How to start a gift certificate business

Over the past few years, gift certificates have become increasingly popular in our country. Almost all Western brands and many Russian companies actively offer them to their customers. And the development potential of this market is unlimited – in the West, gift certificates account for up to 50% of all gifts. It is not surprising that such demand could not but cause the emergence of a new business, namely, centralized stores selling gift certificates from various chains.

So what does it take to start a similar business from scratch and how much can you earn?

Let’s start with investments. According to experts – they will not need so much. Since gift certificate stores traditionally conduct their main business online, the first thing you need is a website.

As always, I urge you – if you’re on a tight budget – to forget about professional web design studios – there are many free engines and thousands of great templates. 

If you need an online store engine with built-in systems for accepting electronic payments and generating bank payments – which in this case is certainly preferable – you can easily find high-quality turnkey shells for online stores. The cost of such engines is low – from 8,000 rubles. At the same time, these online stores have all the functions you need to run a full-fledged business on the Internet.

Of course, this store will still need to be promoted and filled with information about the product. And you can handle both on your own. And if there are no problems with filling, then the book of the Russian search engine optimization guru Igor Ashmanov “Optimization and website promotion in search engines” and the Yandex and Google contextual advertising service will provide you with invaluable assistance in the promotion.

Of course, offline advertising should not be neglected either – especially if you rely heavily on the local market and the funds allow.

In principle, this is enough to start. You will hire an office and staff when the flow of orders (and, as a result, your income) will be quite stable, but for now, you can handle the acceptance of the order and its delivery to customers yourself.

Ideally, the staff is of course needed. A stable working store on an ongoing basis will need a person who will support the online store, work with customers, take orders, and, of course, several couriers deliver ordered gift certificates to recipients.

As you can see, nothing complicated. Although no. There is still a difficulty – to agree with the maximum number of retail chains on the distribution of their gift certificates. True, in the conditions of the crisis and a decrease in consumer activity, they have become much more accommodating, and therefore there should not be any special problems with concluding agreements even with large brands.

About clients. More than half of gift certificate buyers are women under 40. As a result, and in demand, I mainly use certificates for the services of photo studios, boutiques, restaurants, and various courses.

Seasonality in this business is also present and traditionally coincides with major holidays: New Year, February 23, and March 8. The most popular are certificates worth up to 5,000 rubles.

In the income statement. As a rule, the income of a store selling gift certificates ranges from 5 to 20% of the face value. At the same time, no one prevents you from making a markup, which, however, is unlikely to be met with a bang by the market.

Experts estimate the profitability of the business at 40%. As you can see, this business is quite simple and quite profitable. But most importantly, the market of specialized gift certificate stores, despite its huge growth potential, is still in its infancy, which means that even a beginner will be able to enter it and gain a foothold (!) So, gentlemen-entrepreneurs, do not waste time!