With the vast majority of UK independent card retailers now back up and running, UK Greetings is among the first major greeting card publishers to have committed to having its full field salesteam back at work.
From tomorrow (July 1), all 25 UKG sales execs, as well as the publisher’s four regional sales managers. will be back up and running for their independent customers.
“Our regional sales managers have been working these last few weeks to ensure Independent card specialists had a key UKG field contact to liaise with as they prepared to reopen, “ explained Darren Cave, commercial director of UK Greetings “The demand for product during this time has been strong and feedback suggests that retailers are missing the personal touch offered by our sales team in the field. Given this, we’re now bringing our sales execs back to work on a part-time basis from this week (1 July). The team are incredibly excited about getting back to it – they can’t wait to get started,” he added.
As Darren stressed, safety (for the UKG team and their retail customers) will be paramount.
“Everything will be appointment based to fit in with retailers’ new hours and social distancing restrictions in their stores. We will send actual samples and catalogues, if required to the customer prior to the appointment to minimise double handling while
all our team are equipped with PPE, including face masks, protective visors and hand-santiser,” explained Darren.
While all members of sales team are being brought back on a part-time basis initially, demand from customers will dictate the pace of when this is ramped up.
Darren says he is delighted by the positive feedback he has received from many of company’s indie customers so far. “It is great that many experienced better than expected Father’s Day sales and the retailers that re-opened on June 15 have reported encouraging sales results generally. The Republic of Ireland expedited the easing of its lockdown and all non-essential retail is now open – previous plans suggested that shopping centres wouldn’t be able to re-open until August. This was much welcome news for a number of our independent customers there.”
The UKG distribution centre has been open throughout lockdown and the company’s webshop has, not unexpectedly, experienced a surge in traffic as retailers with an online presence or those selling via social media channels have secured stock.
“We have seen a 25% increase in sales via our webshop. We always knew it would be a useful tool, when we invested in it at the start of last year, but it is proving invaluable now, enabling retailers to order when it best suits them,” he added.
As to his predictions of how consumer greeting card shopping patterns will change, online v bricks and mortar, Darren says while he expects online to continue to perform above pre-lockdown sales levels, he remains “confident that sales within card specialists will continue to recover and regain the lion’s share of the market it lost during the full scale lockdown. As the lockdown continues to ease and the consumer becomes accustomed to the new guidelines, I expect a gradual return to bricks and mortar retail.”
Top: Although UKG has offered virtual support throughout lockdown, customers can now see the friendly face of their rep if they wish.