Greetings cards are sold in more retailers now than ever before; from museums to motorway services, garden centres to Glastonbury. For many retailers a spinner of greetings cards is a really useful addition for shoppers who need a card to go with the gift they have just bought but regardless of the number of cards you can stock - the key question is what proportion should be for specific occasions?
I bought the cards for National Trust gift shops for 6 years and for us they were a fantastically successful but a very small range of just 180 cards. We were not a destination card shop and as such felt it was better to offer a broader range of blank cards that our customers could put their own message in than to try and include specific occasions cards in the range when they would appeal to such a small percentage of our visitors.
But if you are a card shop and have hundreds of cards how do you decide how to handle occasions, what percentage of your range should be given over to occasions cards and are there any trends you should be aware of?
I would suggest that we are starting to see the same trends now as we saw in 2008 when the banking crisis hit. Periods of uncertainty can have a positive impact on some sectors and in the last recession cards benefited, as people sent more cards and letters to mark special occasions and to stay in touch. even if money was tight, texts and emails were not sufficient and we seem to be seeing the same happening now.
As we know none of our shops have elastic walls and this is not necessarily about increasing the amount of space you use for occasion cards but rather reviewing the range you have to ensure that they are all performing well. If they are not is it time for a change?
One of the issues is how specific you need to be with the cards you offer. You are likely to need anniversary cards but are you getting enough sales from silver and golden wedding anniversary cards to justify the pockets they have? If your sales and feedback suggests you need them fine, but if your sales are poor then maybe you should consider having more generic Anniversary cards: look at some fresh designs, ranges with or without verse etc.
No one can afford to stock ranges that don’t sell so it maybe time to ring the changes! Could you offer less choice and put a number of designs for the same caption in one pocket? If you can do enough of this it will give you a row or two to use for a new caption?
The card and gift industries in the US and UK are great at creating hype around occasions and there isan argument that suggests having an amount of ‘flexible space’ in your card racks at the front of the store could be very useful to allow you to focus on the occasions that have a seasonal peak like Thank You Teacher and Graduation.
These two captions highlight another important point: the specification and price of the card. Children may be giving several thank you teacher cards and there maybe several children in 1 family so they should be bright, fun and well priced. Graduation is a big reason to celebrate so this may be a card that you feel needs additional finishes to make it extra special!
It is vital to consider who is receiving the card; the sender should like it but it should have some relevance to the recipient too so for example your range of driving test cards should have a number that will be enjoyed by younger recipients as it is often ‘the thing to do’ when you hit your 17th birthday. Likewise retirement cards shouldn’t just be suitable for ‘older’ recipients as some retirees are very young at heart and so you need some younger, brighter, fun ones too.
I would suggest that the increased focus on occasions could offer you an opportunity to grow your sales. The examples I have shown are from both established and new publishers, and I recommend you have a look at their ranges as they have some fantastic cards. I think it would be time well spent...