The gift and gift basket industry is constantly evolving. Unless we want to be left behind, we must take the risk and evolve as well.
Just think of how gift basket design has changed through the years and even the fact that cutesy is no longer the design type of choice. Cherie Reagor introduced those gorgeous gift baskets filled with beautifu silk florals when she was chosen as “Designer of the Year” for two years in a row at the Jubilee conventions. That became the style of choice. Many who chose to follow failed to realize, however, that you couldn’t put most of the money into expensive enhancements while cutting way back on actual products in the basket.
As a result of that, as well as simply the laws of evolution, the pendulum has swung back once again to fewer enhancements and more product.
Cutesy themes have, and will always be, popular for those one-of-a-kind unique gifts for personal giving. These are the baskets that are fun to create but also time consuming. But even those themes continue to evolve as the world, and the people in it, change.
GiftRetailersConnection has been a product of evolution as well. It all began with GiftBasketNetwork Directory in February 2005. Actually it goes back even further as I was a part of the giftbasketflorists directory that ceased to exist. A forum called GiftRetailersNetwork (which has since evolved into the current GiftRetailersConnection.ning.com forum) was added in 2008. Then I added the GiftBusinessOwners.com blog in 2009.
When Cherie Reagor ceased publishing Rave Reviews, I was asked by the members of the forum to begin a magazine for the industry since I had previous experience publishing a statewide newspaper and I had been a staff writer for Rave Reviews. Our research indicated that there just wasn’t a large enough market to make a full-color print publication economically feasible. The demise of the previous two industry publications proved that.
I joined forces with Sandee Overstreet and Pam Monroe as we added the pdf magazine Gift RetailersConnection. The first issue was published March 1st, 2010 The forum was moved to the current ning platform in May 2010.
Since that time, our subscribers have received their 40-50 page magazine on the first day of every other month like clockwork. We added a monthly newsletter and recently added the facebook group which attracted over 200 members in just a few weeks.
Why am I telling you all this?
Because I wanted to demonstrate how a business evolves and changes over time as well as to alert you that GiftRetailers Connection, is continuing to evolve. My team and I have been making plans as we’ve listened what you say you want and need.
We have plans for those of you who are new to the industry and have so many questions that those of us who have been there and done that can answer for you. We also have plans for those of you who have established businesses and are looking for a way to discuss your needs privately with others just like you. Our magazine will be undergoing an evolution as well.
This holiday season is a busy one for all of us involved in GiftRetailersConnection as we are becoming buried under holiday orders already. Even so, the plans are progressing and we will be making announcements in early 2015. Watch for it. We are excited about where we are headed and how we can help you. And we know you will be, too!
Good to Great
I’ll admit, I have been hesitant to make the changes. I was nervous because these aren’t small changes. Why would we change something that everyone already loved, something that was already a valuable resource to our industry?
Well, I am not going to give you one answer. I will give you three:
1) Commitment – When the three of us first began GiftRetailersConnection, we created a mission statement. It read:
The goal of Gift Retailers Network is to become the gift and gift basket industries’ leading resource for building a profitable successful business within an industry that is constantly changing . Sharing common goals, we will work together to inspire each other to be the best they can be. Vendors and service providers are an important part of our industry and will be invited to work with us and beside us. As we come together in a cooperative effort, sharing our
strengths and experiences, learning how to take advantage of new and existing technologies, and working towards creating an up-to-date professional business model and concept for our industry, this Network can help each of us evolve with the world. Individually, we are one business. Together, we can create a powerful industry.
We remain committed to that mission statement which is one of the reasons that we are still evolving.
2) Relevancy – It is important that we remain as relevant to your business as possible. There are several different segments in our industry — those who are just beginning, those who have established businesses and are still growing, and the big boys that you are all familiar with. Our goal is to provide resources for the first two segments but these resources are different for each. We want to be relevant to where you are in your business and will be evolving to do exactly that.
3) Improvement – Even when something is good, it could always be better. Sure it would be easier to leave things as the status quo. But we teach our children to always do their very best. We need to do the same. Listening to you and learning as we go along has given us the ability to see where we can improve things.
I think that you will find the changes exciting and valuable to you but, as in anything, some people have a hard time inciting and accepting change. Which is truly a shame. Change is inevitable. Those who embrace change usually succeed. Those who fight it often become extremely frustrated and eventually fade away.
One of my favorite books regarding change is called “Who Moved My Cheese” by Spencer Johnson, M.D. It is a delightful fable about two mice. It concisely illustrates the best ways to embrace change.
My own gift basket basket has also evolved through the years and I will be making more changes in it as well. The reasons are the same as above. How about your business? Are you constantly looking at it to see where changes are needed, how evolving technology requires change, and what you can and should do differently?
“He who rejects change is the architect of decay.
The only human institution which rejects
progress is the cemetery.”
~ Harold Wilson