If I’m being honest, I’m probably exactly the kind of consumer that many merchants are looking for. Not only am I personally interested in buying products for myself and the people around me, but I also thoroughly enjoy sharing great deals or cool new products I’ve discovered with my friends and family. And even beyond that—I go out of my way to find and search for product ideas that haven’t been directly marketed to me through ad campaigns.
I’m by no means an “influencer” in the modern sense—but within my personal network I’ve certainly garnered a certain reputation, and that’s exactly why social media and influencers have become such an integral part of today’s marketing landscape.
As the holidays draw near, ‘tis the season to be #influenced. So I’ve collected my own personal repertoire of how and where to find last-minute gift inspiration. And on the merchant side—how to inspire your favourite converting customers wherever they’re looking.
Where to source inspiration
My personal process for buying gifts consists of three steps:
- Getting inspired
- Finding the best sources to purchase from
- And of course, the final step of confirming payment
Sourcing ideas for last-minute gifts is all about having easy access to an array of options, whether they’re realistic or more of a dream. The thought train starts running and suddenly you’re in step two after some internal filtering of what you can actually buy within a reasonable budget and timeframe.
So that’s why I view step one—getting inspired—like an open-concept house. You just need all of your ideas out in the open so you can source the right ideas for all the people on your list.
Social media for eye candy
The first room in the house? Social media of course.
Pinterest, Instagram, Tiktok, and YouTube—any form of social media where you can easily see a visual representation of gift ideas is likely the easiest place to start. As a millennial, I’m allowed to say that now is indeed still the era of creating Pinterest mood boards for feelings and ideas that you can make up words for and suddenly be a trendsetter. This is the age of finding gifts based on aesthetic styles like “cottagecore” and “coastal grandma.”
Any other social media that feeds your visual senses can do exactly that as well. With the advancement of algorithms and technology, having access to inspiration for a specific aesthetic style or lifestyle is easier than ever.
For merchants, this means that advertising in these places should focus on attention-grabbing content to avoid getting lost in the doomscroll. Researching what’s performing well and getting pushed out in the current algorithm, with an emphasis on quick impact, will help you stand out a little sweeter in the sea of eye candy.
Marketplaces for options
It seems that more frequently, “shopping small” and “supporting local” are just marketing buzzwords. Regardless of which way you lean on the spectrum of big business versus small business, there’s probably a marketplace for that.
For last-minute shoppers, however, you’re likely more inclined to turn to the big guys.
Marketplaces like Amazon are a popular choice, particularly if you’re looking for easy, fast, and convenient. It’s not necessarily the cheapest place to find things anymore, though, and a lot of times you’ll actually be buying from drop shippers when you start looking past well-known brands and companies and into more unique options.
On the other end, marketplaces like Etsy exist. The downsides are the opposite: Shipping might take longer and also cost more than the product itself, so it’s often not very convenient for last-minute shopping. That being said, you will probably find more interesting and unique gifts.
For direct-to-consumer merchants, this means shopping directly from your storefront should offer similar or comparable options for shipping, budget, and timing to stay competitive.
This can be a combination of marketing earlier to your customers to ensure things ship before the holidays, or partnering with fulfillment providers that can do that job for you during the holiday rush. And while you often can’t sacrifice on pricing, you can leverage the superior quality and small-business personalization that can’t be bought.
Designated websites & communities for the detailed gift giver
Websites like Wirecutter that are dedicated specifically to product reviews and guides are a no-brainer choice for sourcing inspiration. They’re wordier than sourcing last minute gift ideas from social media, but that’s often an advantage for a specific kind of buyer.
Some consumers are looking for more than just an idea, they also want the best idea—a gift to rule them all, if I may. Places like these do a good job of thinking for you and then placing the thoughts nicely onto a list with options on where to actually buy the corresponding products.
And then you’ll come across communities like Reddit. The benefit to sourcing inspiration from a community forum is that you can ask a general question of what you’re looking for and people will sometimes respond with good ideas. And if they aren’t great ideas, at least it takes the place of asking your friends and family for their opinions for those who aren’t particularly fond of those conversations.
For merchants, this emphasizes that brand presence and meeting your customers where they shop is crucial.
The almighty search for the uncertain
If all else fails, a quick google search will show you the path…to the best search-engine optimized options.
What does this mean for merchants? Optimize your storefront for search engines and invest in content marketing.
Some advice for the journey
For the last-minute gift shopping journey, there are some doors in the house you probably want to keep closed.
Often, cheaper is not better. For the people in your life that you’re gifting for, this is certainly something to consider in the gifting experience. Is having a cheaply made gift that literally falls apart under the weight of disappointment better than a handwritten card with a tracking number for a gift you ordered a little too late? You be the judge.
Budget & shipping
Sourcing inspiration is mostly fun because your imagination can run wild and free. But when it comes to actually buying, budgeting for both the product itself and shipping costs are important in the grand scheme of things. With last minute shopping you should expect to pay a premium for not ordering in advance, especially when it comes to shipping.
And maybe the most important factor of all—timing. If you’re reading this blog right now, that point is actually up for debate. But even last-minute shoppers can find their way around the clock, so be cautious of possible delays due to processing times and shipping estimates.
The end of the tour
Whether you’re shopping last minute or not, sourcing inspiration is normally step one for any gift-giving journey. And for merchants, this means marketing leading up to and in the weeks before holidays is integral to capturing converting customers when it counts. Get personal and find out where your ideal customers are, when they’re shopping, and why they’re doing so to offer laser-focused offers and campaigns. After all, home is where the heart is.
 Direct-to-consumer (Recharge ecommerce glossary)
 How to leverage content marketing in ecommerce (Recap Youtube video)