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Weighing Competition Between Gift Card Manufacturers

In North America, the leading companies now established in gift card niches were largely drawn from the ranks of Plastic Card manufacturers, most of which began in the financial card arena, have gravitated to gift card products in reaction to the increasing competitiveness in thin margin financial cards. These companies often have most or all of the equipment needed for gift card manufacture – printing presses, laminators, optically register high precision die cutting systems, and often automated card inspection systems. However, the models of equipment they use are more or less adaptable to gift card manufacturing requirements base on how open their designs are.

Card manufacturers with non-modular designed card punching systems often have to start from scratch and acquire new die cutting systems better configured for gift card requirements. Similarly, automated card inspection systems that are unable to adapt to non CR80 card dimensions are not matched to popular gift card design requirements. The main disadvantage for financial card manufacturers or ID card manufacturers in their investment in the relatively expensive secure facilities and processes required for financial card production. That encumbers them with an overhead that smaller companies outside secure card niches do not have.

Familiarity with the interplay of inks and plastics is a strong competitive advantage. All companies that have well-established in-house expertise in plastics printing have strong potential to be successful in this market. This is especially true when one considers that the die cutting system needed to complement this capability only cost about $200,000. Training in operating these die cutting systems is relatively straightforward, usually completed in three days of initial system setups.

Printers that have the ability to provide turnkey solutions, both cards and packaging, Like Allstate Printing & Graphics have a distinct competitive advantage. The maturing gift card market is spawning greater variety in gift card packaging designs, so those printing operations with the most versatile finishing departments have a competitive edge. Companies that have added laser die cutting systems to their repertoire are seemingly limitless in meeting retailers' need for unique gift card designs and packaging.