It was my close friend’s birthday last week; the friend who has stood by me in every ups and downs of life. I wanted to gift him something unique but was really pressed for time. Considering my six-days-working office schedule, I could not spare time to buy a gift for him. Voila! To my rescue came - the online gift shops.
Like they say necessity is the mother of all inventions and also all business opportunities. Entrepreneurs have cashed in on this necessity too. With the hectic lifestyle, people prefer shopping online over visiting the brick and mortar store, especially if it is for a gift item.
An online gift shop is a website that sells gift items. The gift items can be anything like mugs, T-shirts, and key chains. The things available for purchase are on display on the website and can be bought by several modes of payment; credit/debit cards as well as cash on delivery.
Customers can check the product on the website, and place their order. The specifications of size, gender, colour and others depending on the product are mentioned while the order is placed. Then the product is customised and delivered at the mentioned address by the seller. So the buyer is saved from the hassle of going to the market.
There is no limit to products that are sold online. Products ranging from T-shirts, jewellery, bags and other accessories to electronics all are high on demand. All you need to do is assess your skill-sets and the infrastructure you have and then zero-in on a product, which you can easily manufacture.
Mr Sundar Thulsiraman, the founder of www.t-woods.com says, “We were already into the manufacturing of T-shirts for other brands. So we thought of launching a domestic brand online.” Apart from the business for the parent company, Mr Thulsiraman gets orders online too. “We get corporate orders online from companies like HCL,” he adds.
There are three very important things for an online gift shop:
For creative and fresh designs you can either have a team of designers or produce user-generated products or both. Mr Kashyap Dalal, the founder and the Maharaja (another name for CEO) of www.inkfruit.com, which sells T-shirts online, says, “We have a team of designers and users can also upload graphics. We hold design competitions also. Every month we have voting for these designs and the score each graphic gets helps us decide the products. The winner gets prize money ranging from Rs 5, 000 to Rs 20, 000 and also publicity. That gives them an incentive to create their own stuff.”
Your website should also be search engine optimised so that it comes in the first page when a search is initiated. It might sound unnecessary but the website is the most important tool of your business and SEO (search engine optimisation) is the most important method if marketing it.
As many people choose not to share their sensitive data like credit card number etc. online, there should be options available for payment. From plastic money to cheque to cash-on-delivery, you should be open to all modes of payment.
According to Mr Dalal the total investment in setting up something like this should not be more than Rs 5 Lakhs. “In fact if you have the know-how of creating a website and all, the initial cost will just be in thousands,” he says.
Keep in mind that you do not have to invest in a shop or an office. You can start your website from home.
Your team must have some designers and technical support. If you have both you needn’t worry about anything. Mr Dalal started with just three people including him. Today he has a team of 25 people who handle the technology front, the customers, operations and also has a creative team.
Who is your target audience? Somebody who surfs the Internet; and has no time to go out to the market or has a laid back nature! In most cases this is a profile of youngsters with enough disposable income. So design your product accordingly.
Bring in some innovation, which goes even without saying. You need to stand out. There is a lot of competition. You need to strike a chord with your customer; and there has to be a unique way of doing that.