Gift baskets have been a favorite for 102 years. The first documented designs were for new babies, and creativity blossomed throughout the 1900s into spa and war baskets.

Designers who count on me to help them shape their businesses for the next five years and beyond know this information well through our monthly discussions and action planning, goals that you and I can achieve together, too.

They also know that their service (yes, gift baskets are a service as well as a product) and overall designs require an upgrade if they want to thrive. Unlike print publications and some now-out-of-business retailers, they focus on preparing for customizations their clients will expect.

The bottom line for the coming year is that you cannot continue to do business with gift baskets the same way you’ve always done. There’s a lot riding on your ability to satisfy customers, and that translates into earning top revenue.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, check out these nine changes happening worldwide. Then, decide if you will be in business because you’re ahead of the curve or working for someone else because you ignored the signs.

Your first look

1. Local demographics are changing
Most areas in every city, state, and country experience turnover in home ownership and company relocation. This causes the people who once purchased from you to leave while new people, who order gifts from other sources, plant themselves in your zone. There’s an uphill struggle to turn prospects into customers, and they won’t buy the same goodies you’ve been putting into gift baskets in past years.

2. Suppliers won’t carry the same merchandise
It’s unfortunate that wholesalers and supply houses are either consolidating or simply going out of business. Such situations create immediate changes in the types of products that make up the gifts you now create. New inventory forces you to update your designs, a process that’s not always easy but necessary if you’re to stay in business.

3. Customers will demand more and better
Check out your sales for the past two years. Is it going up, down, or the same? The answer may warn you that current customers are buying from other sources mainly because you offer the same designs again and again. If you cater to your comfort zone rather than cater to your customers, you won’t be comfortable for long.

4. Product options are changing
Now that cannabis is legal to sell in numerous U.S. states, the product is being added in candies, baked goods, beverages, chocolates, and other edible products. Customers may ask you about its availability in your gifts and baskets. Whether or not you agree with its use and sales, research about cannabis-based goods is worth your time, as there is huge sales potential in this area. Trade shows in legalized states will include exhibitors selling such items, so start there. More to come on this in the coming months.

5. Corporations are changing their buying habits
Large and small firms, as well as one-person operations, need to dazzle their customers and satisfy their staff. That won’t happen if the same grandma-looking gifts are presented. You don’t have to follow competitors who have budgets to buy whatever they wish, but you must make time to explore new merchandise that these robust buyers want.

Final four

6. Competitors create what you don’t
It’s a reasonable assumption that you don’t have space to refrigerate fruit, flowers, and brownies, nor do you have customers who order these items daily. However, there are options for you to consider an association with firms that provide such products for you at a reasonable cost. If you don’t expand your product line, the competition will take a huge chunk of your business.

7. You think the same designs are okay
Beauty will always be in the eye of the beholder, and this phrase is confirmed on a daily basis when you review your own designs. It’s time to have customers, trusted colleagues, or another group of individuals critique what you create, providing you with insights that probably are easily updated. Do this with thick skin, or be ready for thin profits.

8. Not having variety will decrease orders
As mentioned in No. 1, the landscape of people and businesses in your geographic area aren’t the same as they were when you began selling gift baskets. People today want more than generic designs for events from birth to bereavement. You may have started and stayed with 5-10 different designs, but that won’t fly now. Take a hard look at your offerings and make changes.

9. Hobbyists think they can do better than you
There’s competition, and then there are people who believe they can make gift baskets more gorgeous than yours. That’s what occasional gift basket makers believe when they see you shopping in dollar stores and low-cost retailers buying inventory for gift baskets you want to sell for $100. It’s time to stop buying what every consumer can get on the cheap and start purchasing like a real gift basket designer.

Your mission

Which of these reasons compels you to take a good, long, and healthy look at your business to ensure its longevity in the New Year and beyond?

Which one of these reasons is most important to you and will be your first order of business tomorrow morning?

Shirley George Frazier
In the gift basket world, all roads lead to Shirley George Frazier, the industry's reigning expert and international authority. Shirley is chief basketologist at Sweet Survival LLC and author of the industry's best-selling books, How to Start a Home-Based Gift Basket Business, The Gift Basket Design Book, and Marketing Strategies for the Home-Based Business. Shirley works with manufacturers and retailers to successfully add gift baskets to their current revenue streams. Shirley is also a frequent speaker at events and instructor of the popular online course, Start Your Own Gift Basket Business. Contact Shirley to speak at your event or call 973-279-2799 to schedule a consultation.

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