Wondering how to start a gift shop? For many people, gifts are a part of life – they’re essential for birthdays, house warming events, and a wide array of other occasions. As more and more people turn to start up their own business, it can be difficult deciding which path to take, and what sort of business to create. If like many others, you see the value of a gift, it can be tempting to take on the challenge of starting a gift business.
Both challenging and rewarding, a gift shop enables you to create memories for others in the form of stunning presents for every occasion. All throughout the year, gifts are in demand but are particularly called for during the Christmas rush and wedding season, which makes a gifts shop a scalable endeavor with high profits. Not only that but running your own gift shop comes with the additional perk of choosing a theme that suits you. Presents are as varied as each person – running a niche store can be just as profitable, if not more, than operating a general gift shop.
So, what does it take to start up your own gift shop?
1. Decide on your niche
As mentioned, specialty gift shops perform just as well, if not better, than general gift stores. Establishing yourself in a set niche offers the advantage of being known for a range of items, and being the first place people turn to when they require a gift for someone who is passionate about the same things that you stock. This could be a certain color, a certain trend, a set price range, or a general theme such as fantasy gifts, spooky gifts, or jewelry.
When deciding your niche, you will want to establish your ideal customer and what their budget is – don’t price yourself out of the market, but don’t undercharge so much that you lose money rather than make it. When thinking about offering niche gifts, such as themed items, you should conduct research on other online stores offering similar goods.
Whilst offering a specially curated selection of goods may be the option you go for, note that offering a wide range of general gifts can also be as successful and that it can broaden your client base. If you operate from a location with historic significance, it could be a potential option to offer location-based gifts to add extra value to your business, particularly if they work well with the existing range of items that you offer.
2. Find the Right Supplier
The supplier you choose to purchase from is just as important as the items you decide to sell. Especially in 2020, it can be difficult communicating with suppliers around the world due to restrictions on trade and work. Working with a supplier local to you may be an excellent way to stay ahead of industry changes whilst also being able to ensure quick delivery and customer service, but still having access to affordable prices and a wide range of stock.
When deciding on a supplier, it’s important to make sure that they meet your requirements such as stock variation and availability, whilst still offering a price that makes sense for your business. Depending on your target clientele, the cost of a stock will vary – particularly if you wish to open up a high end, luxury gifts shop, compared to a budget store.
In general, there are a few important factors that should help you decide which supplier(s) to go with, and that includes customer service, customer relationships, and communication. A good supplier will be interested in your venture and will offer products that fit your range, rather than just what they want you to buy from them, and good customer service is always important. With any good supplier, a stellar working relationship is vital to ensure smooth operations, and a good supplier will make your life easier.
3. Marketing is vital
The vast majority of entrepreneurs appreciate the importance of marketing. Social media marketing, content marketing, and SEO are all vital to an aspiring gift business, and all of them can have a huge impact on your sales. To begin with, marketing can be performed by yourself, or outsourced if you aren’t confident. When it comes to running a gift shop, word of mouth is an incredible marketing strategy, and social media is also essential to marketing your gifts.
When it comes to making your gift shop a success, incorporate new ideas and fresh themes into your gift shop marketing strategy. Coming up with new ideas and thinking outside the box can really pay off! Establishing yourself as the go-to place for gifts in your niche can create an online buzz around your brand new store, so make sure you launch with a bang and decide exactly how you want to present yourself.
Particularly around your launch, it’s a great idea to find your feet with marketing, and adjust your strategy for your audience. There are plenty of really great guides to get started with marketing that can help you discover your target audience, and how best to appeal to them. Different products also require different marketing strategies – perfume, for instance, needs to appeal to a type of lifestyle, whereas novelty socks have a much different marketing requirement.
Deciding on your target client, what their age is, price bracket, and location should be your first step to deciding who your buyers will be. If you want to sell a ‘lifestyle’, then it’s important to figure out what lifestyle you wish to sell. A lifestyle can be luxurious, humble, extravagant, opulent, or calm.
Find out what you wish to sell to your buyer, and sell it!
With a gift shop, there are ample opportunities to drive traffic to your business with special events such as graduations, Christmas, Easter, and other annual holidays. At these peak times, a business should boom, and you may have to carefully plan your marketing strategy around these events. Particularly around Christmas and Black Friday, there are plenty of things that can go wrong with server crashes, products being out of stock, or not hitting your marketing correctly. Incorporate these holidays into your marketing plan and create a campaign for these dates sooner rather than later.
As a general rule of thumb, planning for annual events should be done as soon as possible (even at the start of the year!), so make it a priority to ensure you have ample stock, server space, and support for these dates.
4. Choosing Your Platform
These days, there are many different places that you can offer your products. No longer confined to standard brick and mortar stores, gift shops can be hosted entirely online. There are plenty of pros and cons to both options, but an online storefront can result in lower overheads, and the opportunity to market on a global scale. A brick and mortar store can boost trust in your brand, and, depending on location, allows you to position yourself right in front of your target audience.
If you opt to create an online platform, there are several things to take into account. Are your items handmade? What stores fit your requirements, and also fit into your budget? Are you going to have your own website, or will you operate through social media?
When deciding on how you want to sell your products, you need to find a strategy that suits you. For those considering how to start a gifts shop, it’s vital to find a comfortable platform to offer your gifts, and brand yourself. Many people are opting to go online-exclusive due to rising rents for brick and mortar stores, and offering your products online gives you the opportunity to work from home, scale your business indefinitely as soon as possible, and allows you to customize the feel and experience for your buyers.
Once you’ve decided whether to go online or in person, it’s a good time to decide how you want your store to operate. For those of you who’ve decided to go online, finding a website host and provider is a great starting point. WordPress, Shopify, and Etsy are some great sites to begin, and markets like Etsy, Depop, and Shpock offer an in-built audience for you to market to immediately but lack customization options, and you will be up against other sellers.
Working on your own website through Shopify, Wix or WordPress means you have unlimited options to customize and brand your store, but you will need to build your SEO and audience from scratch.
5. Launch your Gift Shop
Launching your brand is always a big deal, and creating a buzz online is a great way to launch with a bang. Branding yourself, opening a stunning store (online or brick and mortar), and holding a launch party is a great way to start your gift shop and generate the first bits of interest in your business.
When launching your gifts shop, it may be a good idea to write articles for other sites about your launch, and offer discounts and freebies to garner even more interest. The initial traction gained from your launch will set the tone for the rest of your time in business, so start right!
There are many different ways to launch a brand – from the small, quiet launches to the loud, in-person events, and it all depends on how you wish the world to see your business and what you sell.
By the time you are ready to open your store, you should have a great marketing strategy, a backlog of genuinely great products, and a wonderful storefront that you’re proud of. By planning how to start your gift shop, you should be able to accumulate plenty of interest at launch and keep the interest going all year round! Take heed of special events and trends during the year, and tailor your marketing strategy to the events that signal huge increases in profits (such as Christmas, New Year, back to school season).
Running a gift shop is highly rewarding, and enables you to create magical moments for your clients all year round. Offering a wide range of gifts ensures maximum profitability, and offering add-ons for your store, such as t-shirt printing, can allow you to boost profits, and scale your brand.
Gift shops are largely scalable and can become a booming business, so why not consider running your own gifts shop if you’re looking for a competitive, rewarding career that brings people happiness?