Punchbowl, the party planning site that expanded into digital greeting cards last year, is today announcing a series of new partnerships that will allow consumers to send out greeting cards with gift cards attached. The company first began offering Amazon gift cards in time for Mother’s Day 2012, but today’s expansion includes a dozen of new gift card brands such as Banana Republic, Old Navy, Athleta, Sephora, Gap, L.L. Bean, Land’s End, Travelocity, Aeropostale, Spa Week, and Wine Enthusiast.
According to Punchbowl founder and CEO, Matt Douglas, the brands were carefully selected to line up with Punchbowl’s core demographic – primarily women, and often young moms. He says the company plans to further expand the selection in the months ahead.
For those unfamiliar with Punchbowl’s product, the cards are all-digital, but are rendered to give the appearance of their paper counterpart, with an envelope and card that opens up like a real one does. The gift card inserts even look like the offline equivalent – a plastic card tucked into a holder within the greeting card itself. The gift credit can be immediately redeemed online or printed out upon receipt.
The new digital cards can also be scheduled by the sender, making them an easy option for holiday shopping without ruining the surprise.
While some greeting card competitors, like Apple’s iCards, Sincerely, or Red Stamp, for example, are working to connect our digital address books with postal mail, Punchbowl is betting on digital and has no plans to offer a physical card option in the near future. “There will be a place in the world for things like weddings and bar mitzvahs, and that’s fine.” says Douglas. “But what we’ve built is what we think is a very good alternative to the paper world, and we’ve made sure that we’ve maintained the integrity of what it’s like to receive a paper card.”
The digital cards are free to send, though users can always upgrade to premium Punchbowl memberships to unlock special features and select designs. These memberships also offer access to the pro Punchbowl party planning features as well.
While Douglas declined to offer specific metrics in terms of registered users or cards sent to date, he says that the card’s reception was better than expected, and “many millions” of cards have been sent. Punchbowl’s site traffic is also “on a tear,” he added, with over 50 million visits to the site this year. In 2013, the plan is to focus more on mobile and iOS development, he hinted. The company currently only offers an iOS native app for the party planning component of its service, not one for the digital cards.
The new greeting cards are live on Punchbowl.com now.