Category Archives: Technology


Review of @CardCash, an Online Marketplace for Buying and Selling #GiftCards

CardCash ( is an online broker that buys and sells gift cards. With gift cards being a massive business that’s becoming more popular as a gift idea, it’s almost certain that everyone will get at least one gift card this year for a merchant that they do not normally buy from.

CardCash aims to create a more liquid marketplace for these gift cards. Sellers can get a quote for their card online, which CardCard purchases at a discount from the original price. Buyers can purchase gift cards, for a lower discount, but still pay less than the redemption value of the card. In this way CardCash offers careful shoppers the ability to save money on purchases made with discounted gift cards.

After reading about CardCash in NJBiz, I decided to give the service a try. On a Tuesday, I went on the website and got a quote for a $200 gift card. After selecting the merchant, entering the numbers on the card and the current value of the card, I received an immediate offer of $150, 25% of face value. I accepted the offer, printed out the confirmation form, and mailed both to CardCash. CardCash provides a few options for receiving payment on the card, and I selected direct deposit into a bank account. Within a few days, I received a notification from CardCash that the card had been received and confirming that I would receiving payment shortly. By Monday, the money had been deposited in my account. Everything worked quickly and as promised.

The following day, I checked the CardCash site and saw a gift card for the same amount and merchant for sale for $184, or an 8% discount off face value. A couple of days later, it looks like that card had been sold.

The selection of cards available for sale is excellent and there is a wide selection of merchants, from high-end retailers, to supermarkets. I have not purchased a card from CardCash yet, but if the response time is as quick as on the sale side, it should be simple to plan that weekend’s shopping with a quick visit to the CardCash site earlier in the week.

On the downside, the website design is somewhat dated and won’t do much to comfort anyone who’s not convinced about buying and selling cards online. It looks more like a 90’s shopping cart template rather than a cutting-edge consumer site. There are a few parts of the sale process that are a bit confusing, such as selecting the merchant initially. At the end of the process, the confirmation page after the sale and the confirmation email that is received aren’t quite the same, which may also cause some confusion. These are all minor issuse that should be easily corrected as the process matures.

From a business standpoint, CardCash needs to scale quickly and create a very liquid marketplace, so that cards can be received and then re-sold as quickly as possible. If my experience is typical, their gross margin is 18.5%. This is good if they don’t have any inventory on-hand, but not much extra room if lots of cards linger around unsold.

Over time, if CardCash can build up a loyal base of buyers, who want to be notified when a merchant’s cards are available, that should help CardCard to stay very liquid and increase their margins.

Overall, CardCard offers tremendous value to anyone who has gift cards to sell. The process is quick and straightfoward and payments are made quickly. For smart shoppers, especially those who are loyal to specific stores, there is the added value of purchasing gift cards at a discount to realize good savings when shopping. Where else can you get a quick 10% or more on your money these days?

Visit CardCash at and on Twitter @CardCash.

Why the Windows brand is killing Microsoft

When Microsoft released Windows Phone and Windows 8, they managed to finally change the discussion about how an operating system should look and feel. For the first time since Steve Jobs stood on stage and put a dent in the universe with the original iPhone, the classic row of icons and rounded corners paradigm of design was finally starting to feel old and dated.

Designers and IT pro alike were fascinated. Had Microsoft finally found a real voice in its design? Could Microsoft become the cool company again? Had they out-Appled Apple?

Sales have been lousy. The press has completely turned against the products. Consumers and businesses very quickly developed a very negative and usually unreasonable opinion about it, even before Windows 8 was offered for sale.

It wasn’t the technology, nor the design. It was the brand. Microsoft hurt itself very badly by taking something truly new and innovative, interesting and game-changing and sticking it with the name “Windows”.

Somewhere along the line, the powers-that-be in Redmond decided that Windows is a beloved and highly-respected brand. Most consumers don’t think of Windows at all, except maybe as that thing that crashes their computer at work. Even when buying hardware, people more likely ask about which “PC” to buy, or look at Dell, HP or Lenovo. Most consumers care more about having Microsoft Office (the more powerful brand, really), than Windows. It’s like if auto companies tried to market their products based on someone’s engine under the hood.

Windows’ domination of PC world dates back at at least 1992 (when Windows 3.1 was released). This brand name, very strongly associated with PCs and servers for over a decade, has been a cornerstone of the computer revolution. While it has made Microsoft the powerhouse that it is, it also carries a ton of baggage, as well as lots of expectations – positive and negative – with consumers, businesses and IT professionals.

So, when Microsoft brought Windows Phone and Windows 8 to the world, and tagged them with an old, established brand name, they lost the opportunity to put into people’s mind something really new and amazing. Oh, it’s Windows, I know all about that.

What Microsoft should have done is created something new: Surface OS, Modern OS, even Win OS, and presented it to the world as Microsoft’s effort to revolutionize computing. By breaking with the past, they could have started to reach the mobile audience in a new way and show that they were leapfrogging Google and Apple. Then, once that had started to make inroads, start to bring that new look and feel to Windows (Windows 8, powered by Surface OS). When the OS starts up, it should have said, “would you like to try Surface OS?” Eventually, as the market trends revealed themselves, they could have integrated more and more. The new product could have stood side-by-side Windows as another billion-dollar line.

Instead of trying to abruptly change a brand’s reputation by forcing it down users’ throats, there should have been establishment of a new brand, introduced to the world in an exciting and different way. Early adapters and taste makers could have been courted, all of the beta issues and bugs worked out, and then the rest of world brought along. It would have taken longer, and far more successful for everyone involved.