16 Gourmet Basket
Jale Mills (43), Stuart Mills (49)
- Head Office
Retail and consumer products
Stuart and Jale Mills are the founders of online hamper retailer Gourmet Baskets, an eight-year-old business that has exploded in recent years alongside the growing popularity of online shopping and corporate gifting.
Generating over $3.7 million in revenue for 2017-18, a 118% increase in sales over the last three years has earned them the 18th spot on this year’s Smart50 list.
Online gifting businesses are quite prevalent these days, but eight years ago the market was still relatively underdeveloped, presenting an opportunity for the Mills, who were looking for a change of pace after having their first son.
The pair got more than they bargained for though, and before long were working around the clock on their new business, particularly doing the Christmas rush period.
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But it was about to pay off. Having prioritised everything from product development to SEO optimisation in the early years, the Mills figured out if they were going to appeal to lucrative corporate clients they needed to up their game.
“We learnt that poor website design means poor conversions, that a small range also reduces conversions, and that image presentation is king,” Stuart says.
“We only realised this after we took the brave move to innovate our gift photography, bring in a specialist and go against the norm with a grey mottled tin background, side lighting and larger hi-res images.
“Boom! Sales started to rapidly rise, as we were seen as the ‘most professional’ in the industry,” he recalls.
Thanks to attention from clients such as Commonwealth Bank, Mirvac and Austereo, Gourmet Baskets experienced huge growth, generating $1 million in annual revenue by 2014.
The momentum has continued, with sales up to $3.7 million in 2017-18, ahead of plans to move into physical retail.
“This [physical retail shift] is nearly complete — our brand in their stores — resulting in a massive increase in Gourmet Basket brand awareness in the community (for very little cost),” Stuart says.