Companies that focus on giving clients choices and keeping employees happy tend to have a better shot at making it in the business world. And if all continues to go well for World Gift Card, the company might do just that and expand its international name in the process.
WGC provides electronic gift, loyalty and specialty card program services to small and mid-sized merchants, associations, value-added resellers and government entities in the United States, Canada, Bermuda and Australia.
In addition to gift cards, WGC also provides processing, programming, database hosting and management, and plastic card printing.
WGC's vision is to be the world gift card. "Our focus is gift and loyalty, and we have the technical competence and flexibility to provide specialty applications, especially in vertical markets," WGC President Thom Aldredge said.
With talk of "technical competence" and "vertical markets" one might think WGC is made up of stuffed shirts – wrong. Aldredge and Doug Mauldin, WGC founder and Chief Executive Officer, strive to create a relaxed atmosphere at the company's headquarters in Plano, Texas.
Company events include fishing outings, pingpong tournaments and yearly brainstorming sessions. WGC rewards its five-member staff for working hard, giving incentive to continue their efforts. As evidence, the company has consistently averaged 30% annual revenue growth for its seven years in existence. Three cheers WGC credits its significant growth to three practices:
Mauldin founded WGC in 1999 as a wireless data provider. A year later, he switched the company to the gift card market. A start in wireless data gave the company valuable technology experience, a feature that Mauldin feels differentiates WGC from its competitors.
WGC is able to provide its merchants flexibility by giving them the luxury of having software created within the company. "There isn't a piece of software that we don't understand the inner workings of," Mauldin said. "If they [the merchants] already have a set of cards, or an extra prompt they need to collect at time of sale, those are easy things for us to do, as opposed to telling them, 'This is what you get and can't change it.'"
The company differs from most of the competition because it is not controlled by or aligned with a larger company, or ISO. Mauldin stressed this is important for ISOs and merchant level salespeople (MLSs). "We don't represent a risk to agents that we are going to try to get their credit card business," he said.
Just as WGC provides processor-independent solutions, it also doesn't require merchants to do anything other than process with the company. "WGC can provide a merchant with a full featured gift and loyalty card program at a reasonable price, with no strings attached," Mauldin said.
WGC also offers consulting to merchants, retailers or any business looking for guidance related to gift cards, such as the best way to use a gift card program. The programs are scalable to work with a variety of merchant types and sizes, including single location retailers, nationwide chains and e-commerce merchants.
If you or your merchant customers want something from a gift card program, or are curious if something special can be accomplished, WGC welcomes such queries.
Even though purchasers of gift cards can remain anonymous, especially when using cash, WGC takes cardholder and merchant security very seriously. The company has implemented measures to protect data but is not eager to share its preventative measures. Aldredge said when a company makes security solutions public, it tips hackers off and gives them a better chance of breaching it. But if hackers don't know the security process, their task is more difficult.
ISOs and MLSs are vital to WGC. Nearly all of its sales are through ISOs and MLSs, and it respects their knowledge and experience. "We rely heavily on the reseller to tell the merchant what he needs," Aldredge said. "They know the market way better than we do. They tell us what a merchant needs, and we will get it for them."
The company recently launched an online account setup for resellers. This means an ISO or MLS can fill out an online application and set up a merchant account – complete with identification number and download, immediately at the merchant’s location. WGC also helps agents close deals over the phone. "Once the reseller sends us the application and places the processing equipment, we take care of everything else," Aldredge said.
WGC allows its resellers to choose how they wish to work with the company. For instance, resellers can purchase the service and set their own pricing, selling it to their merchants and retaining the profit. In this case, the reseller handles all of the billing.
Agents who do not wish to handle billing can form an agreement where WGC provides all the necessary services, including fee collection. The agent then receives monthly residuals. "It depends on the sales agent if they want to take the lead in collecting payment," Aldredge said. "For many, we do all the billing, start to finish, account set up, production, etc."
WGC also provides its merchants and agents with a variety of online reports. Merchants can then use this data to create target marketing, or analyze what is working for their customers. "Our data is live," Aldredge said.
"Resellers can run a report at any second during the day and see any transaction, up to that second."
Mauldin and Aldredge believe their company's gift card and loyalty programs are unique because they are still relatively new. "They require more customer attentiveness and support because they haven't yet settled into sameness," Aldredge said.
Therefore, WGC believes that by establishing bonds early on with the end user, the relationship has the opportunity to endure. "The foundation and success of the business has been based on providing the best customer support possible," Aldredge said.
For Mauldin, it's about sticking to the company's core: "We do one thing and we do it well."
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1209 North Avenue, Suite 11
Plano, TX 75074
Web site: www.worldgiftcard.com