Cards franchise rules out eCommerce following sales spike

Giftware franchise Wild Cards & Gifts says it has no intention of introducing an online shopping platform, after recording a 10.4% sales increase on last year in the week leading up to Mother’s Day.


According to Wild Cards & Gifts franchisor Lawrence Boyle, the company’s 43 stores generated more than a $1 million in sales over the week surrounding Mother’s Day.


“We’ve never done that before… [With regard to overall turnover,] we’re in the low to mid 30s at this point and we’re aiming to get to $40 million by Christmas,” he says.


Boyle says while the company does have an online presence, it has no intention of introducing an online shopping platform.


“We don’t see it being of value at this point because it’s like tonight’s dinner – people plan it as they go and the distribution system doesn’t yet match up with that,” he says.


“For large ticket items, it often makes sense to buy online. But a lot of our gifts are fragile and our offering therefore doesn’t translate easily into online sales.”


“However, we do influence customers online to visit our stores by displaying online catalogues.”


In the lead-up to Mother’s Day, market research agency IBISWorld released a report forecasting consumers’ spending patterns, with spending on greeting cards predicted to grow by 2.7% to $51 million.


Boyle says there will always be a market for cards, particularly at the premium end of the market, dismissing the rise of eCards.


“There was the suggestion 10 years ago that the eCard would remove us. With regard to cards, the application is still to share a sentiment with someone in a style that is individual to them [which eCards fail to do],” he says.


“Our biggest threat is the “cheap and cheerful” productions, and the fact that people tend to cut back on items such as cards when times are tough.”


Wild Cards & Gifts plans to open another three to eight stores in the next few years, and isn’t overly concerned about franchisee recruitment.


“Our biggest issue is rent… Occupancy costs have maintained themselves at about 18% in the last three years,” Boyle says.


“Our unique selling point is that we have one of the lowest franchisee fees in the industry. The standard weekly service fee is 9% but we offer 4%.”


Boyle says three quarters of the chain’s franchisees are husband-and-wife teams as they can work different days, allowing for greater work/life flexibility.


“However, we are seeing more mother-daughter franchisees. Traditionally, a new franchisee is aged between 30 and 50, with 60% women and 40% men,” he says.


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