No More Lame Fruit Baskets from Your Boss: Wantful Goes Corporate

By Nathaniel Mott , written on October 1, 2012

From The News Desk

The holidays are rough. There's a reason why everyone used to believe that suicide rates spiked around Christmas – waiting in line at whichever store happens to be selling the gift you absolutely "have" to get is enough to make even the most stable person contemplate offing themselves. Now imagine that instead of buying for a few family members you have to try and find a gift for hundreds or thousands of employees. Bleak, huh?

In order to avoid this nightmare, many companies give their employees lackluster gifts. Wantful, a gift-giving service launched earlier this year, wants to help solve this problem with Wantful Corporate, an evolution of its consumer-facing service aimed squarely at businesses.

When I covered Wantful earlier this year, I wrote that the service "acts as a modern throwback to that feeling of walking into the living room and spotting a mountain of presents surrounding the Christmas tree." Wantful users can create a "book" of products that the intended recipient can peruse and select their own gift from. The service encourages active participation in the giving process, a marked change from passively handing over another gift card.

Of course, giving a gift might be a company's way of copping-out... Given the choice between a decent holiday bonus or even a thoughtful gift, I imagine most people would choose the bonus. On the happiness scale, Wantful sits between getting a company calendar and getting cash. Companies may spend more for a Wantful gift than they would on a bonus, but it's almost guaranteed to be cheaper than the other option.

Though the service has been primarily marketed to consumers since its inception, CEO John Poisson says that corporate gift-giving represented 25 percent of Wantful's business last month. The launch of Wantful Corporate is less about entering a new product category and more about catering to a clientele that was already using the service to meet its needs. Businesses often give gifts every year, Poisson says, but these are often gifts "that people really appreciate the gesture of, but that nobody really wants."

In effect, Wantful's argument is that a gift shouldn't be judged based on the person giving it – a poor gift is a poor gift, whether it comes from an employer or a spouse. By drawing from the same product database as the consumer-facing side of the service, Poisson says that corporations will be able to give gifts that employees would actually enjoy. The main difference between the Wantful for consumers and Wantful Corporate is Concierge, a service that provides businesses with a direct line to Wantful employees.

Poisson says that he expects Wantful Corporate to represent a "significant portion" of Wantful's income this year, especially with the holidays right around the corner. The service has been developed through Wantful's revenues and the $5.5 million Series A it raised earlier this year, and Poisson says that there are no plans to raise any funding in the short term.

So don't be surprised if you're presented with a Wantful booklet this holiday season. The company is making a strong push to become the gift-giving service, whether you're a stressed-out boyfriend that doesn't want to choose the wrong gift or a business looking to hand out more than a fruit basket and a company pen this year.