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Manage Gift Certificates

Understanding Gift Certificates

ProductCart allows you to professionally handle the sale of Gift Certificates on your store. The system supports both electronic and physical gift certificates. See an overview of Gift Certificates support in our shopping cart software.

To add a new Gift Certificate, or view a list of existing Gift Certificates, select Settings > Manage Gift Certificates. A link to the same feature is also available from the Products menu.

The top section of the page contains links to adding a new Gift Certificate, or viewing existing Gift Certificates. The bottom section of the page allows you to locate previously purchased Gift Certificates.

There is a difference between a Gift Certificate Product and a Purchased Gift Certificate. A Purchased Gift Certificate is a unique instance of a Gift Certificate Product, associated with a unique key (Gift Certificate code) that allows the recipient to redeem it. The following section describes the difference.

  • Gift Certificates or Gift Certificate Products
    These are the various types of Gift Certificates available for purchase on your store. For example, you may have a $20 Gift Certificate, a $50 Gift Certificate, etc. This is not the unique Gift Certificate purchased by a customer, but rather the “original” product from which that unique certificate is created. Gift Certificates can be either physical products or “electronic only”.
  • Purchased Gift Certificates
    These are are the unique Gift Certificates purchased by a customer. When a customer buys a Gift Certificate by choosing from one of the various types of Gift Certificates available on the store, ProductCart generates a unique key that identifies that specific Gift Certificate and separates it from any other Gift Certificate created on the store. This way ProductCart can track the use of the Gift Certificate and know whether the certificate is valid, whether it has expired or not, and whether it has been fully redeemed or not (i.e. whether there is money left for the customer to spend or not).

In the Control Panel, you have access to both. You will create and edit Gift Certificates to make them available for sale on your store. You will review and manage Purchased Gift Certificates to assist customers that have previously purchased a Gift Certificate.

Let’s start by describing how a Gift Certificate is added to the store.

Adding a new Gift Certificate

Gift Certificates behave just like any other product in your store, until they are purchased. Just like any other product, they are assigned to one or more categories, have a price associated with them, images, possibly a weight (physical gift certificate), and more.

To add a new Gift Certificate, or view a list of existing Gift Certificates, select Products > Add New Product. There is a section of the add/modify product page that is specific to Gift Certificates.

Fill out the top section of the page just like you do with any other product. If this is a physical Gift Certificate (i.e. a card is sent to the customer), enter a weight for the product. If not, leave those fields blank.

As you scroll down the page entering information for the product, you will reach a section called Gift Certificate Settings. Click “Yes” to the question of whether this is a Gift Certificate, and a new portion of the page will be revealed to you. Here is a description of the settings found there:

  • Expiration:. You can set up a Gift Certificate so that it expires on a certain date, or N days after the purchase date. Of course, you can also configure it so that it never expires. If expiration is set, customers who purchase this type of Gift Certificate will not be able to use it after it has expired. However, keep in mind that you can edit a Purchased Gift Certificate in the Control Panel to change its expiration, if needed.
  • Electronic Only. In most cases, your Gift Certificates will be Electronic Only. That is: no physical gift card or certificate is sent to the recipient of the Gift Certificate, but rather an email message containing the certificate details and the coupon code to be used for its redemption.

If you check the Electronic Only check box, the product will automatically be considered a non-shipping, tax-free product, and those product options will be set for you when the product is saved to the database. When the customer checks out with a shopping cart that only contains an electronic-only Gift Certificate, shipping and tax calculations are automatically skipped.

  • Code Generator. When a Gift Certificate is purchased, it must be unique. Otherwise, there would be no way for your store to identify it when a customer redeems it. Therefore, ProductCart comes equipped with a default code generator that will create a unique Gift Certificate code for each Gift Certificate that is purchased on your store.

    The default code generator is an ASP file called DefaultGiftCode.asp, which is located in the pcadmin/licenses folder. You don’t need to edit this file in any way, unless you wish to change the type of unique code that is generated by ProductCart. If you wish to edit the file, of if you want to create an entirely new script based on this file, open it in Notepad or with your favorite ASP development tool. You will notice that the file is heavily commented to make editing easy for any knowledgeable ASP developer.

By editing DefaultGiftCode.asp, you can have ProductCart create Gift Certificate codes that meet your specific needs. For example, you could retrieve existing data from a database of unique Gift Certificate codes that have already been generated by another application and that are used in other places (e.g. you sell Gift Certificates elsewhere, such as in your retail shop).

You're done. Click on “Add” to save the product to the store database. Your new Gift Certificate will be accessible in your storefront just like any other product.

As mentioned in the section above, most of your Gift Certificates will likely be Electronic Only, which means that they will be treated as products for which there is no shipping and no taxes. Customers will receive their unique Gift Certificate code in an e-mail message, since no product is sent to them.

The price of a Gift Certificate CANNOT be altered by using product options. If you need a $20, $50 and $100 Gift Certificate, you will need to setup three different Gift Certificate Products. There are a number of technical reasons why this is the case. You can use the cloning feature to quickly create new Gift Certificate Products from the original one.

Selling physical Gift Certificates

ProductCart also allows you to sell physical Gift Certificates as follows:

  • Do not check the Electronic Only check box.
  • Since the product's weight will likely be very small (e.g. a gift card), use the Units to make 1 lb. (Kg.) feature to specify its weight.
  • Unlike with Electronic Only Gift Certificates, customers that purchase this type of certificate will be charged shipping, handling (if any), and taxes.
  • ProductCart does not contain an application to print the actual Gift Certificates. The system will generate a unique code for the certificate, just like with electronic Gift Certificates. It will then be up to you to print that unique code on the physical Gift Certificate before mailing it to the customer.
  • An e-mail containing the Gift Certificate code is sent by ProductCart when the order is processed, regardless of whether the Gift Certificate will also be mailed.

Viewing and editing purchased Gift Certificates

There may be times when your store receives inquiries about Gift Certificates that customers have previously purchased. For example, customers may lose their Gift Certificate code, ask whether it was fully redeemed or not, or forget that the Gift Certificate would expire and ask for the expiration to be extended.

This information is always available to the customer that purchased the Gift Certificate through the View Previous Orders section of the customer’s account area. However, the recipient of the Gift Certificate will often be someone other than the person that bought it, and therefore not have access to that information.

Retrieving information about previously purchased Gift Certificates

ProductCart has a way for store managers to quickly retrieve information about previously purchased Gift Certificates. From the Manage Products > Manage Gift Certificates page, use the lower part of the window to look for a specific Gift Certificate or click on View All to show all of them. ProductCart will display a list of Gift Certificates that meet your search criteria.

For each of them, the system shows: Gift Certificate Name, Unique Code, Date of Purchase, Order Number, Expiration (if any), Amount still available for redemption (which is zero if the certificate has been fully redeemed), and the certificate’s status.

Reasons that a Gift Certificate may not be active

If a Gift Certificate is inactive, it is most likely because of one or more of the following reasons:

  1. It has been fully redeemed
  2. It has expired
  3. It has been made inactive by the store administrator

To edit any of the certificate’s properties, click on the View/Edit link. Use this page to edit that particular Gift Certificate: no other Gift Certificates will be edited. You can edit the expiration, available amount, and the certificate’s status.

You cannot change the Gift Certificate’s unique code.

Information on a gift certificate is also available at the bottom of the order details page of the order that the certificate was purchased with. This information is shown both in the storefront and in the Control Panel version of these pages.

Customer experience: buying a Gift Certificate

As mentioned earlier in this chapter, Gift Certificates behave just like any other product in your storefront. Customers will find Gift Certificates when they browse or search for products, add them to the shopping cart, and go through the checkout process, just like with any other product.

If the Gift Certificate is Electronic Only, they will not be charged shipping and taxes.

There is, however, a notable difference in the checkout process when a customer is purchasing a Gift Certificate. Customers will have the option to notify the person that they are buying the Gift Certificate for, if they wish to.

Notifying a Gift Certificate Recipient

After the shopping cart page, and before the login/registration page, ProductCart will prompt your customers to notify the recipient of the Gift Certificate by entering his/her name, e-mail address, and a message. This is not a required checkout step: if no recipient is specified, the customer can still checkout.

When the order is processed, ProductCart automatically sends to the recipient (if one was specified by the buyer of the certificate) a message containing information about the Gift Certificate (including the Gift Certificate code to redeem it) and the message entered by the customer. No message is sent if the order is still pending.

The email that is sent to the recipient contains the following information (all text strings can be edited by editing the file includes/languages.asp):

Dear <Recipient Name>,
<Customer Name> purchased a Gift Certificate(s) for you from our online store. 
Use the Gift Certificate code shown below when placing an order on our store.
Gift Certificate amount: <Gift Certificate Amount>
Gift Certificate code: <Unique Gift Certificate Code>
Expiration: <Expiration – If any>
This is an electronic Gift Certificate. A certificate will not be shipped to you. <Added If Electronic Only>
<Customer Name> also included this note:
<Gift Certificate Note>
<Store Name & URL>

The customer that is placing the order will receive the Order Received and Order Confirmation e-mails when the order is placed and processed. These are independent of the message sent to the recipient of the Gift Certificate, if any. Both messages contain all the Gift Certificate details, including the unique Gift Certificate code necessary to redeem it. A Gift Certificate is not tied to a customer (an electronic coupon can be). So anyone in possession of an active Gift Certificate code can redeem it.

In ProductCart v3.5 and above you can resend the Gift Certificate notification to the recipient, if needed (e.g. customer calls in and says that his/her friend did not receive the Gift Certificate notification message). You can find the tool that allows you to perform this task on the Other Details tab of the order details page. The message originally sent to the recipient by the customer that placed the order is hidden, for privacy reasons. You can either resend the original message, or send a new one.

In ProductCart v3.5 you can resend the Gift Certificate notification to the recipient, if needed

Customer experience: redeeming a Gift Certificate

Let’s assume that a gift certificate has been purchased, the corresponding order has been processed, and that the recipient has been notified of the gift (via e-mail , by mailing a card, etc.). The person that is in possession of the Gift Certificate code can now use it at any time prior to the expiration date (if any) to receive a discount on a purchase.

Where Gift Certificates are redeemed

Gift Certificates, just like coupons, are entered in the Discount or Gift Certificate Code input field located in the payment section of One Page Checkout (v4, file name: onePageCheckout.asp) or in the lower section of the order verification page (prior to v4, file name: pc/orderVerify.asp). The customer will enter the code and click on the Recalculate button to apply the discount.

Redeeming multiple Gift Certificates

ProductCart v4 and above support the redemption of multiple Gift Certificates against the same order. Earlier versions of ProductCart only supported the redemption of one Gift Certificate per order.

Gift Certificate cannot be redeemed

If the Gift Certificate is not valid (its unique Gift Certificate code is not found in the store database), has expired, has been fully redeemed, or is inactive, a corresponding message is shown. These messages can be edited by editing the file includes/languages.asp.

In the example shown above this customer is applying a $40 Gift Certificate to the order. The customer entered the certificate’s code in the Discount or Gift Certificate Code input field located in the lower part of the page, and then clicked on the Recalculate button.

Full vs. partial redemption

  • When the amount available on the Gift Certificate exceeds the total products purchased, the Gift Certificate is redeemed only for the amount that equals the total products purchased. The rest of the funds remain available for a future purchase.
  • When the amount available on the Gift Certificate is lower or equal to the total products purchased, the Gift Certificate is fully redeemed and can no longer be used once the order has been placed. Note that what counts is when the order is placed, not when the order is processed.
  • If the order total is zero after Gift Certificates are applied, customers will be able to place the order without entering any payment information. ProductCart will skip the payment step.

Gift Certificate and shipping charges

In ProductCart v4 and above, you can define whether a Gift Certificate should be applied against any shipping charges or not. You can do so by using the corresponding setting under Settings > Manage Gift Certificates.

In earlier versions of ProductCart this setting did not exist. However, you could modify this behavior by performing a small code change to the file pc/orderVerify.asp. If you open the file with your favorite HTML editor, you will see the following line of code towards the top of the page.

intGCIncludeShipping=0

Change the value to 1 to have the system apply gift certificates against shipping charges.

Gift Certificates and Electronic Coupons

In ProductCart v4 and above, customers can use an electronic coupon (discount code) and a Gift Certificate at the same time. This was not supported in previous versions of ProductCart.

After the Order is Placed

When the order is placed, the Gift Certificate's details are updated accordingly. The amount used is deducted from the balance. Gift Certificate details are added to all order-related pages, both in the Control Panel and in the storefront, as well as all e-mail messages sent when the order is processed.

For example, here is the customer's order details page. Note the Gift Certificate information located at the bottom of the page.

Checking a Gift Certificate's balance in the storefront

ProductCart version 3.51 and above contain a new feature that allows customers to quickly find out the balance left on an existing Gift Certificate. The feature is available on the customer account home page (pc/custpref.asp). The feature is only visible if the store has active, purchased Gift Certificates.


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QR Code Manage Gift Certificates (generated for current page)