Equipment Needed for a Gift Basket Business
Equipment will essentially cover any items that are needed for your business to operate and for you to make your baskets. This article will expand on that information and discuss aspects such as overall costs of your equipment and the requirements for packaging, storage, marketing, and location related equipment.
The equipment you will need for packaging purposes will be determined by your shipping and delivery policies. Your main goal with packaging is to ensure that the completed basket reaches the customer in one piece and without damage. This may mean that the appearance of your packaged gift basket will not be as high of a priority for you, sacrificing it in favor of a safe delivery. However, you may be able to include decoration on your packaging to make it stand out more or be more visually appealing without compromising the durability of your packaging. Additional equipment may be needed to make that happen.
Basic equipment will usually include the basket itself--which may be a box or some other item, depending on the theme or design of the order--cellophane or shrink wrap, adhesive, labels, and filler or cushioning items. The strength and durability of your packaging may affect the specifics for your equipment. For example, a standard piece of equipment for packaging purposes is adhesive like glue or tape to seal the packaging. Hot glue guns are fairly standard, but you may want to take it a step further and use heat to seal some of your packaging. Heat guns and shrink-wrap machines are much more advanced options for sealing, and they usually can produce a heartier outcome.
The equipment need for storage largely depends on what you plan on including in your inventory. Some of your inventory may need specialized storage conditions to prevent damage. To review, items for your gift baskets will require control over the environment they are stored in. Aspects like temperature and lighting can damage products before they can be added to a basket, resulting in a loss of product. Possible equipment may be refrigeration or cooling units for temperature and window coverings like curtains to block out excess light.
Your inventory can grow to be rather large, and you may need equipment for organizing purposes. Storage containers like bins and boxes will work for smaller items and can be marked for identification. Shelving will increase the amount of storage space you have, even if your inventory is confined to a single room. Labels to mark containers and an inventory system are also equipment needs that you will have to fill. Software options, like those listed later in this article, can create a database that you can easily update and use to keep track of your inventory present in storage.
The location you operate out of will affect what equipment you need for your gift basket business. If you just have a space you work out of to assemble baskets, like your home, you will need items specific to filling orders. Standard recommendations for workspace equipment for gift basket businesses include worktables or counters, full sets of tools--remember to have at least one set per employee--to assemble product, and packing material.
If you have retail space for your gift basket business, you will need equipment to make sales:
Electronics--Cash registers, a phone system, credit card readers, a computer, and software will be necessary equipment. You can use your personal computer for your business when you first begin, but you will need to make sure that you can properly organize and separate work files form personal files. A printer that is compatible with your computer is also recommended, and will require additional equipment like ink and paper. Software may include programs for tracking inventory, sales, and for marketing purposes. Tax and bookkeeping programs, like QuickBooks, are popular choices for businesses to use, but you are not necessarily required to use a specific program for your business.
Display--Any equipment needed for display purposes will need to be able to support the weight of your products. Some of the more complex gift basket designs can result in a fairly hefty final product. Pay attention to the strength and weight limits of display equipment like shelving. If you are able to hang items, equipment such as hooks need to be able to handle the weight--as will the wall the hook is attached to. Additional display equipment may include pricing guns and labels, advertising posters, and signage.
General Retail--Additional equipment like sales tags, receipt paper for the cash register and credit card machines, and office supplies like pens and stationary are also needed for your retail space. These are items that you will go through on a regular basis, so you may need to find a supplier or other source to keep them in stock.
Utilities--The utilities you use for your business on a daily basis--electricity, water, heat, cooling, internet--are all accessed through the necessary equipment. Fixtures like faucets and lighting are necessary components for your business, as you need them to create an acceptable environment to work out of. Internet access, through Wi-Fi, can be how you keep track of your business accounts, your social media, online advertisements, and stay in contact with business associates like your suppliers.
Up-keep--Equipment for the upkeep of your business location--whether it is where you store product, assemble your baskets, or a retail space--is going to be necessary. The spaces you use will need to be cleaned and maintained to prevent them from damaging your inventory and completed products. Equipment to keep out critters that may chew and eat items in your inventory may be necessary, even as a preemptive strike to keep them out. You may also consider keeping a basic tool kit--hammer, screwdriver, duct tape, etc.--for making minor repairs to other equipment items.
If you are able to or have decided to include delivery services for your gift basket business, then the main pieces of equipment you will need are a car or truck and a driver with a valid driver's license. The upkeep and care of the vehicle you use for deliveries will be your responsibility, and you may want to have access to equipment--including mechanic services--that will ensure that it stays in full working order. Your vehicle should also be up-to-date on all licensing and insurance requirements as dictated by your state.
You may want to consider installing or investing in equipment for your car to secure your baskets and prevent damage during delivery. Even something you can temporarily place in your car to support a basket and keep it from tipping over will work. You may also want to consider using a GPS device to help you find delivery locations. If you have a smartphone, the pre-installed map feature provides simple navigation or you can download a free navigator app to use.
Marketing-related equipment will include anything that you need to promote your gift basket business. This can mean items used to secure posters and banners, holders for business cards, and anything you can use to make advertisements. If you use online marketing tactics, the main piece of equipment you will need is internet access. Websites, online ads, social media accounts, and other online marketing tools--, which will be further, are also a part of your business' tools and equipment.
The offline marketing material you use may be exposed to damage on a regular basis. Whether you do your marketing on your own or you outsource it to an advertiser, you will need to make sure that you have equipment for displaying and maintaining any marketing material. There is also equipment needed to attach them to surfaces like walls and even prop them up on tables or counters. If you attend trade shows, conferences, and conventions where you bring your advertising material with you, you will need equipment to transfer it safely from location to location. Even marketing material that you send out will need equipment. Flyers that you mail to past customers or those on a mailing list will need equipment in the form of stamps, envelopes, and so on.
Equipment for training purposes are only needed if you are going to have employees in your business. This may not be the case when you first begin you gift basket business, but you can still introduce training equipment for when and if you do decide to hire employees. The necessary equipment you will need for training purposes will depend on what responsibilities your employees will have. Typically, you will be able to use what you already have in stock for training purposes, but this may not always be the case.
For a gift basket service, your training equipment does not need to be overly complicated. An employee handbook is your main piece of equipment for training and you should have spare copies on hand. You may want to purchase extra supplies and tools for employees to practice making baskets with. It can be one way to teach them--and possibly use the completed basket as a demonstration product--without creating too much waste from errors.
Equipment to ensure the safety of you, your employees, and your customers may be necessary. In many cases, the inclusion of safety equipment is required in order to comply with federal and state safety laws. The Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) dictates rules and regulations that businesses must follow and determines what industries are exempt from the act.
Equipment is not always required for safety. Some safety aspects can handled with basic care of your work and retail spaces, as mentioned earlier in the article. Replacing and repairing damaged or faulty equipment used in your gift basket business can sometimes be the easiest way to comply with safety standards. Establishing a system to monitor any hazards in regards to your equipment, products, location(s), and general business operations will ensure that everything remains safe and up to code.
Creating a safety program for your equipment usage and care will, in the long run, safe you money and time. OSHA estimates that for every dollar a small business invests into the safety of its equipment and operations will have a return of $4-$6 on average. Evaluating your equipment yearly, biyearly, or according to whatever frequency works for you, depending on how busy your business becomes, can help prevent hazards from developing.
The cost of your equipment can affect things such as your budget and start-up funds. The total cost of your equipment alone can run into the thousands depending on how you structure your gift basket business and how intricate you want to start off. A retail space, for example, will include rent and utilities, fixtures, displays, and décor as part of its equipment costs. Equipment that you already have can be removed from your total cost, which can lower your total start-up budget. However, anything that needs to be repaired or upgraded can cancel out any savings.
The last stage of creating a gift basket business, and one of the most important, is putting together an effective marketing plan. Having an effective marketing plan can allow your business to have a customer base and a presence within the gift basket industry. It can also help you refine your business operations and help you make wiser financial decisions.
In this article, you will learn about how you can create a marketing plan for your gift basket business. Understanding the different components of marketing that you should and can use for the sake of your gift basket business can make a world of a difference in determining if you will succeed or fail.
Developing a Marketing Plan
A marketing plan is only as good as the effort put into it. For the developmental process, you need to look at all of the factors involved that can affect your marketing strategy. Making mistakes with your marketing and advertising can have a negative impact on your gift basket business, costing you money, time, and energy. Understanding the different parts of your marketing plan can help you make sure that you are covering all of your bases and prevent you from leaving out crucial aspects.
What is your goal?--The goal of your marketing plans need to be a little more in-depth than just moneymaking. Goals can affect the execution of a marketing strategy and the type of method used. Small details like the word choice in your advertisement will be decided up by what the purpose of the entire advertisement is.
When you decide that you want to market your business, you need to ask yourself what it is that you hope to accomplish. Is it to expand your business and attract new customers? Do you have a new product and need to tell your current customers about it? Are you having a sale or other special event and you need to inform customers?
How are you going to do it?--Your marketing plan will only work if the strategies you plan on using are effective. With a gift basket service, the majority of the standard marketing strategies that you can use will work. However, choosing a strategy can depend on the where, what, and why of your marketing plan. Certain strategies work best in specific areas and with specific audience demographics. For example, social media marketing may work better with clients who are in their thirties or younger than it would with clients who are sixty.
Creativity in marketing can be a valuable skill, as the way you present your product or service can set the tone for potential clients. A dull or weak marketing plan that uses strategies poorly or not to their fullest extend will be passed over and ignored by customers. With gift baskets, the competition requires you to make sure that you stand out from amongst the crowd. Playing with trends, being a bit flashy, and not being afraid of trying something new with your marketing can give you a much needed edge over the person next to you.
What costs are there?--Marketing is, to put it mildly, expensive. Many businesses can pour a great amount of funding into their marketing only to see a small return on investment (ROI). The success of your marketing plan will be determined by things such as your ROI and the feedback you receive can help you make adjustments to prevent further loss.
A part of creating your marketing plan is compiling a budget for any and all advertisement. Sticking to your marketing budget can be difficult, and it may even take up the bulk of your business expenses. The cost of making a single advertisement, especially if you are outsourcing the task to someone else, can be affected by the medium used, content, and even little aspects like color and font. There may be occasions where you can and should bend some of the rules you establish for your marketing budget, like major events or sales, but you should largely try to conserve your marketing spending.
Who is your audience?--If your marketing plans consistently fail, it will most likely be due to the fact that you do not have an understanding of your audience. Presenting the wrong information in your marketing or directing it to the wrong people will prevent the message you want to send from being heard.
Deciding who is included in your audience can be done using the topics of demand and driving forces. Look at who buys gift baskets. Who buys the themes and styles that you offer? What is the market for gift baskets like in your area? Why would someone buy a gift basket in the first place? These are all valid questions that you need to ask yourself in order to determine who you need to direct your marketing plans at.
Your gift basket business' online presence is a major part of marketing. Most gift basket services do the bulk of their sales online through their website or through third-party sites that they've partnered with. As a marketing tool, the internet can reach a wider audience both in sheer numbers and distance. The amount of visitor traffic your website receives, for example, is like the amount of customers that step into your retail space to check out your products.
In order to use your online marketing resources properly and to their fullest extent, you must first familiarize yourself with your options and what they can offer you. Below are listed four major online marketing trends that can be used for your gift basket business. Remember that you can use as many of these strategies as you want, with any combination.
Website--Your website will serve multiple functions for your gift basket business, including a means of communication between you and your customers, the source of your retail presence online (and possibly your only retail presence), a representation of you and the business itself, and a source of marketing. Using your website for marketing can be one of the simplest methods that you use as it includes--or should include--all of the relevant information about your business that customers will need. Having features like news about your business, notices about sales, new product arrivals, or any significant changes about your business on your website can be the fastest way to communicate with your customer base.
One thing to consider when it comes to using your business website for marketing is to make sure that it can be as user-friendly as possible. Users who find it difficult to navigate a business' website will often leave shortly after visiting and will rarely get farther than the page they entered the site on. Websites that are not mobile-friendly often encounter the same problem, as the majority of internet users do spend a significant portion of their time web surfing on their cell phones.
Social Media--Social media, like your website, can present all of the relevant information about your business for clients as well as serve as a communication tool. It is often a more direct method to alert your customers to any news concerning your business, and comes with the added bonus of being shared by your customers with their social media followers.
Your social media accounts, like Facebook or Twitter, can be used to process and respond to feedback about your business quickly. Short term events like flash sales are more profitable when a business notifies their social media followers, as the posting will immediately appear in their news feed. With a social media account, you can apply your voice to your marketing and advertise directly to the customer in real time.
SEO--Search Engine Optimization or SEO is structuring method that can be used for advertising purposes. It involves multiple adjustment to your brand in an effort to increase your website traffic by pushing it higher up in ranking on search result pages. In doing so, SEO literally puts you above your competition; internet users will trust the results of their searches and will choose one of the first links presented in response to their inquiry.
When you implement SEO, you are restructuring your online presence. The predominantly includes your website, which will be made much more user-friendly. Keywords that can appear in web searches are seamlessly added to your website to boost its chances of a search engine selecting it. The whole process increases the amount of people who are exposed to your company online, increasing the chance that they will become a customer.
Click-ads--Click-ads or pay-per-click ads are online advertisements for your business. They typically appear as banners within the ad space of other websites and are designed to catch the attention of potential customers. If someone clicks on it, the ad will take that person directly to your website where they can view your products and learn more about your business. Using click-ads can be an affordable option for a small business; you do not have to pay for the ad space, but rather for each click.
This strategy can be a bit of a double-edge sword, as it is largely effective only when someone clicks on it. Ad-blocking programs and browser add-ons will often remove the ad entirely or prevent it from loading with the rest of the webpage, preventing the user from seeing the ad. Users can also flat out ignore an ad that appears on their screen, or simply leave the website that the ad appears on.
While it may be a bit old school, using print marketing can reach members of your audience you may not have access to any of your internet marketing strategies. It can also be used to advertise directly in your community. However you use print marketing--if you choose to use it--for your gift basket business, you need to be aware of what options are available and how they can be used.
Newspaper and Magazine--Ads in local publications can be one way to drum up business within your community. However, it can be expensive; a one-time small ad in an industry magazine can run into the thousands. Newspapers, even small localized ones, can still charge massive amounts for the print space they have available for businesses.
One method of using print media for your marketing purposes is to be written about by the publication. Most newspapers have a local portion in their business sections where they will talk about events for local businesses. Industry magazines will often look for contributors from within the community, which can allow you to share your experiences while talking about your services.
Posters--Poster advertisements can be used within your retail location to tell your customers about current deals and specials. They can also be used at trade shows, conferences, and conventions for the gift basket industry that you may choose to attend. If you have a booth for your business, a poster can be used as inexpensive signage that you do not have to worry about the upkeep for. A poster for a conference or trade show can include some of the basic information about your gift basket business, like product offerings, deals, upcoming events, and more. Some businesses, especially those who are active in their communities, will swap posters and advertisements with other businesses. Doing so helps both parties and can open the door to them being a potential customer for your business.
Flyers--Printing flyers with your business information, basic product offerings, and upcoming events can be another method of drumming up attention for your gift basket business. Flyers are smaller than posters and can be distributed with a bit more ease. If you have a mailing list for frequent customers, you can send flyers or postcards to them with information about specials that they might be interested in. Including a flyer in your baskets will provide the recipients--who may not know anything about your business as they are not the client who placed the order--can be one way to introduce yourself to the other half of your customer base.
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