Sending cards, from anywhere
When SendOutCards wanted to make it easier to send cards and gifts while on-the-go, we helped build a mobile app for its loyal distributor network and customer base.
Colin Proctor was on the beach in Hawaii when he got the call. The next week he’d be flying from his home in Seattle to the SendOutCards office in Salt Lake City for his first day as a Slalom employee.
When Colin headed back to his family home in Kailua, Oahu that afternoon, his dad was on his laptop, creating the Proctor family holiday card—on SendOutCards.com.
“I couldn’t believe it,” Proctor recalls with a laugh.
Proctor’s dad, like 400,000 other users, uses the online greeting card service to send personalized cards and gifts to friends and family. Had the company’s desktop interface worked well on a mobile device, the elder Proctor might have created his card poolside.
To stay competitive—and meet expectations—the card company needed to build a mobile app that would allow its customers to create and share cards while on-the-go.
“There was this pent up demand,” says SendOutCards CIO Matt Baros. “You go anywhere today, and there’s a way to do it on a mobile device. You’ve got to be mobile.”
“We’re this interesting hybrid of digital technology and physical gifts and cards.”
Innovate … or else
“We’re this interesting hybrid of digital technology and physical gifts and cards,” says Baros. “Our product is the ability for someone to create a custom greeting card and then attach a gift and physically mail it.”
SendOutCards’ mutli-level marketing, or MLM (think: Mary Kay), model relies on a network of independent distributors to bring others into the company. Its 60,000 plus distributors make money each time people in their downline send cards or gifts with SendOutCards.
One of the problems with an MLM model, says Proctor, is “they’re usually made or broken by their top sellers. If they’re not innovating … they become irrelevant and their business is dead.”
Proctor adds that the MLMs that have stood the test of time are constantly offering new products in their space. “With greeting cards,” says Proctor, “it’s important that they’re offering technology advancements.”
The company’s top distributors, which have substantial stake in the business, were anxious to have a mobile tool to help expand their individual businesses. Just think, says Proctor, “if I can make a card in front of someone and send it to them, it can be a really compelling way to get them interested.”
To do so, the company needed help making its web services more mobile friendly and designing a native mobile application atop those services.
“You’re successful if you can send a card from your phone”
When Proctor and team first met with the client, he casually mentioned that his dad was a SendOutCards user. They quickly found the Proctor family holiday card, complete with Colin’s smiling face. “That was a really good icebreaker,” he laughs.
From there, they got down to the business of building a mobile app.
“[They said] ‘you’re successful if you can send a card from your phone,’” says Kevin Rose, solution principal in Slalom’s technology enablement practice.
By those standards, the app is a wild success. “It’s really simple and fluid,” says Rose. “It does exactly what’s it’s supposed to do.”
The native iOS app centers around the card creator tool.
Users can select different sizes, fonts, and styles; upload custom pictures; and select optional gifts to accompany the card. The app also syncs with the user’s contact library.
Like Rose, Baros stresses the app’s intentional simplicity. In fact, it’s so easy to use that the instructional landing pages included in the initial release were removed.
“People said: ‘Forget it, it’s so easy—you don’t need those,’” says Baros. “You just hit a button, and off you go.”
“You just hit a button and off you go.”
“It blows people away”
With the new app, users can create and send cards in a matter of seconds. SendOutCards’ distributors are thrilled with the ability to easily follow up with new contacts.
“[Our distributors] call it brownie-ing somebody,” says Baros. “As in ’Have you brownie-d someone today?’”
Brownie-ing someone involves a) meeting a new person and getting their contact info or business card, b) taking a selfie with them, c) using the app to send the person a card and a pack of brownies.
Then, a few days later, the person gets a card in the mail with their picture and a note inviting them to learn more about how SendOutCards can help them stay connected with their customers, paired with fresh brownies.
“It blows people away,” says Baros. “[The app] has made it very practical and comfortable for people to quickly interact and talk about the products and the greeting card and gift sending process.”
“Being mobile friendly is critical to us, and this is a very important first step in getting there.”
Investing in the future
The mobile app is allowing SendOutCards to stay competitive in its space.
Even more importantly, says Rose, “it’s a way for them to show their user base that they are investing in the company and looking to the future.”
It’s also helping to support the company’s ongoing mobile-focused initiatives, such as making all its online properties more mobile friendly. As a result, mobile usage has increased by 15% since the app launched in January 2015, says Baros.
“Being mobile friendly is critical to us, and this is a very important first step in getting there,” Baros adds.
SendOutCards is an online greeting card and gift company. Since its start in 2003, more than 100 million cards and three million gifts have been sent using SendOutCards, making it the U.S.’s largest first-class mailing company. Users create personalized cards using the company’s website or mobile app, and SendOutCards prints, stuffs, stamps, and mails the card. Its multi-level marketing model enables its network of more than 60,000 distributors to earn money each time someone in their downline sends a card or gift.