Still a healthy part of the business, The Hallmark store once almost defined the gift shop concept. Now, nearly every kind of store you can name has some sort of gift mix and much of it is home-oriented. Whether a photo frame or a vase, a candlestick or a tray, these items are purchased as gifts as often as they are for the shopper’s own home.
Here are some buying tips to help you create a wonderful selection of home-oriented gifts in your store, just in time for the winter market experience. IMAX, always quick to recognize and meet the needs of retailers, is putting extra emphasis on gifts for the upcoming winter markets. You’ll see more than 700 new items in the IMAX line, including an array of giftable home décor items.
BUY WITH A SHARP EYE. In no other category is the good judgment and taste of the store buyer more crucial. A critical eye in the showroom for the unusual, special item is key. When you’re in an IMAX showroom, for example, you have more than 3,000 skus to choose from. Be selective, thinking how you can make the items even more ‘special’ once they’re on your floor.
SIZE REALLY DOES MATTER. Two measures retailers use in defining gifts vs. home accessories is physical size of the product and price point size, if you will. The smaller the size and lower the price, logically, the more likely it will appeal to the consumer as a gift.
Most customers have a price tag limit in their minds when they’re shopping for gifts. Help them out. Steal a page from your favorite magazine and create some displays, under $25 or under $50 or whatever price points work.
GIFTS ARE LESS SPECIFIC. While a customer may have a distinct view of what works in her own home, she easily will buy a gift that is a more traditional, eclectic piece without great knowledge of the person’s style.
In conversations over recent weeks with a number of retailers, the strong message from them is that while consumers may have slowed in buying for their own homes, they still are spending for gifts. One savvy retailer I know says her store handled the transition by increasing stock in tabletop hostess gifts, containers that hold soaps, candlesticks and photo frames.
THINK YEAR-ROUND. Keep that feeling of being a gift resource year-round, not just for the holiday season. Birthdays, weddings, births, health, successes all call for a present. Watch the calendar and make certain you have appropriate displays in time for those occasions.
And make it fun. What’s more fun than receiving a special gift? Host a non-birthday party early in the year inviting your customers to stock up on gifts early. If they spend a certain amount in your store, give them a ‘gift’ also.
WRAP IT ALL UP. And do help make it easy to shop at your store. Offer free gift wrap (in a distinctive look that’s yours only) and a cup of tea while they wait. Remember, the more comfortable you make the shopping experience, the more likely customers will seek out your store.