Photo: Mike Petrucci via Unsplash
We all like getting gifts from folks, right? Even if you tell your folks not to bother with a gift, when that gift-wrapped arrives at your home, you feel a twinge of anticipation.
Giving gifts is a custom that covers all areas of society, with people of all ages, income statuses, and regions participating to celebrate nearly every significant holiday and trip to vacation centers.
On top of that, the tourist trade supports the gift industry. Each year, thousands of visitors from around the world travel to zoos, aquariums, and museums, and many of them will buy a souvenir and gifts to take back home.
So, if you follow the adage that it's better to give than to receive, you've undoubtedly spent a lot of time in gift shops looking for the perfect gift for the folks around you. But have you ever factored what it would be like on the other side of the counter?
It might be hard to describe the retail gift industry because a gift is so broad in definition. Everything from teddy bears to mugs and plant vases to plush toys can be bought and given as gifts.
So, as a gift store entrepreneur, setting up a gift shop in a zoo, aquarium, or museum can be profitable if done correctly. There're a lot of things to put into consideration when setting up your gift shop business, such as getting a solid business plan together, choosing the perfect location, finding reliable inventory sources, stocking up on inventory, and ensuring that there's room for shoppers to personalize the gifts they buy.
You'll also want to have a variety of product ranges and make sure you sell seasonal products. However, you cannot afford not to sell online in this digital age. These tips will help you get started on the right foot and ensure that your gift shop is successful.
Below are some of the best things to consider while setting up a perfect gift shop:
Choose a Niche
Several gift shops, and souvenirs, are available in the market because more individuals want unusual or hard-to-find presents, which is why gift stores are becoming increasingly popular.
Numerous stores sell a variety of things as a result of the many niche possibilities available to individuals wanting to stand out in this market, so make sure you do thorough research to discover current gaps in the sector that are lucrative and will regulate traffic for your target marketplace.
In choosing a niche, ask yourself, what kind of gifts do you want to sell? If you love a certain type of gift, that's a great place to start. Are you interested in selling teddy bears, mugs, or plant vases? Consider your interests and expertise when making this decision.
Some of the gift shop niches you can start with are the Card gift shop, Arts & Crafts artisan gift shop, Flower bouquet gift shop, Ethnic gift shop, Holiday gift store, Gift Boutique, Personalized gift shop, Souvenir gift shop, etc.
You can also choose a gift shop based on individuals' interests and demographics, e.g. gifts for nature lovers, gifts for pet owners, gifts based on religion, gender, age group, etc.
Register Your Business and Get Your Documents Ready
You'll need legal documents to avoid problems with the legal authorities. The documents you need to provide may differ from one region or country; you'll have to contact your city council or authority office for specifics.
It is important to register your business with the government. It will give you a license to operate as a business and help you avoid any legal issues down the road.
You'll also need to get your tax ID number and open a business bank account. Once this is sorted, you can move on to the next step.
Choose a Location
The next step is to choose a location for your gift shop.
When establishing a gift shop, you'll need to think about many things, but one of the most important is the location. Because this will have a significant influence on your company's success, especially when operating a brick-and-mortar business.
This is important because your store's foot traffic will determine your success. Many gift shops are found where there are many travellers or big cities with high foot traffic.
If you're thinking of setting up a gift shop business in the zoo, ensure you get a high-traffic location near the entrance. The same goes for aquariums and museums.
If you cannot find a location where tourists go, you may pick any area of town that is well-populated and has a lot of traffic.
Whatever location you choose, ensure your inventory and selling price are appropriate for the general income of people in that area. So either set the pricing of your products according to the location or price them according to their place.
Financing Your Gift Shop Business
The next step is to find financing options. There are a few ways to finance your gift shop business. You can use your savings, take out a loan, or get investors on board.
If you're using your savings, ensure you have enough to cover the costs of setting up and running the business for at least six months. This will give you time to get the business off the ground and make a profit.
If you're taking out a loan, shop for the best interest rates and terms. And if you're looking for investors, make sure you have a solid business plan that outlines your goals and how you plan on achieving them.
Whatever option you have chosen, make sure that you spend a reasonable amount of time on a budget; this will enable you to have a guide on what to buy and what not to buy. It will also serve as a guide that will prevent you from financial misappropriation.
Gift Shop Masterplan
It will help if you plan your business journey, which serves as the core of the business and has the best strategic ways to operate the gift shop. Your gift shop playbook may include some of the following:
When stocking a gift shop, you must ensure a good mix of products. This includes items that are unique, popular, seasonal, and personalizable.
As far as inventory sources go, you have a few options. You can buy from wholesalers, manufacturers, or importers. You can also find products online.
Pricing and Payment Methods
You also need to ensure you have a good mix of product prices. This way, you can appeal to a wide range of customers, and an effective pricing model is important.
Set prices that attract customers and are competitive. You should also consider a reasonable profit margin to raise profits.
Initiate a variety of payment options; consider cash, credit cards, debit cards, POS, local checks, and online payments like PayPal.
If you have workloads and decide to hire employees, make sure you find people who are passionate about gift shops and have a good sense of sales and customer service.
You should also create a training program covering the basics of running the gift shop, such as product knowledge, handling money and using the POS system.
If you provide your customers exactly what they want, they will appreciate your services. By planning, you may increase the number of possibilities for your company.
Many gift shops offer customization options for their products. This is a nice way to scale up and appeal to customers.
You can offer engraving, monogramming, or other personalization services. You can also create custom gift baskets or create personalized gift wraps.
Digitalize by Selling Online
With the power of technology, you can also sell your gift products online. This is a great way to reach a wider audience and boost sales.
You can create an e-commerce website or sell through marketplaces like Etsy, eBay, or Amazon. You can use social media to promote your products and drive traffic to your website.
By selling online, you can offer a wider range of products, including digital products like e-books or music. You can also offer physical gift products that can be shipped to the customer's door.
Implement a Marketing Strategy
A good marketing strategy is important for any business, and a gift shop is no exception. There are several ways to market a gift shop, including digital and offline methods.
Some of the most effective marketing techniques include SEO, media buys, social media marketing, solo ads, email marketing, direct-response marketing, and content marketing. You can also use traditional methods like print advertising, billboards, sign post, direct mail, newspaper ads, radio jingles, or television ads.
Conclusively, if you're looking to set up a gift shop in a zoo or museum, consider these things. There are many other aspects of running a successful gift shop business that I didn't cover here. What are other important ones for you? Let me know in the comments below.