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Yelp Offers Local Merchants Gift Certificate Option

Yelp, a leading local review site has added to their offering for local businesses by allowing business owners to offer gift certificates through the site. Now in addition to promoting offers small, local players can give a full cash equivalent gift certificate option to customers.

The Yelp blog states:

Businesses are now able to sell gift certificates direct to consumers through their Yelp business profile page. Gift certificates are not discounted like Deals are. They’re full-value cash equivalents. For example: I buy you a $100 gift certificate to the hottest restaurant in town (for your 40th birthday, poor thing), it costs me $100 (and is worth every cent), and is valid for $100 worth of drink and food (in that order) at said eatery. Easy, right?

Yelp did some extensive testing of this service and determined that it was a good way to go considering the many shortcomings of the deals model that businesses have experienced over time. The post shared some of the learnings they picked up along the way.

  • When giving gifts, some were reluctant to give a discounted product, like deals.
  • Some deals are priced too low to cover the cost of a full meal or service (example: a $20 for $40 deal doesn’t cover the cost of a 90 minute facial at your favorite day spa).
  • Deals are a great way to present a new customer with a reason to try your business.
  • Gift certificates are helpful for turning your existing customers into some of your best promoters.

Are you likely to use this option to give gifts in te future. It could come in handy for gifts for people in other places. If their favorite restaurant is offering this option you could help someone enjoy their favorite spot in their hometown even more. Tying it into one of the most recognized local review services seems to make good sense.

So what do you think? Interested? Could care less? Somewhere in between?