Having hitherto totally focused on expanding its chain of 150+ specialist card shops, Cardzone has now also entered the online space, having just gone live on its first ever e-commerce site. (https://www.cardzoneltd.com/)
“The desire to launch a website was massively amplified whilst we were closed through the first lockdown, as you can imagine!” James Taylor, trading director of Cardzone explained to PG Buzz. “It’s always been a market which has fascinated us, but with it being so different to bricks and mortar retail and not understanding how it works, we have always hesitated to go for it,” James admitted, who heads up the running of the business with his father Paul and co-director Jo Hancock, the latter two founding the business in 2005.
“The original intention was to get a head start on launching our own e-commerce site by trying to acquire an existing strong online business, but with the market being as is now, I don’t think selling is on the minds of many successful small online business owners!” accepts James.
The fresh-looking site, which also gives a shout out to the group’s bricks and mortar heritage, has launched with around 1,000 skus, but the plan is to double that in the run up to Mother’s Day.
“Having a big range and great choice is really important, especially as a traditional card and gift business as there are so many different titles we need to include,” says James. “Cards are really important as that is the bones of what we are all about at Cardzone. We weren’t convinced initially about how many greeting card designs to offer given the strength of personalisation online which is something we don’t currently offer. We now feel having a great representation is vital in order that customers see us as a ‘one stop shop’ for a great variety of cards and well-priced gifting ranges.”
The Cardzone site currently features designs from eight different publishers, but the plan is to expand on this in the coming weeks to offer an even greater variety. In addition to greeting cards and giftwrap, the site prominently features some key gifts brands and licensed properties. These include Beatrix Potter, Disney, Gorjuss, Willow Tree, WoodWick and Yankee Candle.
Among the promoted features of the site is that everything will be shipped in 100% recycled packaging, with free shipping for orders over £30. Customers can search
James reveals that while still very early days, the site has got off to “an encouraging start” but is realistic of what is involved to shine in the online space. “To become a well-established online retailer, you have to commit and can’t be afraid to invest in what you offer as there’s a huge audience out there. We are currently concentrating on ensuring that our customer service is sound and that the website is user friendly to navigate. Then we hope to push on to delivering a longer-term digital strategy.”
As James highlights in the immediate short-term with the lockdowns that non-essential retailers are currently facing there is a surge in demand for online greeting cards as well as strong sales growth for grocers and convenience stores with a large choice and limited physical competition. “This trend won’t change in the current lockdown state and will quite likely pave the way for medium-long term growth in these channels, especially the digital space which has previously struggled to penetrate the greeting card market unlike many other sectors. How the re-levelling after this lockdown will look is a challenging thought for Cardzone, especially considering we have only just launched our e-commerce site. While the pandemic has given the digital world acceleration which couldn’t have previously been conceived we do believe that in the medium-term opportunities will continue to present themselves across the high street for continued growth too.”
Top: The Cardzone webshop launched just in time to catch some Valentine’s Day sales.