Thursday, 8 September 2011

Why Buy Your Greeting Cards Online?

Something I’ve been thinking about a lot recently is: Why would anyone buy greeting cards online?

There are plenty of reasons NOT to, especially when you have numerous handy greeting card shops locally.

  • If you are looking to buy just one card, the shipping costs are out of all proportion to the cost of the card.
  • You will have to think in advance as your purchase will not be in your possession instantly.
  • And what if the quality is poor – many people like to hold a greeting card in their hand before deciding to buy it.

But nevertheless, people do buy greeting cards online, more maybe in the US but other countries are catching up. Greeting card websites abound and some of them are well established and very successful.

So why would anyone who has plenty of local outlets for greeting cards choose to order them online?

The first thing that sprang to my mind was that they might be housebound. I knew a couple where the wife was practically housebound and her husband did the shopping. When it came to choosing a birthday card for their daughter, he struck lucky and came home with a card that his wife really liked. She looked up the name of the artist on the internet, found her website and it all continued from there ...

Another reason could simply be that you don’t like shopping and going into a card shop is something you would rather avoid. I think this probably applies to quite a lot of men – I know my son would fall into this category!

But it was one of my daughters who gave me the biggest clue. She normally buys her greeting cards when she’s shopping in town but she told me that if she were looking for something very specific, then she would turn to the internet to provide.

This seems to be borne out by my online card sales. A very high percentage are age-specific, person-specific – or both! The very detailed ‘categories’ offered through Greeting Card Universe baffled me at first because many of them seemed so obscure!  Just look at them here!  No ordinary greeting card shop in the High Street could carry all those categories and subcategories. But of course with print-on-demand, the online stores don’t need to!

Which leads to a further reason why customers would turn to the internet for their card-buying. Personalisation!

Personalisation – or Customisation! – seems to be the flavour of our times! Once it was the prerogative of the wealthy to have custom-made suits and dresses, while the rest of us made do with ‘off-the-peg’. Now, with the benefit of technological advances, the ‘luxury’ of a one-off greeting card, created to our own specification is available to us all!

So how does all this affect us as we design our greeting cards?

It seems to me that there are two ways we can go;

1. Establish your reputation offline, get your cards selling in shops across the country, or even further afield! And then hope to pick up some extra sales from your website. Here are three of my favourite UK designers who have done just that:

2. Make your designs ever more specific! Birthday cards that age-, name-, family relation-specific, Get Well cards for every conceivable illness or procedure, Thank You and Good Luck cards for a variety of occasions, greeting cards for less known religious festivals and so on...

3. Taking that one step further - finding a good ‘niche’ will undoubtedly increase your sales. Greeting cards (and other printed items like T-shirts) that seem to do very well are often based on pet photos, especially if the pet is a very specific breed!

Offline, in our local shops, my ‘blank inside’, ‘any occasion’ greeting cards, based on my pastel paintings do well. But online they tend to sit there, gathering virtual dust. 

The nearest I’ve come to finding my online and offline ‘niche’ is to make cards suitable for men, as friends have told me how difficult it can be to find anything suitable that isn’t full of unwanted innuendo! And, narrowing it down further, the fact that my grandsons are beginning to reach the teenage years has catapulted me into tackling that difficult and not very well-served category, cards for teenage boys!

Now I’m wondering whether it would be worth concocting a Folk Art style card design for a Welsh Step-Uncle, who is crazy about Tibetan Terriers,with a 53rd Birthday on Valentine’s Day?


Robin said...

Great post, Judy. Had to laugh at the last line :)

Judy Adamson said...

Thank you, Robin.

Glad it made you laugh - I doubt if anyone who isn't familiar with Greeting Card Universe would 'get it'!

Red Rose Digital Art said...

You're absolutely right about how differently people choose greeting cards in "bricks and mortar" shops and on-line. When I used to buy greeting cards in the shops, I always chose an art card of some sort that was blank inside. My blank cards at GCU languish and the same images on cards aimed at a specific event or person sell.

I also laughed at the last line - are you going to design one? :-)

Country Mouse Studio said...

Sounds like a good one, I can empathize with your frustration :O)

Judy Adamson said...

Thank you both for your comments - and no, I don't think I'll make one of those cards because I think that would stretch even GCU category system, knowing which aspect has priority etc :)

art2cee2 said...

I think the reason people buy online is because they can't go into a card shop in their pajamas! They can sit in front of a computer with no an holey robe and slippers and buy with abandon. And anything, gifts, cards etc. can be difficult for men and thinking to focus on this unfocused on group! :-) Hope you fared ok with flooding that I saw on the news in Wales?

Judy Adamson said...

Hi Crystal - thanks for your concern but we didn't have any flooding here, just very high winds, now subsided in to lovely autumn days - but only temporarily!

I think you're quite right about men and boys finding it easier to buy cards and gifts online - it kind of gives them a bit more anonymity than going into a shop!

Unfortunately, I'm not sure you're other reason applies in the UK, where computer use is less common than in the US. I still have friends, ten years younger than myself who don't even own a computer.

harry89 said...

Good article but still in my opinion people tends to buy greeting cards from the shop rather than online but Internet provides more reliability ...

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Debbie Correia said...

You last line amused me too. We started a on-line greeting card shop nearly 6 months ago specialising in art cards.

I think most who find us are looking for particular artists, but we struggle to find artist who have work suitable for particular occasions or interests.

Judy Adamson said...

Hi Debbie - thank you for your comments and I'm glad my example of a very specific greeting card amused you.

I had a look at your lovely website and I was really pleased to see cards without a lot of text on them! As it happens I've been putting (discreet!) text on some of my oil pastel paintings this weekend to make them more marketable but I hated doing it!

Debbie Correia said...

Many thanks Judy. It has to be done doesn't it.

We were in Tesco's the other week looking at the cards and someone asked us to help her find the daughter-in-law birthday cards. She wasn't entertaining any card that did not say Daughter-in-law on it.

BTW - excellent blog- really interesting.

Judy Adamson said...

Thank you, Debbie :)

Ashish Kumar said...

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Birthday Invitation Cards said...

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