Customer Stories, E-Commerce, Food & Beverage

Vancouver Island Gift Basket Co.: Transforming their Offering in the Nick of Time

Gift basket businesses have been around since the 1970s. But now, with e-commerce and COVID-19 driving the popularity of gift delivery to new heights, the “gift basket” has a whole new identity. Fortunately, Vancouver Island Gift Basket is one company that capitalized on the opportunities inherent to this rapidly changing world.

In 2018, Gigi’s Gift Creations purchased Vancouver Island Gift Baskets. At the time, the company offered a very traditional basket. Think: cellophane, big bows, and a basket heaping with gifts. But as the business grew, so did the need for a more shippable product. A basket is hard to ship, involves high-cost supplies, and requires a lot of labour and space to assemble.

Although the Vancouver Island Gift Basket team didn’t know it, there was another factor emerging that would make this “more shippable option” timely. COVID-19 has meant the exponential growth of e-commerce, as families and friends searched for ways to connect.

Because Vancouver Island Gift Basket and Great Little Box Company/Ideon Packaging (GLBC) collaborated on a gift box in 2015, they were ready when they needed to be. As a result, Vancouver Island Gift Basket has seen a steady increase in sales, particularly online. Their growth has been steep enough that this formerly home-based business is now searching for commercial space. Next stop: expansion into the broader Canadian market.

Vancouver Island Gift Basket Co.: Transforming their Offering in the Nick of Time
Vancouver Island Gift Basket Co.: Transforming their Offering in the Nick of Time

The Situation

 Vancouver Island Gift Baskets’ former business model of creating, selling, and shipping actual gift baskets left something to be desired. The large, stuffed, cellophane-wrapped baskets required a lot of space and labour time to assemble. They were also difficult to ship. In a small, home-based business, these limitations might be acceptable. But since transferring to new owners, the company was growing. And these constraints weren’t enabling that growth to happen easily.

The Solution

By bringing Great Little Box Company on board in 2019, Vancouver Island Gift Baskets was able to execute the solution they had in mind: gift boxes. In a marketplace redefined by e-commerce, the gift box is a scalable solution for growing businesses in the gift industry.

The two teams created a gift box that builds the brand by featuring gifts as well as prints celebrating Vancouver Island. This beautifully printed box celebrates the incredibly special part of the world that the company hails from. It showcases artwork inspired by nautical maps and hand-drawn by a local artist. Inside, recipients find a curation of foods from Vancouver Island Artisans who are growing the local gourmet food movement.

The box is available in three sizes, and in various themes. It’s easy and fast to order. In fact, if a customer orders first thing in the morning it can be delivered in the Victoria Area that same afternoon.  Orders outside the Victoria area are shipped via Canada Post.

Of course, ultimately, the box was not only a solution to Vancouver Gift Basket’s pre-COVID growth issues. It was a solution to a scenario that nobody saw coming. Once the pandemic hit, the boxes took off in a big way. They delivered joy and connection in lieu of family gatherings that couldn’t happen. If loved ones couldn’t come to Vancouver Island, the island could come to them. Corporate clients also flocked to the new offering. The customer base grew in all directions.

The Result

 GLBC’s work with Vancouver Island Gift Basket helped the company to:

  • Scale without constraints: the gift box was a “more shippable solution” that enabled the company to realize its e-commerce potential
  • Build its brand: the Vancouver Island branding allowed the company to better express its special, local-focused identity

In a few short years, Vancouver Island Gift Basket has transformed itself from a highly constrained home-based business into an emerging e-commerce player. By being ready with the right offering for the times, they’ve experienced rapid and sustainable growth. Nowadays, sales are steady year-round—and in the three weeks before Christmas, they prepare as many boxes as they do the entire 11 months prior. Next up is commercial space and expansion into the national market.

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