In the age of electronic communication, Hallmark is bringing greeting cards — the old-fashioned paper kind, handwriting and all — to its customers’ phones.
On Monday, the Kansas City-based company announced the launch of its new service, Sign & Send, which will allow people to sign cards in their own handwriting and mail them from their phone or other devices.
“We have had over the years a lot of different consumers, especially young consumers, say things around, ‘Gosh, it’s hard to have stamps on hand,’ or, ‘It’s hard to do all the steps in the process, but (people) love it when they get a card from me,’” said Lindsey Roy, Hallmark’s chief marketing officer. “... We were trying to give all the amazing benefits of sending and receiving cards but in a much easier fashion.”
Sign & Send is meant to be more than an e-card service. The sender can write their message and signature on a blank piece of paper, snap a photo and upload it to the Hallmark website, where the company prints the handwritten message onto the card of their choice. Hallmark then sends a physical card to the recipient’s address.
The Sign & Send cards cost the same as those in the store, and Hallmark will cover the postal fee. To get customers started, the company is also offering the first card free.
“Our goal is to really make it easy to connect with (people’s) loved ones,” Roy said. “Our hope is that we’ll be selling lots and lots of cards and be putting millions of connections into the world and helping people follow through on their good intentions.”
Like most industries, the greeting card business experienced change during the pandemic. The New York Times reported this month that greeting card companies’ revenue from sales of paper products in the United States declined by 13 percent last year, as many stores were closed for long periods, according to IBISWorld, an industry research company.
But revenue from e-cards and online orders of paper cards increased by 23.9 percent from 2019 to 2020, IBISWorld said in a report, the Times reported. People seeking to connect embraced e-cards, which largely lost their popularity since an earlier internet era.
Hallmark, in fact, discontinued its e-card business in April. A spokeswoman told the Times the move was made not because of declining interest, but as “part of an ongoing business transformation.”
Jack Daly, an industry research analyst at IBISWorld, told the Times that he expected the revived interest in e-cards to be temporary. But for some people, he said, there will always be something special about paper.