Gift cards for the B2B sector may be big business, but the complexity of managing a corporate incentive or other B2B gift card program can present some serious challenges to merchants without the in-house infrastructure to support it. With an eye toward easing these complications and giving merchants a streamlined way to run a B2B program, digital gift card solution provider CashStar launched Velocity B2B. The independent business unit within CashStar promises end-to-end program management for its clients, from big-picture strategy to detailed compliance and risk operations.
Incentive spoke with Tom Boucher, vice president of Velocity B2B, who prior to taking on this role had 13 years of retail gift card experience, most recently overseeing Best Buy's gift card program. He discussed plans for Velocity B2B and trends in the gift card sector more broadly.
First of all, what is it that Velocity B2B offers to the industry that had not been there before?
There are people out there that help companies run their B2B business, but what makes us unique is that we've created an end-to-end strategy for them. What I mean by that is that you can get people to help you with strategy or with sales. But we also offer program operations, payment operations, and a tool called CashStar Business that allows merchants to take in all their client's orders, payments and vetting, all wrapped up in one nice package.
It's really a one-stop shop, so instead of going to a provider and having them tell you that they can handle sales and strategy but not the vetting and set-up or order approval, we are able to do it all.
What inspired CashStar to launch this offering?
We built it based on feedback from current clients. They were telling the leadership, "you have this great tool in CashStar Business, which I can manage myself or have customers go in and manage themselves, but I also need someone to do sales and strategy." That's when CashStar gave me a call and said, "we've started to work on this strategy and would love you to come in." That first nine months, we talked to our clients about what they needed, asking how we should build their strategies, how to take this to market and do sales, who we would talk to and how we would talk to them. It was creating a lot of process flows and go-to-market ideas, then had our customers narrow those down to what they really needed.
How does Velocity B2B fit into the larger CashStar ecosystem?
We act like an agency model and do things on our own, but any enhancements we need to make to the CashStar Business tool, we have to work with the product team. If we newly onboard Sephora or Bed Bath and Beyond, we need the delivery teams to get that set up and tested and delivered, and meet with the legal team and finance team. We touch every aspect of CashStar, like any other product does.
More broadly, what issues or challenges are merchants seeing in the market and how is this changing, from your perspective?
The market's very complex, so we're working with many clients that represent many brands today and they don't understand the marketplace. If you aren't focused on B2B for 40 hours a week, it's hard to learn all that. People that we work with manage all aspects of the business: Retail, online, third-party, B2B and sales, so it's understandable that they don't understand the complete marketplace.
They also have limited tools and processes. We have big brand names out there that still take faxes or emails for order or payments over the phone. All of those things make security people cringe. We secure all that. We don't give an order out until we take payment, versus the companies where people order thousands of dollars of gift cards and ship them off just hoping someone pays for it.