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Kona Grill personalizes gift cards via mobile

American grill and sushi bar Kona Grill has revamped its gift card platform with a mobile component as holiday sales begin to ramp up.

To promote the new gift cards, Kona is giving buyers a $20 bonus for every $100 they spend on gift cards. Kona partnered with digital gifting company CashStar to power the program.

“According to the Retail Gift Card Association’s ‘Holiday Gift Card Trend Tracker’ survey, 57 percent of respondents plan on giving a restaurant gift card this year and 64 percent chose restaurant gift cards as their most coveted, the most of any category,” said Ben Kaplan, CEO/president of CashStar, Portland, Maine.

“Recognizing this, savvy restaurants are using CashStar’s digital gifting platform as a key element in their holiday marketing strategies,” he said. “As consumers become increasingly digital, they expect their favorite brands and restaurants to offer gifting options that are convenient to their shopping style.

“Kona Grill is working with us to power their plastic, digital and mobile gifting programs, and by doing so will deepen relationships with these increasingly tech-savvy shoppers while opening up new revenue channels.”

Kona cards
Kona Grill now offers both physical and digital gift card options for its consumers.

Consumers can easily buy egift cards via Kona’s mobile-optimized site. They can pick from 10 different designs and even add their own photo.

The gift cards can be delivered via email to the recipient, or the buyer can print the egift card to hand deliver. The buyer can also choose to have the gift card sent by snail mail.

Consumers can place any value between $5-$500 on the cards.

Recipients with an iPhone or iPod touch that has iOS 6 or 7 also have the option of adding the gift card to Passbook.

Kona enables Passbook integration

Mobile gifting
While many retailers and restaurants are lacking in the mobile gift card space, Kona is smart for making the switch.

According to a September report from RSR Research, most retailers do not offer any mobile integration for gift cards (see story).

However, consumers are increasingly expecting more from gift cards, especially when it comes to mobile.

There are a few other examples of marketers that have been trying to meet this demand.

For example, Coffeehouse chain Caribou Coffee recently launched a new egift card program enabling customers to purchase and send personalized digital gift cards from mobile and desktop (see story).

Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts have also been in the space for a while now.

With consumers becoming more and more attached to their phones, it only makes sense that restaurants such as Kona enable mobile gifting.

“Year-over-year we’ve seen an exponential increase in the number of purchasers and recipients using our mobile gifting options to send and receive gifts for the holidays,” Mr. Kaplan said. “Not having a mobile platform at this stage in the game could mean a major loss of revenue and more importantly, and could be detrimental to the customer relationship.

“Kona Grill understands that its customers are mobile and offering them the ability to send and receive gifts all from their favorite device will only increase brand loyalty for the restaurant,” he said.

Final Take
Rebecca Borison is editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York