The next great small business battle may come wrapped in a bow

The next great business battle may come wrapped in a bow or packed in a box.

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Consumers and businesses made gift basket sales a $20 billion business in 2018 and the industry is getting bigger. Huge brands such as Amazon, Harry & David, and Hickory Farms are major players, but start-ups like Foody Direct and GiftBasket.com are making headway.

And Giftbasket.com, besides having a search-ready web address, also just received a big gift of its own.

The online gifting website announced it’s raised capital from South African-based investment company Safika. While the exact amount of funding was not disclosed, the company's chief executive officer, Eric Shenker, told FOX Business Safika is now the company’s largest shareholder.

Shenker believes the new funding will help transform the online retailer into a global platform: “We see this as an opportunity to take a small company, apply some intellectual capital, apply some real capital and change it from a gift-basket company to a gifting-solutions company.”

That means competing directly with publicly traded names like 1-800-Flowers.com. And with its refined product offerings, new website and enhanced filter and search engine optimization features, Shenker thinks GiftBasket.com can grow quickly.

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“This is a unique opportunity to not only leverage our successes but transform into a global-gifting platform," he said, where the company is “going to upgrade the quality of offerings we were already excited about. That’s just one of the things this funding will allow us to do.”

Still, more competition may be on the way as online ordering has made entry into the field easier. Well-known greeting-card company Hallmark, for example, has jumped in with candy and food items, as well as drink mixes.

David Sprinkle, research director for Packaged Facts, a consumer market intelligence firm, in talking about his company's 2018 report, said of the sector competition, "Food gifting marketers need to continue inventing and reinventing food gifts and to keep a watchful eye for ways to broaden holiday-related purchase rationales."