that? Through Gift3r App, a cloud-based application and digital marketing platform for electronic gift cards — eGift cards — not only allowing users to purchase gifts cards for friends, family and even themselves, but also allow small local businesses to venture into the gift card industry in a less costly and less complicated way.
“Gift cards are an extremely powerful tool for local businesses,” Tirkas said.
Not to mention, the U.S. gift card industry is a $160-billion industry.
As the founder and CEO of southern Scottsdale-based Gift3r App, Tirkas’ goal is three-fold, hence the number three in the app’s name: to allow users to buy and share gift cards; to “empower” three groups of people: family, friends and the community; and to encourage the act of giving, receiving and reciprocating.
“Gift3r App makes it easier and less costly for business owners to tap into the revenue-generating opportunities of gift cards,” Tirkas said.
The Gift3r App technology platform reduces the cost and complexity of creating, managing, redeeming and marketing gift cards for local business owners.
When businesses opt for traditional, tangible gift cards, they incur a handful of costs, including point-of-sale and website integration costs, plastic gift card inventory, monthly point of sale (POS) fees and program access and more.
With Gift3r, businesses pay payment gateway fees (an average of 2.8 percent plus 30 cents per transaction) and business fees (3.7 percent plus $1 per eGift card sale, versus 4 to 10 percent per eGift card sale).
For physical gift cards, Tirkas said, “It’s difficult for the businesses to keep track of the balances.” With Gift3r, however, all gift cards are stored in the app and there’s zero plastic card inventory.
Plus, there’s no need to print vouchers, and the app gives businesses access to their sales revenue, profits, redemption amounts and more.
“Beyond the gift card amount, national surveys have shown consumers will spend $59 more than the gift card value. Local business owners need access to this kind of sales revenue,” Tirkas said.
According to recent reports, 74 percent of consumers surveyed said they buy gift cards from small businesses and 90 percent of people will return to a business after going for the first time with the gift card.
“The main problem is,” Tirkas said, “when we buy gift cards, we buy gift cards from local grocery stores. So, you don’t have access to Salut Kitchen; you don’t have access to Four Peaks, Postino’s.”
That’s why app users can search for their favorite local shops and restaurants and invite businesses to join the app with the click of a button.
Users can also add their favorite local businesses to a “wish list” on their profile, which introduces the local business to other app users.
For businesses, Gift3r also allows for in-app eGift card promotions, allowing greater market reach and lead generation.
When businesses set up eGift card special offers, they show up at the top of search results in their area.
“No one is doing what Gift3r App does, on a very technical level,” said Chito Collins, Gift3r App’s chief revenue officer.
Collins added: “Having worked for various leading acquirers and processors, I was involved with companies offering the traditional gift card solutions. I believe Anastasios and his eGift card platform is going to revolutionize the gift card market with his compelling, easy to use and true value add propositions to local businesses.”
Tirkas launched the app, which is now available on both Google Play and the Apple App Store, at an opportune time.
Though consumers still prefer physical gift cards over eGift cards (75 versus 25 percent, respectively), 55 percent of consumers – particularly millennials – surveyed by Blackhawk Network for a 2018 study said they are interested in giving or receiving digital gift cards can be added to a mobile app or digital wallet.
According to The State of Consumer Gift Card Preferences in 2018 study, 55 percent are interested in giving and 67 percent are interested in receiving a digital gift card.
As a 14-year restaurateur, Tirkas has seen the rise of and increased interest in eGift cards.
Tirkas was a founding partner of Salut Kitchen Bar in Tempe and started a small chain of fast-casual Greek restaurants throughout the Phoenix area, now defunct.
“How we experience joy is evolving with the influence of technology,” said Dr. Alexis Karkotis, an anthropologist who specializes in gift economies and emerging technologies.
“We’re meeting consumer demand for instant gratification by offering a giving experience in just three clicks and by catering consumer desire for highly personalized gifts from local businesses with which a personal connection is maintained,” Karkotis continued.
Currently, Gift3r has about 10 participating local businesses on the app.
Gift card amounts range from $5 to $50 on Gift3r, and there are no app, expiration, activation or non-use fees.
Users redeem eGift cards for free and there are no expiration dates.
Tirkas will present the Gift3r App at the Consumer Electronics Show from Jan. 7-10.
Businesses interested in joining the Gift3r App community and/or for more information about the app, visit gift3rapp.com.