Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Business Idea - Automate Sending Birthday Gifts

My wife and I don't have any kids so far but we go to (on average) one birthday party of our friends' kids every month. I am assuming for couples with kids this number would be at least 2 to 3. Now with every party, one needs to shop for a gift. You drive to a store, you try to find a gift suited for kid's age in the budget you set up.... moreover, we are not even sure which toys are "most popular" for kids of a particular age group. In all, I feel its the most tedious part of going to a party. I realize that for some people it may be a joy shopping for gifts but I suspect it will be a small percentage of gift shoppers. I verified the "tedious" nature of this task with a couples with kids. So here's a business idea...

How about you get a gift (nicely wrapped) "automatically selected and shipped" at your house a couple or so days before you have to go the birthday party? No driving to shops and hassle of finding something in your budget!

Here's one suggested way on how it could work:

1. Let's say an online toy vendor (amazon?) starts this "free" service in which you enroll.
2. You provide logistics information: shipping address, credit card, and a default budget for gifts.
3. Amazon also provides an online calendar. 
4. Anytime you are invited to a birthday party, you add an event on the calendar which includes date of event, sex and age of birthday kid. You may also optionally set a different budget for that kid (let's say he/she is the kid of your best friend etc.)
5. Amazon figures out the "most popular" toy for the kid in that age range and ships it to you a few days before the party. This is the step that saves you a lot of trouble!
6. Since the calendar is stored with Amazon, it already has the data populated for the next year. Voila!

I think this presents significant value proposition for both end customers and Amazon and here is how:

 . creates brand stickiness
 . allows them to capture a "new" market segment (parents who otherwise would have shopped at a local store for a gift)

End customers: 
  . makes their life easy AT NO ADDED COST! 
  . Considering amazon does not charge state tax (for california at least for now...though this could change in future) at least customers in California enjoy a cool ~10% discount.

Thoughts/comments welcome... I am most curious to know if birthday gift shopping is a hassle or not for you. 



Anand Maheshwari said...

i can't agree with you more concerning the birthday gifts selection hassle for kids.

Looks like a plausible solution, though kids may end up getting the same gifts if the most popular gift falls in the same category and budget... the probability seems a tad higher.

Sandeep said...

Thanks for your comments Anand! Someone else also brought up the same issue... I think this could be resolved by requiring user to enter the name of parents of the kid for whom the gift is being sought. Given we have (city name, date, kid name, parent name) it can help the vendor to ensure that same gifts are not being sent to the same kid. It is not entirely fool proof but close enough...