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Gift shop

How to Run a Gift Shop

If you're planning on buying a gift shop, read this and discover how best to run it!

South Africa’s retail landscape is continuing to grow, with close to three million square metres of new shopping space in the pipeline.

As a gift shop owner, you might struggle to stay afloat as competition grows and entrepreneurs face even more pressure from online retail rivalry. However, there are the following steps you can take to keep your turnover figures high and attract more customers to your store.

Building a web presence

A website will help to boost sales and attract shoppers across the country.

Hiring a photographer to take some good quality photos or contacting your suppliers for high-resolution images will make your website visually engaging as it can be.

If you plan to manage your own website, choose a hosting provider that you feel comfortable using.

It may be cost-efficient to open an account with a global courier company, depending on the number of sales you receive. You could offer your online customers membership benefits; email marketing and advertising promotions on social media will help attract extra business.

Customer services

South Africa’s retail sector is fiercely competitive; there are more than 25 million square metres of retail space and in excess of 2,000 existing shopping centres. You need to build a rapport with your customers, especially regulars, to keep them coming back to your store.

Gift shop

Your employees should be trained to provide excellent customer service and be well-informed on the stock you sell. Make a note of what regular clients buy so you can suggest other items tailored to their taste; it will make your customers feel more valued. For example, many of your customers in the area may be young couples looking for funny or joke gifts for each other, this would mean including more stock tailored to them.

You should have a clear idea of who your typical customer is, as well as the average demographic of your local area. If you benefit from being in a tourist-heavy location, you should stock culturally inspired gifts and souvenirs that are local and unique.

Be unique

Offering personalised gifts is something retail businesses offer worldwide so it can be hard to compete.

Alternatively, contact local craft workers or artists and feature their handcrafted items in your store; it will also help to boost the economy of your local community.

Try to find a USP that makes your gift shop stand out from all the others. Consider having a customer membership scheme, or sell gifts that are made from repurposed materials, or designing the interior of your shop with pallets; be bold and your store will get more notice.

Window displays are a great way to entice potential customers into your store, create seasonal displays that showcase new stock; the more creative you can be the better. Brainstorm ideas with your team to get extra inspiration to make staff feel more involved.

Manage stock

Stock control is an essential part of the daily running of a gift shop; you need to keep track of what items are selling well and which are being left on the shelves. Make sure your mark-up on items is high enough to leave you a profit, but not so costly that you put customers off.


The size of your storeroom will determine the amount of stock you can order in at once; larger orders often mean better deals, but you need to make sure you have big enough stockroom. Your stock needs to be easy to find, especially if your selling a lot of items online.

As your business grows, you will need to appoint a manager who can sign off for deliveries, manage stock inventory and help oversee daily operations. Delegate responsibilities to your store manager and employees so your time can be spent handling more important tasks.

Krystena Griffin

About the author

Krystena Griffin writes for all titles in the Dynamis stable including, and as well as other industry publications.