New gift voucher system – buy or build?


If you’re thinking about selling gift vouchers, your first challenge is to investigate the best way forward. There are options ranging from pre-printing codes on paper vouchers to a digital solution where customers can buy online. Here we look into whether it might be better to subscribe to a gift voucher system or have your own software developed.

Starting off with an entirely manual process isn’t a great idea for a multitude of reasons. (Poor security, requires staff to deal with orders, difficulties in tracking and managing redemptions, voucher printing costs etc.)

Your web developer may offer to create an online shop for you. This sounds promising, but is it the best way forward if they don’t have expertise in writing software to sell and manage gift vouchers?

Is it better to install a specially-designed system like One Tree, which is ready use immediately, try to shoe-horn your needs into a standard online shop, or have bespoke software built?

Which route will you take?

Bespoke Development


The first consideration is, ‘When do I need this by?’ If you are planning a re-vamp of your whole IT system, you may have factored in several months to achieve your goals. In that case, building a bespoke system is feasible. In addition, you may feel that you have found a software house with the right expertise.


Software or web development is never cheap. Developers can charge upwards of £400 per day. If the project is under-specified or over-promised you can blow the budget before you know it. Developers may also be keen to take on the project, but then subcontract the work which takes development further out of your control. A clearly written specification will help to prevent any disappointments on delivery!


The first job is to produce a thorough business requirements document. A systems analyst then translates your needs into a technical spec to make sure you get what you want. Not only do you need to manage the development process, but you must also be confident you can identify all of your requirements.

Technology doesn’t stand still – the rate of change is sometimes quite frightening. You’ll need to factor in regular software maintenance costs to keep your gift voucher system current.

For a large organisation with specialist needs, bespoke systems may work. A ready-to-use subscription service may deliver over 90% of what you need for the same cost, however, and can sometimes be modified to meet additional needs.

Gift Voucher System

Much more than an online shop

Beyond the voucher shop on your website, the One Tree Gift Voucher System provides you with comprehensive tracking and reporting of every voucher. With access to the secure management portal you’ll know in real time whether a voucher is valid, redeemed or expired. There’s no chance that a voucher can be used twice after it has expired. Comprehensive reporting is also available, keeping accountants and managers happy.

All email voucher purchases go out automatically and we handle all the postal vouchers on your behalf. With around 70% of customers choosing an email delivery option or paying for postal delivery, all bases are covered. You’ll have no increase in staff costs to deal with sending out vouchers at busy times, such as during the Christmas rush.

We provide free, personalised training for you and your staff on set up and afterwards. If you or your customers have any queries at any point, we are on hand with phone and email support.

Finally, we eat, drink and breathe vouchers (unlike your web developer!) and provide you with regular hints, tips and resources to help you grow your gift voucher business.

Online shop designed for gift vouchers

The One Tree online shop has been especially designed to handle gift vouchers. This means that you can add gift experiences as well as monetary values, which you may not be able to do with a simple online ordering product such as PayPal. Offering gift experiences means that you can package popular services which gift buyers will find very attractive. The shop is easily installed on your website and branded to match.

Low cost and low risk

One of the main advantages of subscribing to a system like One Tree is that it requires minimal capital outlay and therefore represents a lower business risk to you.

We don’t charge a set up fee

Set up includes:

  • Customised voucher designs
  • Writing copy
  • Advising you on which gifts are likely to sell
  • Helping you with all aspects of the installation

…. and it’s all free.

Admittedly, there is a on-going subscription, but this is charged as a low commission rate on revenue, so you’ll only pay when sales are made. Non-redemption rates generally far outweigh the operating costs. Because we operate on commission only basis, we’re also motivated to work in partnership with you to increase sales.

Speed of Installation

An off-the-shelf package is just that – prepared and ready to go. You’ll have to invest some time in liaising with us on the customisation and get everything up and running, but this pales into insignificance compared to the time and financial investment needed for writing the spec and maintaining your own software.

Installation and training will take up some of your time, but you’ll be looking at hours, rather than months. If a business need for gift vouchers has been identified, the quicker you can address it, the sooner you’ll generate new revenue and save staff time.

Industry Expertise

Our software is developed to work in different scenarios, on different devices and is tested across the board.

Focusing on our products, following all the latest trends and issuing new releases of the software is what we do – month in, month out. Bespoke software requires you keeping track of changing requirements and requesting upgrades as needed.

We also welcome feedback from our clients and can implement changes where requested.

Naturally, everything has a downside. An off-the-shelf package may not deliver 100% of your requirements and you may decide that the bespoke route is the best option for your organisation.

Author :

Louise has spent her marketing career working on software products and systems that help companies make more money with less effort. She is an expert in gift voucher marketing and loves sharing that knowledge with clients in the hospitality industry.