Gift Basket Business Idea

Starting a gift basket business

proactivity1 1/28/2007

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Business Summary:

Gift-basketing as a business is one of the hottest trends in entrepeneurship; recent annual sales in the USA topped $800 million and continue to grow. Gift baskets are sold year-round and for every occasion imaginable. You’ve heard of Birthday Gift Baskets, but did you know that Sympathy Gift Baskets are now a best-selling item? And there are even Divorce Gift Baskets on the market!

Potential gift basket customers are everywhere. Studies show the mid-to-upper income baby boomer female is the classic retail customer, and she will annually buy gift baskets for a wide range of recipients: family members, friends, and business associates. Schools, business and corporate clients are also bread and butter to most gift basket businesses. Any organization who wants to thank or award their employees, woo or wow current and potential customers, is a great candidate for gift basket business, and even more important, repeat business!

Advantages of starting a gift basket business are that you can begin part-time, your startup costs are relatively low, and if you love to craft, decorate, and have a knack for doing up projects with themes, you’ll be in hog-heaven while at work on your creations. If you’re an outgoing person who loves people, the gift basket business will be even more fun for you as you market your baskets to new customers.

Start Up Cost: $2,000 – $10,000

Can Be Home Based?: Yes

Can Be Operated Part Time?: Yes

Skills Required:

We Know You’re Creative, but Can You Create Success in Business?

If you are considering gift baskets as a business, you are probably creative, great at crafts and artistic projects, and have been delighting friends and family with beautifully-packaged container gifts for awhile. But, you should know that taking your design flair into the business realm requires developing a whole other side of your personality. You will need to be organized at an unbelievably high level. Shopping for gift items, storing gift basket supplies and inventory, and maintaining a functional workspace is a major challenge in a gift basket business. Gift basket sales are highly seasonal, so you will need to be able to implement yearly marketing, advertising and promotion campaigns that are continually changing. As in any business, attention to purchasing decisions, expense accounting, and customer payment and invoicing must be kept up with, along with a host of other business-side tasks and details. In short, you need to have or develop a “head for the gift basket business.” On it, expect to wear your creative, artistic cap no more than 50 percent of the time and have your organizational, marketing and accounting hat on for the other 50 percent.

Prepare to Patiently Persevere

Molding yourself into a smoothly-functioning, thriving gift basket business owner-operator may take some time and require a new level of effort. Gift basket business mentors most often list patience and perseverance as the key personal traits of a successful gift basket entrepreneur. Finding your way to selling the right gift baskets to the right niches of customers can be done, IF you persevere with patience.

How Much Can You Earn:

Your potential revenues will vary, based on many factors, including whether your gift basket business is part-time or full-time, how well you can conceptualize gift basket products and services that will sell in your market, and how effectively you market your services to satisfied customers who refer your service to others and give you repeat business.

Gift Basket Industry Statistics

Whether categorized as home-based or small business, a well-run gift basket business can bring in a healthy income. Part-time gift basketeers frequently garner revenues of $10,000 or more annually from home, with gift basket enterprises operating full time tallying up considerably more. A survey conducted for Gift Basket Review magazine revealed that 72 percent of respondents reported at least $50,000 in annual gross sales, while 27 percent reported annual revenues in excess of $200,000. The same survey found that gift basket business profits are, on average, 22 percent of sales.

More sources of gift basket industry revenue and profitability statistics can be found in gift and specialty food industry trade publications such as Gifts and Decorative Accessories magazine and Gourmet News magazine. The NASFT (National Association of Specialty Food Trade) Buyers’ Survey also publishes results of a variety of yearly surveys sent to owners of storefront gift and gourmet shops and home-based gift basket businesses, ranging from individual operations to small businesses employing under nine staff members.

Understanding Customers:

Women Drive Sales, and Especially Gift Basket Sales

For years, studies have been showing that, in over 90 percent of all product categories, women do most of the shopping and make the lion’s share of all purchasing decisions. When it comes to gifts and gift-basket purchases, women are usually the ones who will select the gift baskets for both personal and business giving. Men love gift baskets, especially the ones with food, but a woman will most likely be purchasing it for him. You may find an exception to this rule as you market to larger business and corporate environments. There, you may be presenting your gift basket solutions for business gifts to men as well as women. Male decision-makers will appreciate the simplicity of selecting gifts that can be tailored to any price level and a variety of purposes. When you gain the corporate decision-maker’s confidence, they will have no problem in turning over future repeat business to you, letting you select their gift-basket purchases at your discretion.

Gift Basket Appeal is Universal, but Trends Can Be Local

Gift basket buying trends may differ somewhat in various parts of the country as well as in local areas. A good way to ascertain what customers are buying in your area is to check out the websites of your competition. A gift basket competitor worth its salt will feature their best-selling baskets on their sites. You may decide to follow suit and market the locally best-selling gift baskets, or research another type of niche customer not presently covered in your area. The most successful home-based gift basket entrepreneurs built their businesses on identifying niche customers. Understanding social and business patterns in your home area will help pinpoint the best customers on which to focus your initial offerings and marketing.

Marketing Strategy:

Cover the Basics, Choose Cost-Effective Methods, Stay Flexible

When announcing and promoting your new gift basket business to the community, cover the tried-and-true basics first. Don’t go all-out on expensive strategies that may not work or materials that can become obsolete as your business changes. Seek the simplest and most cost-effective marketing strategies when starting out.

Business Cards, Your Best Jump-Start Tool

Every new business needs business cards. Gift basket business owners will need thousands! Since almost everybody you come in contact with on a daily basis is a potential gift-basket customer, an attractive business card can start getting your business name out there immediately. A business card can be the basis for an impromptu sales contact in the grocery store, and truth-be-told, for most formal marketing calls a business card and your gift basket photo portfolio is all you need to make your pitch.

Today, you can make a quick batch of business cards using your home computer; however, for the quantities you will need, it’s recommended to use one of the internet business card websites. The prices are cheap and many sites make it easy to create your own designs, using your images and gift basket photos.

Your gift basket business startup is going be a process of trial and error, changes and readjustments. Fortunately, with today’s do-it-yourself technology, changing your business card copy and graphics is no longer a big deal. For example, you may decide to add a business phone instead of using your home phone, or you just came up with a new gift basket design that would be stunning on your business card. With internet business card prices for even glossy, photocolored cards running about $25 for 500 cards, the ability to change copy and insert new photos makes ordering new and improved versions of your card easy and affordable. Also, many gift basket business advisors recommend designing several versions of your card, each featuring different baskets and targeted to different markets.

Your Gift Basket Gallery – A Web Site is a Must

If you truly intend to have a gift basket business, rather than a gift basket hobby, you’ve got to have a professional website, even if it is very simple. Although many startup gift basketeers think they don’t need a website because they will be selling locally and won’t be taking orders over the internet, getting a good-looking website up is an investment that will not only pay off, but for gift basket businesses, is a must-have, basic marketing tool. Why? Because the gift basket business is based on visual appeal. To get your business up and running, it will be crucial to show in pictures that you create unique gift baskets that are several cuts above those seen on supermarket shelves.

Your website doesn’t have to be elaborate or expensive, it can be a straightforward array of photos of your best and most recent designs. Having a website photo gallery is the best way to showcase your talents. Customers can see the quality design of your selection of baskets and the various basket contents and they can select a model that will fit their current gift need, plus they may get ideas for future orders. Your website should promote your professional image and function as a versatile marketing tool; with a website containing a photo slide show of your gift baskets, you can use your laptop computer to make presentations to prospective clients. For website idea starters, take a look at the websites of the bigger gift basket companies as well as those of your local competitors.

Make Presentations With Your Photo Portfolio

A handsome photo scrapbook, similar to those used by wedding planners for cakes and flowers, will be a basic marketing staple that you have with you at all times along with your business card. Your portfolio will come into play constantly as people ask to see your work; you will use it for multiple presentations and multiple purposes and you have to keep it current.

To do your photos at home, you will first need to allocate a space for making photos of your gift baskets. Setting up a simple photo studio in a corner of your home is not difficult; space requirements are minimal, just prepare a table to set your gift basket designs on and hang a backdrop behind it if needed. To get the best and clearest shots, set up a tripod with your digital camera. Then, each time you create a new gift basket design, shoot it and print it for your portfolio (and your website).

In a pinch, one new gift basket business owner without a digital camera and photo software at home made a deal with a local mall portrait studio in which she bartered gift baskets for photos. She regularly took her baskets to the mall studio to make portfolio photos as well as photo CDs to use for her website. In turn, she paid her bill with gift baskets, leaving a sample on display at the studio at all times.

Letters, Calls, Appointments

Using a personal touch is always best way to do business marketing. The gift basket business is especially personal since it involves specialized gifts. Do a personal letter to the contact, followed by a phone call asking for a face- to-face appointment. If the prospect is a prime candidate for good repeat business, take along a sample gift basket to leave for their enjoyment.


Home Office Equipment

It should go without saying that to start a business, you’ll need a computer with the usual office software set, internet access, and a printer-scanner-copier. For a gift basket business, a digital camera is also a must, with photo software and printing capabilities for the portfolio and website photos of your gift basket creations.

Business and Food Licensing, Regulations

Food items are an essential part of gift baskets. Although some gift-basketeers have begun business without including food baskets in their initial product line, the fact remains that the universal, hands-down best-selling gift baskets all contain foods. You will need to become aware of federal, state and local business licensing requirements and regulations with regard to storing and selling food items. In many states, a liquor license is required if you want to put a festive bottle of champagne in your Congratulations Gift Basket, or offer a Wine and Gourmet Snack Basket. You will also need to obtain an easy-to-get resale license so you can purchase gift items and supplies at wholesale prices.

Baskets, Bows and Cellophane

If you’re considering making gift baskets as a business, you are likely already to be an avid hobby crafter with some of the basic gift-basket equipment and supplies in hand. There’ll be a lot of other things to purchase and you will want to get them at the best prices in order to mark them up in your final gift basket product. Research online websites that sell specifically to the gift basket industry; you’ll get great ideas from their sites and be able to buy staple items in bulk for much less than shopping locally. Fundamental gift basket equipment items such as shrink-wrap machines, hot glue gun assortments, and other tools of the trade will be featured on these sites, along with articles on the startup “must haves” and the added things you will need as your gift basket business expands and grows.

Inventory storage becomes a critical issue and can cause big problems for fledgling gift basket business owners. Depending on what types of baskets you plan to include in your starting product lineup, you will need to develop a yearly purchasing plan to make sure you have enough of the basics available and not too many of the specialized or seasonal items.

Work Space and Inventory Storage

A corner of your guest bedroom and your gift wrapping closet – will they suffice? In a word, no. In three words, not even close. Efficient work and storage space for gift basket business owners-–even those starting small-is so critical that whole books and video courses are available on how to do them right. Some gift basket gurus have described beginning within the confines of an apartment, but make clear that, as their business grew, they had to obtain larger spaces. Many business owners have found a spare room workable, others have commandeered a basement or a garage, outfitting them to make a functional workspace and storage facility. Temperature control is always a consideration, since many basket items do not fare well stored in extreme cold or heat. Many successful business owners have eventually rented workspace and storage rooms to accommodate their burgeoning supplies and inventory.

Before completely revamping the workspace you already have, be sure to look at tips provided on gift basket websites, and consider purchasing some of the excellent video and print materials that demonstrate innovative, cost-effective solutions to gift basket studio, inventory and storage needs.

Resource Partners: Family, Friends, Web Stores and Professionals

You may begin as a one-man show, but as your business takes off, suppose you suddenly get an order for 100 gift baskets for convention attendees? In the event of a last-minute or large order, you want to be ready. Before you get in a crunch that may result in a poor business image, get your resource partners in place to allow you flexibility.

Recruit family members and friends to take some routine tasks off your hands so you can keep the overall business moving. Teenagers can be trained to do deliveries, your sister may be able to handle your accounting and bookkeeping tasks, friends may be enlisted to scour craft malls regularly for gift and decorative items, and a helper can be drafted to answer your phone while you are working or out making marketing calls. Set up online accounts at web stores that carry things you require on a regular basis; do ordering at your non-peak times and receive your products at home.

There are some areas of your business that are probably best handled by professionals, your web site and advertising/promotional materials for example. Many local professionals are hungry for work and will do an expert job for you at very reasonable costs. Take time to look for these folk in advance, review their work and check references to find ones best suited to your gift basket business. Many gift basket web sites offer web design advice and services, as well as ad packages tailored to the home-based or small gift basket entrepreneur. Check out other gift basket web sites and look at competitors’ ad materials before deciding on your own.

Resource Urls

  •   Called the “definitive website” on the gift basket business, this site contains information on how to start, run, grow, and add profit centers to your gift basket business. Gift basket icon and solo-marketing mentor Shirley George Frazier shares from her years of expertise and success. A treasure trove of free information is at your fingertips covering the whole gift basket universe. Also offered are Shirley’s books and video instruction courses for sale, links to gift basket supplier and vendor sites, etc. A “must book-mark.”
  •  Rave Reviews! Magazine “The Pre-eminent Source for Gourmet & Gift Basket Ideas” sponsors an online forum frequented by gift basket entrepeneurs and small business owners in the trade. Cherie Reagor, long-time gift basket business maven, hosts the archived-by-topic discussion site, full of the most-asked questions about All Things Gift-Basket-Business related. Registration to the forum is free; you can review gift and gourmet food basket business topics from all previous forum discussions, plus post your own queries to Ms. Reagor and her forum pals.
  •  This site has good information columns and tips for all home-based and solo businesses. A lot of free data is in the site regularly; offered for sale are books, reports, and business plan templates for hundreds of businesses, including a gift basket business.
  •  Part of Shirley George Frazier’s family of websites offering a wide range of gift basket supplies at wholesale prices.
  •  Rita Wilhelm’s Gift Basket Connectory – fee membership site offering tips on operating gift basket businesses from home.
  •  Sherry Miller, successful gift basket business entrepreneur, has turned to teaching others how to do it. "The Insider’s Guide To Creating A Successful Gift Basket Business” may be full of value for you.

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