E-commerce for Father’s Day: Gifts for Blokes Q&A

This Father’s Day, Australians are expected to spend more than $676.5 million on gifts for their dads. Online store Gifts for Blokes’ founder and owner Heather Winchcomb has tips on how e-commerce retailers can make the most of seasonal opportunities.

Finding interesting men’s gifts can sometimes be a struggle. Among the socks and pens and coffee cups, it takes a bit of thinking outside the square to find something they’ll really love. Enter Gifts for Blokes, a niche online store specialising in gifts for men, which since 2007 has been providing unique solutions to Father’s Day and Christmas shopping woes.

How did the idea for Gifts for Blokes come about?

“Would you believe, it was from stressed-out friends at Christmas. A group of us was having a pre-Christmas catch-up, and the main problem we were discussing was finding gifts for men. Most of them were at the point of resorting to vouchers, something which they didn’t really want to do, and someone said there should be somewhere they could get men’s gifts all in one place instead of finding the odd gift in several different stores. As I was working in the web design industry at the time, one of my friends suggested that I should build a website and just sell men’s gifts. I laughed it off at the time, but the thought stayed with me. After some investigation, Gifts for Blokes was born.”

What kind of growth have you experienced?

“The first year was slow – we were streamlining systems and working on the product range – and seven years ago online shopping was really in its infancy. We have subsequently experienced double-digit growth every year since 2007.”

How have you marketed the business?

“We use a variety of mediums, including Google AdWords and traditional print media. We are active on various social media platforms and do our own in-house promotions to keep it interesting for everyone. We also do some PR throughout the year.”

How does your marketing activity change in the lead-up to Father’s Day?

“Generally, we increase what we normally do during the year. For marketing online, we target keywords specific to Father’s Day and talk about Father’s Day on our various social media platforms. We also do some specific print advertising and PR for Father’s Day.”

Why did you choose SecurePay for your payment gateway?

“Our Australia Post representative suggested it a few years ago, but at the time our website was not flexible enough to integrate it. Last year, we totally rebuilt the website and investigated our options for payment gateways – and SecurePay won. It was so simple to integrate into our new website. Plus, the pricing structure was very good and easy to understand with no grey areas.”

What have been the benefits of using SecurePay?

“Stress-free payments. SecurePay is not only hassle-free for us, but also for our customers. We like the dashboard and reporting that it offers and the fact that credit card payments are credited to our bank account on a daily basis.”

Top tips for a successful online store

Small businesses that rely heavily on seasonality opportunities need a strategy in place to make the most of these times. Heather Winchcomb has learnt three lessons that have helped Gifts for Blokes flourish.

1. Think about what the customer wants. “When I started Gifts for Blokes, I put myself in customers’ shoes and thought about what I would like if I was a customer. I was quite firm about despatching within approximately 24 hours (Monday to Friday) – even at really busy times such as Father’s Day and Christmas – and also making sure everything was packed well to avoid damage in transit. Plus, we use Australia Post’s eParcel, so that all parcels are trackable.”

2. Be prepared. “We don’t have any real downtime during the year, but we are always planning for our busiest time, which is August to December. We plan our buying in advance and make sure stock, staff and packaging are ready for the busy season. Whether we are busy or flat out, we stick to the same routine and procedures every day, so even at the busiest times everything runs smoothly – just at a faster pace.”

3. Stock a range of products. “Our customers love the extensive range of gifts that we have and the way we think outside the box when it comes to purchasing stock. We strive to fill a niche as a one-stop shop for men’s gifts, so we are constantly seeking out new and interesting products.”

Top 5 Father’s Day gift ideas

Gifts for Blokes predicts the following gifts will be a big hit for fathers this year:

1. Pocket Pillow Mates. This is a cushion you flip over and there are insulated pockets for dad’s favourite beverage and the remote control.

2. Interview journals. These are a sellout every Father’s Day and are a way to record stories and memories from dad’s and grandpa’s life. Many of our customers have said they will become family heirlooms.

3. Photo frames. Ideal for that family portrait on the desk or any of dad’s favourite photos.

4. Doctor Who merchandise. With the next instalment of the new series of Doctor Who starting in August, if your dad is a fan, it’s perfect timing to give him something related to the TV series – maybe a TARDIS for his spare coins, a stress ball, a fourth doctor scarf or a Doctor Who game.

5. BBQ Clongs. Designed by Aussie company Dreamfarm, these BBQ tongs sit up off the bench (so there’s no mess) and can be opened and closed using one hand.

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