Indie Opinion: House of Cards’ Miles Robinson Speaks Out On Nakedness

“I would estimate that around 50% of all the cards sold in House of Cards are unwrapped, but we felt it was important to find out what our customers wanted on this score and also the practical ramifications for our instore team of the different wrapping and unwrapping permutations that are currently being proffered by card publishers,” Miles Robinson, who co-owns the award-winning Home Counties specialist greeting card group, House of Cards with Nigel Williamson, told PG Buzz. “There is so much emotive chit-chat going on at publisher and retailer levels on this important environmental issue, but we wanted to find out what our customers really thought, plus take on board feedback from our store managers and their teams who deal with this on an hour-to-hour basis, day-to-day,” added Miles.

In pursuit of wanting to gain a better public and store staff understanding, House of Cards embarked on a two-pronged research project, involving its customers as well as its shop-based teams.

Above: House of Cards’ Wallingford store.
Above: House of Cards’ Wallingford store.

Here, Miles and Nigel share the findings from their consumer and staff research into naked cards…

Q: Are we suffering much in respect of damages or dirty cards from the ‘naked’ cards, compared to those that are wrapped?

A: “No more damages than usual so no difference here. However the cards with ‘eco-bands’ or ‘clasps’ are being damaged by customers who break them in their wish to look inside the cards. While this doesn’t damage the card, it does make the card racks look untidy.”

Q: Are the unwrapped displays taking longer to merchandise?

A: “No, it’s not taking any longer to merchandise the unwrapped displays, nor do they look untidy/messy (other than the clasp/eco-band issues as mentioned above). In most cases the opinion from customers is that the cards look better unwrapped.”

Q: What ‘naked’ option seems to be working the best so far?

 A: “Publishers supplying unwrapped cards with the envelope inside and no clasp, is working best, by far – and looks the neatest solution.”

Q: Are we/have we received positive/negative customer comments?

A: “Customer awareness of ‘naked cards’ is growing. The consumer is savvy and learns quickly, especially concerning environmental issues. We have received quite a few overwhelmingly positive comments about our naked cards. There are those who say they would like to see more cards presented unwrapped but at present we wouldn’t say a wrapped card is damaging to our sales.”

Q: Are we using more of our own bags now more of the cards we stock are unwrapped?

A: “A definite yes. With a wrapped card the consumer is happy to put them in handbag/shopping bag, but with a naked card the vast majority now want an additional protective bag from us which means that we are using many more of our our House of Cards’ 100% paper/kraft branded consumer bags. On the upside we have received countless positive customer reactions to our new bags with many commenting on how “classy” they look!”

This input from its customers and shopfloor team has helped the House of Cards’ owners, Miles and Nigel to formulate the retail group’s approach on this front. “Overall for us, it’s a no brainer – greeting cards should be naked in most cases,” states Miles. “Even though consumer awareness within our sector is low at the moment on this score, we have no doubts that this will increase. Our view is that it is so much better to have a happy customer and one who thinks were doing something positive!”

Above: House of Cards’ Miles Robinson (centre) and Nigel Williamson (second left) with chums and colleagues The Retas in July.
Above: House of Cards’ Miles Robinson (centre) and Nigel Williamson (second left) with chums and colleagues The Retas in July.

While Miles and Nigel acknowledge there is a need for some cards to continue to be wrapped (notably those which are handmade/highly-finished) they would urge that “a simple statement is included on the back of these card as to why they are wrapped (ie to keep card in good condition, due to involving small parts etc). We feel assured that the consumer would be accepting of this.”

The ideal ‘naked’ solution from the House of Cards ‘corner’ is for publishers to supply the cards with the envelopes popped inside the cards.

Above: House of Cards’ Miles Robinson (centre) and Nigel Williamson (second left) with chums and colleagues The Retas in July.
Above: House of Cards’ Miles Robinson (centre) and Nigel Williamson (second left) with chums and colleagues The Retas in July.

“We really believe this would make for the perfect solution and it would no doubt reduce costs. It would solve the issue of the customer bringing the card to the till with no envelope (a very frustrating/staff time-consuming exercise!) and overcome the issue of ‘broken’ clasps, that render the cards being seen as ‘used’ and therefore unappealing to buy,” states Miles.

Miles and Nigel are also supporters of the idea that retailers could also act as responsible recyclers of cellobags for customers wishing to ditch their cellobags.

“It would be easily workable as let’s face it cellobags do not take up much space and could easily be posted to a central recycling resource,” said Miles.

Above: Some 50% of all cards sold in House of Cards’ six stores are sold naked already.
Above: Some 50% of all cards sold in House of Cards’ six stores are sold naked already.

Miles is participating in the GCA’s Centenary Conference and AGM on October 17 as one of the panelists for the Environmental Discussion session in the early afternoon. (https://www.pgbuzz.net/oliver-bonas-olly-tress-to-headline-at-gcas-100th-anniversary-agm/)

GCA members and Associate Members are who have not yet reserved a place at the Celebration Conference & AGM should do so without delay. The cost (including lunch) is £84 (Including VAT) per person.

To book your place click here: http://www.greetingcardassociation.org.uk/anniversary-celebration-conference-and-agm

Top: House of Cards’ co-owners, Miles Robinson (left) and Nigel Williamson behind the counter.

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