How do you keep up with what customers want? These 10 ways to stay on top of the ever-changing gift basket landscape reveal how it’s done.

Vision is necessary

Starting your business takes lots of time and determination as another article reveals. Over time, like businesses in any industry, gift baskets experience its share of twists and turns to stay attractive and relative throughout the decades.

What was once a product only for the rich and one created with rationed foods during wars is now a phenomenon. It’s currently one of the top five gift giving choices worldwide. Gift baskets are in good company with gift cards, jewelry, and electronics (I’ll leave the final one for you to guess).

In another article, I warned how your gift basket business cannot stay the same. That article encouraged many designers to ask me about forthcoming industry changes. Here’s what you can expect and how to prepare for better business practices that lead to higher sales each year.

First four

Be ready for big orders
Keeping your inventory lean and tight throughout each season can be a smart decision so goods don’t expire quickly. However, knowing where to find additional product from various sources is mandatory for big orders. That will help you to help corporations looking to impress prospects and new clients. Successful designers practice this skill daily.

Source new products
The way to send clients running to your competitors is to offer clients the same sausage and chocolates you always purchase from suppliers. While such buying is in your comfort zone, you’ll soon not be comfortable with slow sales. Broaden your inventory through attending trade shows and reviewing industry publications. New products will freshen your designs and sales.

Look at other cultures
There’s nothing more interesting than seeing how designers in Asia, Africa, and Europe create stunning designs that wow their clients. This is true about U.S. designs, too, if you’re located outside of America. Ideas begin to flow when you consider their techniques. Best of all, you don’t have to travel to other countries. Search online to find gift basket designs created by industry colleagues in other nations.

Subscribe to clients’ publications
One thing to do this year is broaden your gift basket, design, and target marketing ideas. Thankfully, the process is not difficult. Ask your clients for names of industry publications that they read. Also, learn why those publications are vital to their professional success. Research the subscription qualifications online to attempt to get your copy. Your goal is to learn more about clients’ industries in order to broaden your marketing.

Next three

See the bigger picture
If your goal is to stay small and cater to a select group of clients, that goal is commendable, but there’s a problem. You won’t receive consistent orders, and those clients can suddenly end their businesses. Now you’re not just small, you’re also out of business. Smart designers plan ahead by recognizing the ebb and flow of gift basket sales. You don’t have to be big to think big. However, you do have to see your business as one that’s busy when you want it to be.

Stay on alert
Online tools are your friend. Hopefully, you’re feeding those tools with care and attention so it delivers information that educates and informs every week. Alert services are available to introduce new prospects, share competitive news, and highlight alternative products. Don’t wait another moment to subscribe to these services which deliver results through tweets and email.

Create and offer alternatives
Gift baskets are your foundation. However, clients won’t know about other items you offer unless you keep them informed. This is done in person, through a newsletter, in a blog post, or through advertisements in print or online. One thing you never want is seeing your customer with tote bag gifts from a competitor, something you also create but never told the customer. That situation breaks your heart and wallet, too. Let clients know about everything you offer, and keep reminding them so they select you.

Final reveal

Look back as well as forward
What’s been your go-to method to get orders? Is it a method that you still count on, or has it been forgotten in exchange for something you heard or read online that works for someone else? New ways of capturing orders has its place, but tried-and-true methods are keepers. Start documenting the steps that get people to approve the sale. Don’t let that foundation be forgotten due to an untested new-and-shiny method.

Outsource what you cannot purchase
One of the worst feelings in the pit of your stomach is saying no to a customer request because you do not or cannot keep it in stock. This occurs when perishable items such as flowers, fruits, or brownies are the right gift. Companies that keep perishables available are here to help you through a membership or other type of partnership. Have such a company on standby to deliver your outsourced inventory.

Document what, why, and how systems work
You cannot keep every business detail in your memory. It’s simply impossible. Yet, making time to document how you implement a website code, where you found a key design component, or how to invoice customers by email seems to be laborious. What’s even worse is trying to remember the process. What a waste of valuable time! Make time to set up and document your business operation. Your staff, your outsourcing partners, and you, too, will be thankful.

Which of these changes 10 ways to stay on top of the ever-changing gift basket landscape is surprising? Which will you incorporate right away?