I have an account on a third-party website that sells discounted (first hand) gift cards — because my employer is part of the scheme.
For example, you pay ¤95 for a ¤100 gift-card, in the case of a mainstream supermarkets. There is also this top-up system, so basically, you can add as much money on your gift-card — it then become like a pre-paid card (except it's shop-specific).
For supermarkets, discount varies from 4% to up to 8%. This seems to be higher than the margin of this industry.
I have come with a few explanations, but I'm not sure which/whether they are correct:
- The discount is covered by my employer, because it sponsors the scheme,
- The gift-card company makes money by investing the moneys in the time between when I buy the card, and when I pay with it,
- The supermarket offers the discount to the gift-card company, because:
- it enables to write earnings earlier than the actual sell (but does this works with accrual accounting?),
- it generates cash before the sell, so there is no need to borrow money to buy stock,
- it will receive ¤95 anyway, and expect people to lose/forget about their card, so the claimed gift-card amount is lower than ¤95,
- it offsets the cost of "acquiring a customer"…
My question is then:
What is the business model behind such gift cards?
Note: In this question, I am not talking about second-hand gift card platform, where people sell ¤80 a ¤100 gift-card of a specific shop, because they have no intention to ever buy in that shop, so prefer cash instead.