As a result of today’s struggling economy, the retail industry is currently undergoing a massive transformation driven by digital technology innovations that are fundamentally changing the way retailers interact with consumers. This shift is forcing retailers to rethink and transform their approach to how they do business going forward. To this end, most retailers offer gift cards, online discount codes and other reward programs to encourage shoppers to purchase.

So, exactly what rewards convert a shopper/browser into a paying customer or subscriber these days? A recent shopper reward preferences study conducted by Parago, a company who provides end-to-end engagement management programs to top companies around the world, attempted to answer this question. They surveyed over 1,400 consumers to see exactly what rewards influence their purchasing decisions. The results were surprising given today’s shoppers’ propensity for “showrooming”, which refers to consumers using mobile devices to shop online and compare products while being physically present in a brick-and-mortar store.

The research showed that across all industries more than half of shoppers still prefer prepaid cards over retailer-specific gift cards like Target, Walmart and Home Depot. Another key finding was that 2 out of 3 shoppers prefer tangible plastic cards to digital rewards codes at online-only retailers like Amazon and iTunes.

The main takeaway from the study is that consumers view prepaid cards like cash. Also, prepaid cards, like those from Visa, Mastercard and American Express, allow consumers to spend their extra  “cash” anywhere those forms of payment are accepted versus being forced to shop at one retailer.


Boris, Cynthia. “Which Would You Rather Have? A $250 Discount or a $200 Gift Card?”. 10/1/2013.

Wabler, Theresa.“2013 Shopper Reward Preference Study: People Prefer Prepaid”