How to Sell a Local Gift Box Online

By Breanna Carey

Marketing Strategies

sell local gift boxes online

Have you had a moment when a package arrives, and you start to feel giddy knowing that someone sent a local gift box your way? It’s one of the best feelings! 

With the most festive time of year upon us, as you’re humming along to holiday tunes, you might be feeling in the spirit of giving yourself. 

Thankfully, as an experience provider, you can use your savvy knowledge to enjoy some extra revenue. Regardless of the experience you provide — one element of working in travel and tourism is that you’re already a local expert. 

Suppose you’re looking for a solution to seasonal slowdown or limited guest capacity for in-person tours. Wouldn’t it be easy to benefit from your community connections by selling local gift boxes?

And in this case, your knowledge of the “must-visit” spots gives you an advantage in knowing what your customers like. Let’s explore whether offering a gift basket service would fit in nicely with your existing tourism business. 

Why offer a local gift box

During the holiday season, especially, customers shift their focus from shopping for themselves to giving gifts to colleagues, friends and family. For many, one of the tough decisions is choosing what to give friends and family. 

A gift box service involves gathering local items, packaging them in an attractive format and delivering them to recipients. What they end up turning into is a delightful gifting experience that tops a run-of-the-mill gift any day. 

After two years of celebrations being curbed or changed due to the virus, people are seeking more experiential gifts for loved ones. And thankfully— curated gift boxes can satisfy a variety of recipients. 

Last year, I sent a local gift box to a couple of good friends who had endured a particularly challenging year. After exploring a handful of options, I narrowed it down to a food one based in B.C., supporting local artisans. Not only did they enjoy the gift over a few weeks, but they were touched by the gesture and we felt amazing giving such a beautiful gift box.

Amazingly, there’s no shortage of gift basket options available. Between attire, chocolate, cheese, crafts and spa gifts, narrowing down the choices can be a matter of finding something you’re excited about.

sell gift box online

How to start selling local gift boxes online 

Local gift boxes offer more than fancy flavours and trinkets. They can act as a way of celebrating local artisans and forging business relationships with smaller-scale producers — something you may already be well-versed in.

For instance, if you provide local walking tours that feature some of the best flavours your city has to offer, you’re already one step ahead of your competitors. 

With existing partnerships, local gift boxes — allow guests from further away to experience the flavours from your specific region. The unique selling point for a gift box service is that it acts as a one-stop shop, providing convenience, experience and a gift all in one. 

Not sure how to put together a gift box that your customers will be excited about?

Trust your intuition and build on what you offer your existing customer base.

Here are some gift box ideas to get you started: 

  • Advent boxes
  • Chocolate gift boxes 
  • Corporate gift boxes
  • Family-friendly gift boxes
  • Food gift boxes
  • Baby gift boxes
  • Housewarming gift boxes
  • Holiday gift boxes
  • Seasonal gift boxes
  • Spa gift boxes
  • Thank-you gift boxes 
  • Wellness gift boxes

Choosing a niche

Choosing what you want to include in your gift box is as simple as asking yourself what you’d want. In addition, while taking observing the kinds of gifts customers notice while on tour. 

Buying local first offers the advantage of availability and reliability without needing to lean on shipping to send out your gift baskets. The challenge, however, is in deciding what to include in the box and being able to rely on suppliers. 

Ultimately, you’ll need to see if there’s enough of a demand for the items you’re selling. And don’t be afraid to offer specific gift basket options for a limited time.

Popular as celebration, holiday and thank you items, gift boxes should be curated with artisans and small businesses in mind. Knowing what your customers want and who they’re buying for will help you to sell your gift boxes. 

Connecting with customers 

In-person connection beats social media for many customers. Even the Harvard Business Review shares how much people appreciate the value of real-life interaction.

Regardless of whether you can see guests in person, use email and social media marketing tools to inform people of your latest offers.

One way to keep customers in the loop with new offerings is to automate your mailing list and send out surveys on a monthly or quarterly basis. 

By tailoring messaging and marketing to your audience, you’ll continue to see what methods work to gain attention. Assume they don’t know about your business and look at all of your touchpoints to connect with your customers. 

Defining your target audience

If you have an audience of travelers who purchase activities or tours from you, you probably have a sense of what they like.

From here, build on this knowledge and dig a little deeper to discover what guests are most excited about when they’re out on a walking tour. 

Look at the demographics of who already buys from you and what they rave about in their reviews. And feel free to reach out to past customers to hear what stands out from their own past experiences.

local gift box featuring gourmet cheese

Determining your pricing 

Once you commit to creating gift boxes, you’ll need some cash flow to get started. Do you want to offer seasonal gift baskets or local gift boxes that guests can purchase all year round? 

You’ll need to determine how much you can invest upfront without gift boxes selling immediately.  Pricing will need to cover all of your costs including admin time, packaging, wholesale costs along with shipping fees if you choose to offer this option to your customers.

Remember, you’re providing customers with a convenient, thoughtful gifting option that would likely cost them much more money and time to assemble on their own. Ensure your pricing makes sense and covers all of your bases so you’re not simply offering a gift basket service as a labour of love.

Establish a demand

Knowing what customers will purchase is key for making sales with a gift basket service. 

Lead with a compelling story behind your gift box. Honing in, do you specialize in local chocolates, flavours or art pieces? Do you want to create a higher-end, luxury limited-time gift box or a more generic gift basket service with local artisanal treats and home-baked goodies? 

Honing in one what you want to offer and exploring other gift basket services will help you to formulate an attractive gift box offer of your own. The next step? Get it in front of your ideal customers.

Explore Facebook marketing

With Facebook marketing and paid ads, you can hone in both target and look-a-like audiences.

Applying this technique, a US-based tour company, Milwaukee Tours used Facebook Ads to generate nearly $150k of local gift box sales over one weekend. In a short timeframe Theresa shared how she shifted their business model from tours to food boxes and how it’s now become a pillar in her tour business.

If you’ve haven’t already explored our Facebook Ads for Tour Operators guide, it’s free to download and can help you understand how Facebook advertising can help you generate more revenue. 

Generate an email list

Explore your existing customer base and create an email list. Your goal is to inform customers of your new gift box service and highlight the items within.

Add a festive feel to your message, let them know where they can find more information and make a point to stay in the loop. Your marketing emails can also include polls and surveys that help you further reach your customers.

Start with your existing customer list and continue to build up your target base.

Listen to your customer’s wants and focus on creating the kinds of gift box sets that inspire them to buy. Simple gestures that offer detailed product information and personal stories from local artisans make customers feel good about supporting the local businesses that provide your gift basket items.

Marketing local gift boxes 

One advantage you have is the capacity to offer online purchases for your customers.

And while your focal point can be the local items in the gift, the real selling point is providing convenience to buyers. Instead of having to go out and gather all of these items individually, they can enjoy the expediency of purchasing a gift basket online.

And this is where visibility plays a key role in the success of your marketing plan. Not only do you want to display your gift baskets on your website, but you have to use marketing tactics to get customers to land on your website in the first place. 

Sure, getting started might not be a get-rich-quick scheme. Even if you start now and begin generating sales, you can be in full swing by the Holiday season next year. And, there are reasons for gifting all year long.

gift basket service with local products

Promotional strategies

Holiday marketing campaigns can be immensely beneficial for attracting new customers. Much like adding gift certificates to your website, selling gift boxes involves a few more steps. Start by experimenting with different marketing tactics, including emails, newsletters and social media posts to see which strikes a chord with your customers. 

When it comes to feedback — your customers are your best source of information. A seasonal marketing campaign can generate new customers and reach a broader market, increasing your sales potential year-round.

But visibility is the secret sauce to getting these curated boxes into the hands of your customers.

Source packaging

Coming up with ideas for how you want your gift basket to look is part of the fun of creating your own gift box aesthetic.

Custom design, packaging and packing paper all impact your bottom line. Consider whether you want plain cardboard boxes or seasonal gift wrap or region-specific artwork donning your gift boxes and look at the additional costs required to make it work.

Plus, before you land on your packaging you’ll need to know how many items to include and the size for each of them so things are sized well.

Can a gift basket business be profitable 

Yes, you can absolutely generate a profit with a gift basket service. As with any offer, it will come down to the numbers. Add up all of your proposed startup costs to help you get a sense of your break-even point, per box. 

Be prepared that some of your customers may feel your gift box pricing is too high. But once you factor in all of the costs you’ll incur to create local gift boxes, you’ll have a more clear sense of the profit margins you have to work with. 

Your initial costs might include: 

  • Packaging 
  • Custom packaging
  • Wrapping
  • Shipping and handling costs
  • Individual item costs (whether you can place an order large enough to receive wholesale pricing)

Ask yourself whether it’s possible to generate enough attention to sell 5 or 10 boxes per day? Or if you have the capacity to gather all of the items you need for your gift basket? And can you still generate a profit per box, or is your pricing dependent on being a volume-based business? 

Once you understand what your customers want and can reliably deliver to them, you’ll set yourself up with loyal buyers and a promising foundation for growth. 

Don’t miss out on the opportunity to increase sales by asking for feedback and finding out what your customers love most.

local gift box items

Examples of local gift boxes

Capitalize on where you’re located and think of all of the items you could include that can create an experience for a gift box recipient. For instance, your selling feature might be “bring {the city} home to your loved ones” with items sourced from your region.

Local to Victoria, one tour company called Off the Eaten Track in Victoria offers guided and self-guided tours around downtown, featuring local cuisine, touting the tours as “don’t be a tourist, be a foodie explorer.” They now offer island boxes available for pickup from a downtown location. The New York Times shares how gift boxes can be seen as more thoughtful gifts and share different types of available gift boxes. 

There are some companies that have successfully pivoted and ventured down new pathways during COVID-19. So, if you’ve been mulling over whether this could work for your tour business, there’s plenty of opportunity in the gift basket business.

Wrapping up 

​​Promoting and selling local gift boxes can generate attention and draw new customers to your tour business. 

Local gift baskets act as a gift that keeps on giving. Sure, curated gift boxes can include food, preserves, art and home decor — all items people appreciate. However, what you’re really selling is a thoughtful, experience.

Make a point of promoting your local gift boxes by letting your audience know that you offer more than experiences. The impact on your bottom line might just leave you feeling a little more jolly after all. 

Want more inspiring holiday marketing ideas?

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