Gift baskets or gift hampers are fast gaining in popularity as gift options on holidays and other major occasions. More importantly, the idea has caught on with the corporate world as well and they have increasingly been used as token gifts at business meets, gifts for employees and so on.
This makes starting a gift basket business a lucrative idea, especially when it comes to small-scale business opportunities. In other words, business ventures that can often be managed from home by a single person or two (of course, there is always the opportunity to go big at later stages). Visit a local gift hamper supplier in your area for ideas, too!
In this article, we’ll talk about some basic steps you need to follow in order to get going with your gift basket business. Take note, however, that the following discussion is geared primarily towards small-scale, first-time entrepreneurs (such as home moms) who have no prior experience in running a business and who do not have a whole lot of capital to channel into the enterprise. Also, we aim to include ideas that will not only help put your business on rail but will also help to make it a profitable one in a relatively short time.
So, let’s get going!
1. Zero in on Your Niche
This is the first thing you’ll need to do—find a gift basket niche where you won’t have to wrestle with too many competitors. Take time to research your local market and find for yourself opportunities that come with best potentials to be lucrative. However, while determining a niche, it is also important to concentrate on your own passions, knowledge, and expertise. For example, if you possess quite a comprehensible knowledge of cosmetics products but not too much about foods and wines, it doesn’t make too much of a sense to choose ‘wine and food gift hampers’ as your niche. So, even if the competition is a bit stiffer on the cosmetics side, you can still make good of your knowledge and possibly get the better of your competitors by crafting out fresh and innovative ideas that will help you stand out among your competitors. So, for example, you can fashion unique ideas such as ‘morning freshness gift hamper’, ‘organic beauty gift basket’ and so on—in other words, ideas that will easily arrest the attention of your target audience.
2. Start with a Business Plan
Regardless of their scale or ambition, all new businesses must start out with a well-crafted business plan. This includes taking stock of your budget; doing proper market analysis; having a marketing plan for the first months of your business; making financial projections regarding sales, revenues, and profits during, say, the first year of your business.
A proper business plan is like a route map for your business. It gives you a clear idea of how to proceed with your venture once you set out on the journey; how to manage your expenses and cashflow; what to do when you need to expand. Also, it is important that you make room for contingencies and set aside a fund for that purpose.
3. Determine on a Sales Channel
Now, this is one of the most important decisions you’ll need to make—where and how to sell your products. For most startups with limited capital, a physical storefront is not a viable one. However, if you do manage to find a good place at a good location and at an easy rent (it will still require a sizeable investment), a physical store will do a world of good to your business. It will make for greater visibility and will give you a heads-up over your online competitors.
And of course, if that is not feasible, you can make all your sales exclusively through online channels. Here again, you can either build your own online store from scratch or choose a host platform like Shopify. In case of the former, you’ll have to shoulder the responsibility of packaging and shipping all your orders by yourself. That way, you’ll get to keep all your profits to yourself. However, we recommend that you choose an online store host at least during the first year of your business. Otherwise, you may start to feel overwhelmed with too many tasks on your hand.
4. Source Material Suppliers
You’ll need to choose various retailers and wholesalers for the products that will go into the baskets as well as for all the decorative items like tags, ribbons, bows, empty hampers and all the other craft items or tools. For this purpose, make use of online directories, attend local merchandise trade shows, and explore other avenues (such as buying handmade decorative items in bulk from home mom entrepreneurs from your local community, find a local gift hamper supplier, etc.) to get hold of all the requisite items for your gift baskets at the best prices possible.
5. Marketing Your Business
Presumably, as a small-scale business, you won’t have too much moolah to spend on marketing and promoting your business. And you don’t necessarily need to, either. Here, as elsewhere, the trick is to stay creative and look for cost-effective methods that will still perform a good job of promoting your business at least in your immediate vicinity.
First of all, leverage the power of social media and internet. Create a blog and share useful contents on a regular basis (gift basket ideas, how to decorate gift baskets); answer questions and actively engage in discussions around gift basket ideas at platforms like Quora and Reddit; use your Facebook profile and business page, Instagram, and Pinterest accounts to share new ideas, photos, links to your blog, etc. It will take some time, but through all these means, you’ll be able to establish your brand identity and make yourself visible in the online space.
Apart from the above, also make sure to use marketing means that don’t cost you a penny but can still be effective enough for small local businesses. For example, use Facebook Pixel, list your products with Google Shopping, use Pinterest pins. On the other hand, for offline marketing purposes, print flyers and distribute them at strategic locations. It is also a good idea to book a kiosk at local trade fairs and shows and hand out flyers, leaflets, booklets and if possible, some small complimentary items, to the visitors.
Basically, the idea is to get the word out, achieve visibility, and establish a brand identity and all of this without having to break your bank. Of course, you can go for more expensive means of marketing once you start to see profits and are in a position to expand.
And finally, don’t forget to register your business and obtain the necessary permits and licenses before you get going. You’ll also need to have a reliable accounting system in place. This is necessary for creating and sending invoices, generating sales reports and for keeping track of all your sales. For this purpose, we recommend that you use a reliable but not too expensive invoicing and accounting app such as FreshBooks.