Using a gift card in safe environments

Do you need help finding the perfect gift for someone who “already has everything” for Christmas? Or for their birthday, for that matter? Or are you in need of a good gift idea, no matter the occasion? If so, a gift card might be the perfect solution. Oslo City has installed two Gift Card Kiosks from Microlog, where you can buy gifts card that can be used on all shopping centers owned by Steen & Strøm.

Easy to find

– The automats can be found by the main entrance to the shopping center, next to Jernbanetorget, and are easy to find, says Center Manager Laila Sønstevold.

– The gift cards bought here are general gift cards, which can be used both here and at our other Steen og Strøm-owned shopping centers in the country, like Metro in Lørenskog, Gulskogen in Drammen or Maxi at Hamar.

The Gift Card Kiosks are both practical and easy to use. You type out the amount you want to give away and pay with card. You can also buy the gift card at Oslo City’s website. The link will take you to Microlog’s website, which gives you a code you can use when retrieving the gift card at the gift card automat.

– We used to have a customer information desk, where you could buy gift cards, while we also had Gift Card Kiosks. The benefits with this setup were the personal service, where you talked to a person on the other side of the counter. On the other side, the customer information desk did not have as long opening hours as Oslo City. The customer information desk was closed in 2019, and the space was given new tenants.

– How do customers find the Gift Card Kiosks?

– Most of them know where the main entrance for the shopping center is, and we have signs for gifts cards on the wall behind the two Gift Card Kiosks, informing customers about the different situations where gift cads can be used. We also have information on our website, under “Gift cards – the gift for everyone”. Additionally, information about the Gift Card Kiosks is also found on our digital screens around the shopping center, and every now and then we have commercials on posters by the display windows. We also send out information about gift cards in our newsletters and make customers aware of the opportunity on both Instagram and Facebook.

Easy, practical and flexible

– What upsides and downsides do you see with the Gift Card Kiosks?

– Gift Card Kiosks make shopping for gift cards easier and more available. You can shop whenever you want to and retrieve the gift card multiple places. It makes everything more flexible. It is a great gift idea if you are unsure of what to gift someone. The downside is naturally that the personal touch is gone. Steen & Strøm has a service agreement with Microlog, which entails that all our customers can get help with their questions, purchase in Gift Card Kiosks or online.

Ideal location for meeting people

Because of the pandemic and its aftermath, it is not possible to give any representative number on the turnover for gift cards this year, Laila continues.

– But we can look at it from a more general perspective. Many thought that online shopping would take over for good after the pandemic, as we saw a substantial growth in this area while the country was on lockdown. However, our numbers does not show that. It is incredibly uplifting and gives a clear signal about how it is possible to bounce back. Another reason that might be just as important is how a shopping center is more than somewhere to go shopping, it is also a meeting place. People are longing to meet again, be together and physically see each other. We have a need to be close to each other again and share experiences. Therefore we think that our shopping center, which is very central, will continue to be an important meeting place in the future as well.

Our statistics from October shows that we had a great month. The number of visitors was far above the 2020 numbers, something that makes sense considering the lockdown. It also shows that we were just below the 2019 numbers, while the turnover was above, and that is after all what both we want the tenants live off.

The power of the media

The influence by the media is powerful. If the big media outlets are writing that the infection rates are going up, you will see less people out shopping. Laila elaborates:

– What the media writes has a direct consequence for us. And we see a noticeable domino effect. Increased infection rates mean less use of trains and other forms of public transportation, and the further away from Oslo Central Station you live, the fewer people are coming to the shopping centers. I am very understanding of the fact that people are anxious. But we have learned a lot from these times. Oslo City was quick to implement additional resources for cleaning and made new routines that we are still following. The focus on good hygiene is something we have brought with us, we have additional cleaning of all surfaces, buttons and so on, in addition to the hand sanitizer that is strategically located all over the shopping center. The benefit with Oslo City’s new Gift Card Kiosks is that customers who want to retrieve gift card bought online do not have to touch the buttons by the Gift Card Kiosks. It works just as well to scan the QR-code located on the gift card. We want customers to be safe when visiting us, an optimistic Center Manager concludes.

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