In March 2020, we thought for sure we’d be celebrating our 7th Jigsaw birthday in September together as a team. Now that we’re fast-approaching March 2022, we’re feeling very grateful to have had one fantastic celebration back in November to mark two missed Christmas parties, and two missed Jigsaw birthdays.
We drank champagne to celebrate our achievements and reflected on how much we’ve grown as a business, a team and as individuals over the last 2 years. We all hoped 2021 to bring back life as we knew it. When it kind of did, and then it didn’t, we were left feeling a bit uneasy. The start of a new year is a time to consider what good came of the year before, and yet another year of ambiguity, so here goes.
- That taboo word: Vulnerability
We’re often advised to steer away from using the word “vulnerability” in business and leadership. The truth is I’m not sure Jigsaw would be what it is without us all, many times holding our hands up and saying “I’ve not done this before, how should we do it?”. While there are times we’ve had to remain positive and resilient for the team, there’s little point in faking it when the world has been thrown into chaos. We tried things, we sometimes failed, we learned and collaborated to help us do better next time. If business leaders pretend they know it all, and feel great all the time, it’s not real and relatable and can manifest a fear of failure. We’ve learned during the pandemic, more than ever before, to be authentic versions of ourselves in life and in work.
- Nowhere to hide…and no need!
We literally had no choice but to be ourselves at work in 2021. It was bring-your-life-to-work day, every day. Doorbells ringing, interruptions from the kids, deliveries galore and sometimes even pets and family members conspicuously crawling along the floor during our zoom calls. We got to really know each other by being open and everyone rallied to help when we were thin on the ground. We got to know our clients and partners and often their family and pets too – nothing like the woes of home schooling or puppy training to keep things real and bring people together. We worked with our clients and partners to figure out how to give customers what they want and needed, and we are together more creative and innovative for the experience.
- Innovation, innovation, innovation.
Retail has been hit hard during the pandemic. Retailers had to adapt quickly to meet consumer needs, and find new ways to drive revenue. Digital gift cards were one such way, allowing people to gift and thank others quickly and easily. Jigsaw was fortunate to be in the very business of launching digital gift cards and ecommerce solutions for retailers so we’ve been busy! We worked with our clients and partners to deliver projects that may not have made the priority list so soon – solutions to help lighten the load for customer service teams, to protect against fraud and to issue more gift cards, more quickly. We brought new brands to new markets and territories and developed our own processing capability. Our ability to be flexible and innovate delivered year on year growth for our clients and for Jigsaw.
The gift card market has been resilient, and continues to grow. In the UK, gift card revenue from consumer and corporate channels have been neck and neck for some time. During 2021, corporate spending on gift cards took the lead, as businesses needed to reward and incentivise customers and teams. Online consumer sales were also up year on year and most of our clients saw their best holiday season yet. Our prospective clients were back on the phone to talk about getting gift cards live and with all of this growth we welcomed new talent to the team. Growth in our industry has been fuelled in large part by consumers awareness and financial literacy. The relationship we have with money changed as the economy suffered.
- A Consumer Awakening
According to research by Experian, 6 in 10 Brits have become more aware of their finances since the start of the Coronavirus Pandemic. Consumers have become more engaged than ever with money-saving incentives like employee benefits and cashback offers. Gift cards are an excellent tool for making your money go further, and when retailers need customers, and customers need savings – the combination is win-win all round!
So, what learning can we take from 2021 into this new year? Be vulnerable, you’ll amazed what will happen. Be kind and build relationships with your teams, clients and business partners – we are all in this together. Keep innovating and growing, and remember that ‘growth and comfort do not co-exist’ (Ginny Rometty, CEO, IBM). If you want to grow, you have to get uncomfortable and we feel certain that everyone at Jigsaw has felt this more than once! Embrace change and challenge the status quo. It’s quite fun.