One of the things that tourists like to do when they travel either domestically or internationally is to buy souvenirs. They buy the souvenirs for themselves to remind them of their trip. Souvenirs are also used as giveaways by the tourist to their loved ones and acquaintances.
Now let’s analyze the two purposes of a souvenir:
Before the travel restrictions brought about by the global pandemic, many people including me loved to travel. This was made possible by the ever decreasing price of transport whether by air, land or sea.
But there is something that the cheapening of transport costs have not really solved for the average tourist: It still takes time and still a lot of money to be able to become a tourist. Most people can only afford to be tourist for a few weeks at most for the entire year.
And this is why souvenirs sell well even though plenty of tourists like to claim that they are being overcharged by souvenir sellers. Souvenirs remind the tourist about the time restricted and often expensive vacation or trip that they took.
This makes souvenirs very valuable. They are like the culmination of a person’s trip. I know of no visitor or tourist who hasn’t bought at least one souvenir of their trip or vacation. It’s like no vacation would be complete without at least one souvenir being bought.
It’s almost a universal custom. A lot of people from many countries buy souvenirs from their trip to give as giveaways to their friends and acquaintances. This custom is almost so universal that plenty of souvenir shops actually sell cheap souvenir items whose sole purpose is to be a giveaway item.
The behavior of tourists or visitors who visit a place is very understandable. The people who get to go on vacations or trips are considered lucky while those they leave behind are considered unlucky.
In short, souvenirs are one way for people to spread their luck or happiness from their vacation or trips. Cheap souvenir items whose sole purpose is to be giveaway items are one of the best sellers in souvenir shops because of this.
If you intend to open a souvenir shop and is unaware of this information, at least you have now learned that souvenirs are bought for two groups of people: the important ones and the unimportant ones.
Suffice to say, if you only sell expensive souvenir items, you are missing out on the cheap souvenir market which may be the bigger market. People would more than likely hesitate to buy expensive souvenirs, but would not even give a second thought to buy giveaway souvenirs.
It should come as no surprise that with the age of the internet and e-commerce, we would find souvenir shops with a global reach. I found two such online shops:
Site 1: worldwidegifts
Site 2: Happy Mall
I suggest you give at least a quick look at the two mentioned websites as they can give you a valuable insight on how global the souvenir market has already become and would continue to become.
I can understand the appeal of these souvenir shops especially in this time of the pandemic where people are literally locked in their own homes. But besides being not able to travel, another reason for the existence of these global souvenir shops maybe be the time or financial restriction of a person.
A person may have the money but have no time to travel or vice versa. In this case, these groups of people make do with souvenirs. One reason could also be out of practicality. A person may only want the souvenir from a country but not visit the country itself.
Most people identify a souvenir as decorative objects that remind a person about a place that they have visited. A wristband of a tourist spot can serve a dual purpose for example, it could serve as a ticket and a souvenir at the same time.
But souvenirs can also be books, food, or anything that relates to a certain place. As such, souvenirs can be anything, even a piece of rock or a piece of candy. I hope this clarifies the meaning of a souvenir because it is important to anyone who wishes to get involved in the souvenir business.
Let us use me as an example. I listen to old Japanese music even though I am not a Japanese myself. If you must know, in Japan even to this day, many Japanese digital medias are still sold in CDs and DVDs.
The only way I can reliably listen to old Japanese music would be to listen to the ones being uploaded in YouTube. This is because many old Japanese artists still refuse to make their music available in streaming platforms.
I also like Japanese Anime and wooden Japanese souvenirs. In short, I like a lot of things Japanese although I don’t really want to go to Japan for the trouble, but souvenirs are not really a strong point of e-commerce sites.
When I used to visit brick and mortar souvenir shops in two countries namely the Philippines and Australia, I can already see decorative objects, fashion items like bags, food and even music CDs being sold in these souvenir shops.
The online global souvenir shops are basically doing the same thing but on a global scale. They do not only sell souvenirs from their own country but of other countries as well. This is not an easy thing to organize.
I do not believe that a truly global brick and mortar souvenir shop exists. Most likely, these online global souvenir shops have partners from other countries who supply their country’s respective souvenir items and may even ship it direct to the buyers.
As we can see, the business is clearly logistics based and not really product based although the souvenir shops concentrate on traditional souvenir products. Clearly, these global souvenir shops are targeting specific customers who are maybe those with the tourist mindset.
But what could be the advantage of these global souvenir shops from the actual souvenir shops located in the actual country that a person has visited? Is there a real use these global souvenir shops are fulfilling?
One obvious problems with brick and mortar souvenir shops is that they only get to sell what is actually stocked in their shops. A tourist may find the selection in the souvenir shop limiting and might not buy anything.
Compare this to an online souvenir shop which can offer virtually an unlimited number of souvenirs without having to stock them. It is entirely possible that the souvenirs these online souvenir shops are offering are in another state or even another country.
As can be seen, these online souvenir shops are not really targeting tourists. They are really targeting souvenir buyers and even collectors. This must be the reason why online global souvenir shops exist, they target souvenir buyers and collectors and not necessarily tourists.
I can remember that when I was living in Australia, there are many Chinese shops in my suburb that sell decorative items from other countries. Of course, I know that they are all made in China, but the important thing is that these Asian sellers like to market them as souvenirs coming from many countries.
I also know that Australian souvenirs are basically not being made in Australia and China itself might have already captured the manufacturing market for souvenirs. This got me thinking a lot.
If my assumption is correct, then the logistics question would have been answered already. All that a global souvenir shop needs to do is to establish connections with Chinese souvenir manufacturers and/or sellers.
With all the souvenirs from different countries now being manufactured and sold in China, the cost of opening a global souvenir shop is significantly reduced and simplified. And after doing some quick searches in the Chinese e-commerce site Alibaba, my suspicions were confirmed.
All I did was to type such simple product search keywords as: “Australian Souvenirs” and I was not only shown by Alibaba many Chinese made Australian souvenirs, but also souvenirs from other countries.
I have seen Chinese made souvenirs for countries like, Hong Kong, Italy, Saudi Arabia, Switzerland, America and so on. It is therefore safe to assume that Chinese companies are making the souvenirs for many other countries.
This might seem disheartening for any patriot of any country if even your souvenirs are already being made in China, but consider also the logistical advantage of having one source for most of the souvenirs of many countries.
We have established already that online souvenir buyers are most likely not tourists but are souvenir collectors. We have also established that there is a very high likelihood that almost all souvenirs from all countries are being made in China.
This firmly establishes my assumption that a global online souvenir shops is really not much about the product but is about the logistics itself, especially concerning global logistics. The buyer who is a collector of souvenirs from all around the globe uses a global online shop.
This global shop then sources the souvenirs the buyer wants to buy from their Chinese suppliers. It is a simple logistics matter and not a complex one where the online shops sources their products from different suppliers located in different countries.
With this logistical system, a global online souvenir shop can technically offer any product that is being manufactured in China. This means that not only are shipping and delivery costs minimized, but the operation itself is simplified.
Going back to my interests in Japanese items, I found that I can even buy Japanese wooden statues and kimonos in Alibaba. This is how much you can scale up your global online souvenir business by using China as your product manufacturer and supplier.
Contrary to what you might think, sourcing products for your online global souvenir shop doesn’t entail that you have to establish supplier connections with the different souvenir makers in other countries.
Your business model could be as simple as sourcing all your products from China which is the undisputed manufacturing hub of the world. Not only will your logistics cost be minimized, it would also be simplified.
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