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The Rising Demand for Custom-Made Gifts

By Niks Evalds on November 28th, 2017

Gift givers aim to please. But each year this gets more and more difficult, since new technologies and innovations flood us every day – seems like there’s just too much to choose from. But while gift options are seemingly endless, the goal remains the same – to find a gift that’s both useful and has an emotional value to the receiver. This, however, can be a tall order, unless your personalize.

Thanks to the digital era and the inevitable rise of ecommerce, customers have higher expectations from retailers and their products. Everything and everyone is online, so customer support must be swift, the range of products – immense, and the possibility to personalize a product is almost a must.

The ecommerce shopping industry is constantly changing as well to fit with the consumers’ needs, since they’re the ones who dictate exactly what they want, when they want it and how they want it. Even big players like Converse customize to attract new clients.

Clearly customizing works, especially when it comes to ecommerce. And this year for the first time, online spending is expected to exceed in-store spending. So let’s look at the latest news in the world of gift-giving and see what’s so attractive about custom-made gifts.

Gift-giving industry

The holiday season traditionally starts on Black Friday and lasts all the way into the new year. While the Christmas season definitely isn’t the only time when we buy and give gifts, statistics show that it’s when we spend the most money. People can go to extremes, sometimes even sacrificing their favorite pastimes just to buy better gifts.

How much we spend

The actual numbers are mind-boggling. In 2017, holiday retail sales are predicted to reach approximately 680.4 billion US dollars, which is a rise of at least 3.6% compared to the previous year.

Source: National Retail Federation

To put those numbers into perspective – according to Deloitte, in 2017 the average consumer is expected to spend $1,226 during the holiday shopping season, $430 of which is spent on gifts alone. The National Retail Federation has gone even higher, saying that people will spend $608 on gifts for families, friends and coworkers.

Source: National Retail Federation

Ecommerce, of course, doesn’t stay behind traditional stores, and the importance of online shopping is only gonna grow. Ecommerce sales this time last year reached  63.1 billion US dollars, and Adobe predicts the number to pass the $100 billion mark in 2017.

As you can see the numbers are quite impressive, but what is it that people are buying?

What we spend on

The answer to that question is actually quite easy – a little bit of everything. With so much money spent, it’s no wonder that the categories are extensive. There are, however, certain trends that have remained constant over time.

Gift cards remain a universal holiday gift-giving staple, and they make up almost 50% of the holiday gift sales. However, to some gift cards might seem impersonal, so they’re more appreciated in professional circles, where people don’t know each other on a personal level.

But when it comes to family and friends, people tend to choose more diverse gifts. Just take a look at the most popular categories below!

Source: Deloitte

And when it comes to personal gifts for friends and family, the predictions for this holiday season look very similar. Clothing and accessories take the top spot, and they’re closely followed by toys and hobbies.

Source: Deloitte

So it seems that there are as many opinions on to buy for Christmas as there are people. And there probably isn’t just one right answer, just like there isn’t the perfect present for everyone. In fact, there are so many imperfect gifts that the end of each holiday season brings a whole new problem.

The aftermath

At the moment everyone’s busy thinking about Green Monday, Free Shipping Day, Christmas, New Year’s Eve. But when all those days are over, we have National Returns Day in January.

National Returns Day mostly concerns retailers and shipping services. The term was introduced by the global shipping company UPS, and the actual date changes every year. In 2016 it was January 6, but in 2017 it was January 5. So what exactly happens on National Returns Day?

Well, as we saw before, people buy a lot of stuff. And unfortunately not all of it is appreciated or can be of use. So, as the title suggests, it’s the day of the year, when all the holiday hype is over and people return most items back to the retailers.

Source: UPS

UPS uses their accumulated data to conclude on which day they return the most packages to retailers. This year it was January 5th, when UPS returned 1.3 million packages. And that’s just one carrier in one day.

24% of all the returns in a year actually happen during the holiday season. And 11% of the goods bought during the holiday season get returned. These numbers have a particular effect on the ecommerce industry, since customers only see their orders after they’ve been delivered to their doorstep.

While National Returns Day probably won’t ever be proudly marked on a calendar, it definitely shows a very specific trend. And retailers have noticed that they have to be well-prepared not only for the sales, but also for the returns process.

Amazon, one of the best examples when it comes to returns on any day of the year, even has a separate policy for holiday season returns, stating that orders shipped from November 1 to December 31 can be sent back throughout January. And Amazon isn’t the only retail giant with such precautions in place.

How to avoid giving a gift that’s just going to be thrown into the boomerang returns process? Well, it seems that custom-made gifts might be the answer.

Custom-made gifts

Personalized gifts have been a big part of who we are for a long time now – just think of all those keychains and custom number plates.

Already in 2013 Forbes saw that letting customers create their own unique products is bound to become a huge trend in ecommerce. This is mostly thanks to the technological advancement and the opportunities it creates. Back then 40% of consumers said that they pay attention to those retailers that cater to their preferences and personalize their shopping experience.

So it’s clear that there’s a movement away from mass produced goods. Techavio predicts that by 2021 the personalized gift market will reach $31.63 billion, while in 2016 the value was only $20.46 billion. So customizing gifts isn’t just a passing trend anymore, and there are several reasons for this.

Why choose customized gifts?

The right gift requires a lot of work and a big investment, right? Well, actually, not really.

Gift-giving is often seen as a long and complicated process. First, you have to come up with an idea. Then you have to get it, and most of the time you end up spending more time and money than you intended. All in all, it can be a lot of hassle with no joy of gift-giving at all, and you might end up spending a lot of time, money, and patience trying to find that one perfect gift.

But as it turns out, no one really wants you to go through all that agonizing process. And custom-made gifts come as an answer.

When getting a customized gift, you find something useful and practical, but at the same time you make it your own. A t-shirt might seem like nothing special, but a t-shirt with a doodle your friend made in their notebook during college is something else entirely. You still have to put in some time and thought, but it’s less hassle, and more added value.

And as it turns out custom-made gifts aren’t the most expensive option. To go with the times, businesses have had to invest in technologies that allow item personalization. And now that the technologies are in place, the cost has gone down. Plus, with all the holiday season sales there are always great deals just in time for Christmas shopping.

What’s more, people admit that they would be likely to keep a personalized gift longer than they would a non-personalized gift. Moreover, the chances of seeing someone with the same exact item is considerably less. So by buying one-off presents you’re doing your best to break the holiday returns cycle.

So what are the options when it comes to custom-made gifts?

What to buy

Thanks to the demand for personalized gifts, the industry has had to find new ways to be creative and different from their competitors. And one of the things that customers want the most is variety.

Source: Inktale

Clothing and accessories  are among the most popular Christmas gifts in general, so it’s no wonder that ecommerce retailers offer many items in this category. After all,they’re practical, useful, and easy to customize.

The same goes for wall art, coffee mugs, and phone cases. These items aren’t particularly special on their own, but with a little imagination they become thoughtful gifts that bring joy to the receiver even when the holiday season is long gone.

Giving options makes customers more involved in the creation of the gift. For customers it means more fun and a wider array of options. And for businesses it means more loyalty and engagement. So it’s a win-win situation.

The perfect gift

Perhaps the perfect gift doesn’t even exist, but it’s clear that every holiday season people are out there looking for it. They spend a lot of time and money, but the result doesn’t always satisfy. However, with the rise of customized presents we’ve come one step closer to that mystical concept. Personalized gifts combine practicality, ease, and thoughtfulness – the perfect blend for the holiday season.

And there are many options out there, so something can be found for all tastes. Some of the most popular categories for Christmas gifts are now customizable, so you can transform a simple sweatshirt into a statement piece with just a few clicks.

Inktale is the perfect place to create something special for the people you want to surprise

Inktale is an online marketplace, where you can create and buy unique, custom-made products. We believe that turning your designs into products doesn’t have to be hard, so you can easily put your amazing ideas on t-shirts, coffee mugs, tote bags, phone cases, sweatshirts, and many more.

And whether you just want to buy something that other people have created or create your own unique design, be sure to follow our order deadlines! After all – the holiday season is upon us, so create a lovely surprise for you and your loved ones!

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