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  • Blue Eyed Sun launch Origamo handmade cards in the UK

    Origamo Greeting Cards UK

    Blue Eyed Sun are launching the Number One Italian greeting card brand, Origamo, into the UK market.

    These wonderful handmade cards have caused a sensation in Italy selling into over 2,000 gift shops where they fly off the shelves. Origamo cards come with eye-catching Point of Sale packages and part of their earnings support the Christina Noble Foundation’s work with street children in Vietnam. The launch is off to a flying start with Origamo being short-listed at the Gift of the Year Awards in two categories.

    Origamo - Point of Sale Displays

    Origamo’s energetic MD, Furio Ceciliato, and marketeer, Jeremy Corner, met a few years ago when the former began distributing Blue Eyed Sun cards in Italy. Both share a passion for marketing and are looking forward to working together on replicating the massive success of the Italian brand in the Italy here in the UK. Find out more in the video below:

    Furio featured on The Greeting Card Project, a YouTube channel created by Jeremy to promote greeting cards, retailers and innovative greeting card publishers. Jeremy visited Milan to understand the Italian card market and how Blue Eyed Sun and Origamo cards sold so well in a country not renown for card sending. You can watch the episode below:

    The UK debut of Origamo will include a delightful collection of new handmade Disney cards in collaboration with licensing specialists Pronao. These magical cards, which take up to forty minutes each to make, are available in the company's signature PopUp and Quilling ranges.

    You can see all the products first and meet Furio himself at the official launch on Stand 4A01 at the front of Hall 4 at Spring Fair.

    Click to learn more about our Gift of the Year success

    See Blue Eyed Sun's latest handmade card designs

    Find out more about What's New at Spring Fair 2019

    See Jeremy's previous fund-raising for the Christina Noble Foundation

  • Do Trade Shows Have a Future?

    Do Trade Shows Have a Future?

    Along with many other areas of our industry, trade shows took a hammering last year. There’s been speculation on some closing down, Pulse has merged into Top Drawer and others are shadows of their former selves.

    I’ve personally exhibited at over 100 shows and last year, on the back of a huge surge in interest in eco-friendly products, Blue Eyed Sun was seen with our BambooCups and greeting cards at ten trade shows in total. We had one of our most successful years ever and had several record breaking shows along with an incredible number of enquiries and new accounts. Unfortunately, it’s not been like this for everyone and, for many, the card market has not been without its challenges of late.

    The format of trade shows hasn’t been radically disrupted yet. Whilst there have been an increase in Meet the Buyer events organised by associations like the GCA (Greeting Card Association) and the GA (Giftware Association), the niche PG Live show is probably the closest we’ve seen to disruption so far. For all their faults, there are still some things about trade shows that work well, some things that don’t and some that are just plain ugly.

    The Good 

    There’s no substitute for face to face meetings for retailers to get a sense of a supplier and vice versa. A place where you can get your hands on the products and feel the quality of them. This has proved especially true for our launch of BambooCup, which feels so good to the touch. It’s always been true for our greeting cards too, which look way better in the flesh than in a brochure or online. 

    There’s also something very efficient about being able see lots of great product from a huge variety of suppliers in one place over one short period of time. Its useful for buyers and suppliers to be reassured that the people they are about to do business with are credible. You can get a lot of this through the subtle nuances of the behaviour of the people on the stand, how the products are displayed and how well it is attended by other buyers. If a company cares, it shows at shows.

    In fact, I’d go so far as to say that just being at shows is a big part of showing the marketplace how much suppliers care about their business, the industry and their customers. We all know what a lot of effort and expense they are and there’s a certain sense of commitment you get when you see publishers and suppliers regularly attending trade shows. Shows are also great for following trends, learning about the marketplace and networking in general.

    What I love most about shows is the chance to see lots of reactions in one go. To have hundreds of conversations about what we do well and what we do badly. This is hugely valuable marketing information that helps us get a sense of where to adapt and improve going forward. With the best agents and reps in the world you don’t always get the full picture without shows.

    It’s obviously incredibly exciting when you get it right and can feel completely demoralising when you get it wrong. That’s business for all of us thought, right? We don’t always get it right, but shows do make it easier to give us a better idea of what is going to work and what isn’t, whether we are suppliers or retailers.

    The Bad

    For retailers there’s lots of walking with many miles to cover, especially at large shows. For suppliers, there’s lots of standing, which can also be hard on the legs. It’s tough being in a quiet spot of a show or on a small stand that might get missed. If you’re an established player, it’s hard when retailers skip out on your stand to find new suppliers as they feel they can catch up with you or your sales agent another time.

    It’s also bad when your marketing doesn’t hit the spot or worse when you don’t market at all and rely on the show to bring the business to you. One thing I’ve learnt about doing shows is that they are always improved by a strong combination of direct mail, PR, advertising, calling our customers, social media posts and email marketing.

    Similarly for retailers, if you don’t do you homework and hunt through your mail, your emails, your trade mags and show websites you can miss new treasures. You can also miss out if you don’t know your best sellers and make a note of what stock you are low on in store. Being organised prior to visiting shows can make the world of difference to your bottom line.

    Then there’s the bad food. To be fair it’s not all shows that suffer from this. I love eating from the Crussh concession at Olympia and the lunch at PG Live is not to be sneezed at. It’s the NEC that still seems to struggle with it’s food offering, despite having tarted its restaurants up in recent times. Eating healthily and well at shows is always a challenge.

    The Ugly

    Horrible shows are kind of like bad days in a retail store. No one wants them, they sometimes just happen. Since I started exhibiting, we’ve been at shows immediately after 9/11, mad cow and foot and mouth outbreaks, halls being flooded, fires and even snow storms. As one would expect, they were all ugly. You can’t always control the outside world and yet, if you’re not in the game, you can’t expect to win. Like everything in business, you pays your money and takes your chances. That doesn’t stop the experiences being ugly from time to time.

    Sometimes it’s not out of your control. It’s just down to the way a market sector works. For example, we’ve never exhibited at Glee before with cards. That’s because most of the good independents go to other shows and a large section of that market is dominated by brokerage. This year, we thought we’d try it as BambooCup had been going very well in garden centres and gift products don’t tend to be brokered. 

    The result? My word it was ugly. An absolute stinker (our first time there and our worst ever trade show to date - in a year of record breakers). With hardly any visitors in our aisle we could tell it wasn’t going well on the first day. We tried to see if the organiser would include us in their daily email shot to salvage what we could of the show. No help from them. So two of our team sat it out over four long days doing what they could with what few visitors walked by. Boy do those days seem long when it’s quiet at a show.

    Fortunately our horrid experience at Glee was salvaged by our best ever Autumn Fair and a decent enough showing at Top Drawer Autumn (on at the same time).

    The Future

    If you’re going to do well at shows as a supplier you have to keep developing and launching new product. It’s the number one thing buyers ask for at shows. Everybody is always moving forward. Getting the newness right is a challenge and I think it’s best faced by trying lots of new things.

    Which is what Blue Eyed Sun is doing at Spring Fair 2019. We have a new larger stand at the front of Hall 4 where we will be showing off new greeting card ranges, new eco-friendly bamboo products from chic.mic and our exciting new handmade quilling and popup card ranges from Italian sensation Origamo, which include a fantastic range of Disney licensed products. We even have small new ranges of framed prints and table lamps on display.

    As for the shows, they have to keep focussed on what buyers and suppliers most need: Introducing high quality suppliers with great innovative product to leading retailers that can bring their new products to the high street. The key is to make sure this is done in as cost effective way for everyone as possible.

    As long as it remains important for people to meet in person and for great products, companies and people to meet in person trade shows that have the right offering for their customers will remain in business.

    Jeremy will be speaking on the Main Stage at Spring Fair on Sunday 3rd February at 13:15 on the Rise of the Ethical Consumer and adapting to the Growth of the Green Economy.

    Click here to find out more about Jeremy's talk at Spring Fair

    How to make the most of trade shows

    Are trade shows still worth it?

    See us at Spring Fair 2019

  • Blue Eyed Sun launch W-Lamp in the UK

    W-Lamp Phone BoxBlue Eyed Sun are the exclusive UK and Ireland distributors of W-Lamp, a range of paper lamps made in Italy by Pronao with finest Italian FSC certified boards.

    These awesome ranges of contemporary designs include LED lamps and are fully safety tested. They also come with two point of sale options for your store.

    These exciting new characters include many of your favourite Disney characters.

    Where to see W-Lamp at Spring Fair

    See What's New from Blue Eyed Sun

    W-Lamp - Union Jack

    W-Lamp - Point of Sale

  • Spring Fair 2019 - Essential Information

    Spring Fair 2019 - Essential InfoSpring Fair 2019 brings together a huge range of products including an inspirational showcase of over 300 British greetings card publishers at the National Exhibition Centre (NEC) in Birmingham, United Kingdom.

    Register for FREE tickets to Spring Fair by clicking here

    When is Spring Fair 2019?

    Spring Fair 2019 runs from Sunday 3rd February until Thursday 7th February from 09:00 - 18:00 each day.

    Where to Eat at Spring Fair

    We've tried lots of different restaurants at Spring Fair. Here are some of our favourites:

    5 Great Restaurants near the NEC

    Where to Stay at Spring Fair

    Consider hotels in Birmingham City Centre (which is a short train ride from the NEC).

    Find accommodation for Spring Fair here

    How to get to Spring Fair

    The sat nav post code is B40 1NT. Parking on site is free. There are free shuttle buses to take you around the complex.

    Birmingham International Rail Station is a 5 minute walk from the show as is Birmingham International Airport. It is an 80 minute train ride from London Euston Rail Station.

    Save 25% on Virgin Rail Advance Tickets

    Seminars at Spring Fair 2019

    Improve your business at Spring Fair 2019 with some great seminars and talks.

    Blue Eyed Sun's MD, Jeremy Corner, will be speaking on the Main Stage in Hall 20 on Sunday 3rd February 2019 on "The Rise of the Ethical Consumer and the Growth in the Green Economy."

    Click here for a full list of seminars.

    Gift of the Year Awards

    Blue Eyed Sun are proud to have been shortlisted in two categories with our new Origamo cards launching at the show. We've made the Final three for the Best Card & Wrap Category with the winner announced at the show.

    Click to see the full list of finalists

    What's New from Blue Eyed Sun at Spring Fair

    We'd love to show you all of our amazing new products on our new stand at the front of Hall 4 (Stand 4A01). You will be amazed at the range of cards and gifts on offer. Some highlights are:

    Our gorgeous new hand-finished Fiesta greeting cards, which launched this month

    A fantastic selection of new BambooCup, SlideCup and BambooFriends designs.

    The launch of Italian handmade greeting card sensation Origamo into the UK.

    Exciting new Disney licensed products with our trading partners Pronao and W-Lamp.

    Click here to follow our blog feed of what's new from Blue Eyed Sun

    Quote coupon code: SFB19 when ordering during the shows (online or offline) for FREE CARRIAGE until 10th February 2019.

    Can't make the show? Click here to request access all of our designs online.

    Read 12 Top Tips for Trade Show Visitors

    See if you can find Blue Eyed Sun's Stand 4A01 in Hall 4 on the show map below:

    Spring Fair 2019 - Floor Plan

  • Blue Eyed Sun launch new Canvas Gallery collection

    Canvas Gallery

    Blue Eyed Sun are the exclusive UK and Ireland distributors for Canvas Gallery a new retail concept inspired by the popularity of Instagram style prints for the home.

    Competitively priced, with a beautifully made Point of Sale unit for displaying and storing the small sized canvas prints in store, these products have been developed with the retailer in mind.

    Boost sales in your store with this contemporary lifestyle and interiors solution.

    Where to see them at Spring Fair

    See What's New from Blue Eyed Sun

  • Scotland's Trade Fair Spring 2019 - Essential Information

    Scotland's Trade Fair Spring 2019

    Blue Eyed Sun will soon be exhibiting at the Scotland's Trade Fair Spring 2019 in Glasgow on stand K39.

    Officially debuting at this leading Scottish trade show is our top selling range of market leading reusable BambooCups made from bamboo fibre and a collection of exciting bamboo giftware.

    Quote Voucher code STFS19 when ordering during the show for FREE CARRIAGE.

    About Scotland's Trade Fair Spring 2019

    This annual trade show is Scotland's leading gift fair. It runs for two days from Sunday 20th January to Tuesday 22nd January from 09:30 - 17:00 at the Scottish Event Campus (SEC) in Glasgow.

    To register for the show please click here.

    Where to Stay at Scotland's Trade Fair Spring 2019

    The Crowne Plaza,  the Hilton Garden Inn, the Radisson Red and the Village Inn are within 5 minutes and close to the show.

    For help booking accommodation for the show click here

    How to get to Scotland's Trade Fair Spring 2019

    There are 2000 car parking spaces available in the multi-storey car park located on the East end of the SEC (Postcode is G3 8YW).

    SEC has its own railway station 'Exhibition Centre' which is two stops on the low level from Glasgow Central Station.

    You can fly to Glasgow International Airport airport (a 20 minute drive from the show).

    For more information on travel for the show click here.

    When you get to the show do remember to come and see us in K39.

    Can't make the show? Click here to request access all of our designs online.

    Scotlands Trade Fair Spring 2019 - Floor Plan

  • Origamo announced as Finalist in Gift of the Year

    Gift of the Year - Origamo Quilling Cards

    Blue Eyed Sun's latest distribution deal has got off to a flying start with two of the ranges from their market leading Italian trading partners, Origamo, being shortlisted in the prestigious Gift of the Year Awards and their Quilling range being voted by the judges into the final top three for the Card & Wrap Category.

    "We couldn't be happier to have our beautiful quilled greeting cards and the Origamo brand recognised, by the leading UK industry experts who judged the competition, as something special for those retailers wanting to stand out from the competition. We can't wait to find out if we won and to see the reaction of customers to the wonderful products and the important contribution they make in the world." - Jeremy Corner, MD Blue Eyed Sun.

    Winners of the Gift of the Year Awards will be announced at Spring Fair on Sunday 3rd February.

    Click here to read more about Origamo

    Gift of the Year 2019 - Origamo Quilling Card

  • Blue Eyed Sun adds to BambooCup, SlideCup and BambooFriends selection

    BambooCup Stand 2019

    BambooCup sales continue to grow from strength to strength as one of the leading reusable cups on the market with rave reviews from retailers and consumers alike.

    With our patented bamboo lid that is taste free and odour neutral (unlike silicon alternatives), as well as a rigorous independent testing program by TUV Rheinland, BambooCup stands head and shoulders above poorer quality alternatives. With a huge selection of gorgeous on-trend designs and two eco-friendly point of sale solutions they look great and are easy to buy.

    For 2019 we've added fifteen gorgeous new designs BambooCup, ten stunning new SlideCup designs, ten beautiful new Deluxe bamboo lunchboxes and ten colourful new children's beakers from the BambooFriends range.

    The new designs are all available to pre-order at trade shows now and soon with our agents for April delivery to shops. To make sure you are on our mailing list, please register your details here or give us a call on 01273 823003.

    We just had a record breaking show at Top Drawer Spring 2019. You can see them first next at Scotland's Trade Fair Spring 2019 20-22 January at the SEC in Glasgow (Stand K39) and at Spring Fair in the NEC in Birmingham (Stand 4A01 at the front of Hall 4).

    Our MD, Jeremy Corner, will be speaking on 'The Rise of the Ethical Consumer and adapting to the Growth of the Green Economy' on the main stage at Spring Fair on Sunday 3rd February at 13:15.

    Read more about the War on Single-Use Plastic here

    Watch our 40 second video introducing the new designs available from Blue Eyed Sun.

  • Top Drawer Spring 2019 - Essential Information

    Top Drawer Spring 2019

    Top Drawer Spring 2019 features many of Britain's leading design-led home, gift, craft and greeting card suppliers. Here are the essentials you need for this top trade show for retailers:

    For free tickets to Top Drawer Spring please click here.

    When is Top Drawer Spring 2019?

    Top Drawer Spring 2019 runs from Sunday 13th January until Tuesday 15th January from 09:30 - 18:00 at Olympia in London and features a stunning edited showcase of over 1,500 hand picked brands. 

    Where to Eat at Top Drawer Spring

    We've tried lots of different places to eat near Top Drawer Spring. Here are some of our favourites:

    5 Great Restaurants near Olympia and 5 Great Restaurants in Earls Court.

    Where to Stay at Top Drawer Spring

    Olympia is well serviced for hotels and there are good transport links to local London areas.

    Click here for an interactive map of hotels near Top Drawer Spring

    How to Get to Top Drawer Spring

    There's an overland train to Olympia Station to Top Drawer Spring 2019 from Shepherd's Bush (central line) or West Brompton (District Line)Click here for the TFL website.

    The Sat Nav post code for Olympia is W14 8UX for drivers. You can park next to the venue. Do book in advance as it is more expensive on the day. Click here to book parking at Olympia.

    What's new from Blue Eyed Sun?

    Blue Eyed Sun are launching a gorgeous new greeting card range called Fiesta at Top Drawer Spring 2019 on stand P49. You can also order any last minute Valentines, Mothers or Fathers Day cards as well as getting a sneak preview of forthcoming Christmas ranges.

    Click here to see what's new from Blue Eyed Sun

    To order Blue Eyed Sun's new designs for your shop or request a brochure click here.

    Top Drawer Spring 2019 - Show Map

  • The Rise of Customer Experience in Retail

    The Rise of Customer Experience in Retail

    Last month I had an ‘experience.’ It was fun, exciting, inspiring and adventurous. It was sexy too and stimulated my imagination. It gave me everything I wanted and more. It opened my eyes to new possibilities. Before you ask, no, it wasn’t that. It was something quite different, although we I may blush a little when I share some of my customer experience in a retail store with you.

    As modern retail adapts and evolves, one key area of focus is the 'customer experience.’ John Lewis launched its tech incubator J-Lab to find new was of improving the experience of the in-store shopper as a way of retaining customers and drawing them in to spend more. Last year they trialled an after hours ‘private shopping’ service at their Cheltenham store, where anyone spending £10,000 or more could have the entire store to themselves. 

    My experience was slightly less glamorous, but totally unforgettable. It started on a day out in Camden, which I have not visited for many years. The area attract 28 million tourists a year and the labyrinth of shops and stalls is a retail experience in itself. Wandering around Camden Market and particularly the Stables Market with its ornate wooden doors and equine effigies was an adventure and full of interesting things to buy and eat. It started when a friend coaxed me through a shop entrance flanked by two giant metal robots, with a silver sign above the door that read Cyber Dog.

    Cyber Dog

    Greeting us with a friendly smile as we entered was a girl dressed in cyber goth attire that was a cross between Blade Runner and a Japanese manga creation. In fact most of the store assistants were spectacularly dressed and made up in bright neons, facial piercings, tattoos and futuristic haircuts. 

    The heavy bass of dance music reverberated throughout the store which looked like a spaceship with life size cyborgs and silver robots in cryogenic pods high up on the walls. At the far end of the ground floor an escalator took us down into the bowels of what felt more like a night club than a shop. 

    As we descended the beat got louder and the lighting darker. Everything was bathed in ultra violet light to show off the fluorescent garments and items available to purchase for your next big club night. At the far end of the cavernous underground space, with his booth up on stage and backlit by bright neon stripes, a DJ hunched over the decks with his headphones propped over one ear.

    The basement was made up of different caves to explore. It reminded me of nights out at the End or Fabric in London back in the day. It was fun being in this shop. Things got even more interesting as I scuttled nervously through the adult section and emerged the other side only to turn an even darker shade of crimson when I spotted a woman pole dancing on a small stage in the corner. It caught me by surprise. I grabbed the nearest item to me and headed for the tills. It turned out to be fluorescent yellow thong. “For a friend,” I gabbled at the assistant.

    I later discovered that there are other platforms in the shop where clubbers dressed in store gear are hired to dance above the customers. Aside from my dubious shopping choice, the experience was unlike anything I’d seen before - and this from someone who spent a year of his life partying I mean studying on exchange in Amsterdam.

    What impressed me most was that Cyber Dog understands what it is, understands its customers and goes all in on their commitment to provide them with a retail experience unlike any other. 

    Translating the Experience

    So what can we learn from this experience that can be used in other retail stores?

    Your High Street

    Councils and city planners can definitely do more to encourage fun shopping areas like Camden that are filled with independents, have atmosphere and draw tourists in. The Shambles in York and the North Laines in Brighton both attract bring shoppers from miles around for the experience. Encourage yours to do the same.

    You can work together with other local retailers to create events like the Christmas light experience in Holt or late shopping hours on certain occasions, like House of Cards and other retailers on St Mary’s Street in Wallingford do. 

    Window Displays

    Lights and window displays are a great experience for customers. Gorgeous Hair Boutique in Hove has the tiniest shop with the most incredible window displays. I’m sure customers love seeing them and talking about them. Christmas windows at Selfridges have attracted visitors for years. The next part of their experience is entering the shop.

    In Store

    What does it feel like for customers when they walk into your store? Are they greeted by a staff member at the door? How does the store look from where they are standing? What are the sights, sounds and smells? How do the staff appear? What are they wearing? Is it in keeping with your brand? Do they smile or are they on the phone or gossiping?

    Are there any demonstrations in store? You don’t have to have your team pole dancing in a corner to generate interest, there are plenty of other ideas you can put in place. Christmas gift wrapping classes, greeting card personalisation or even calligraphy demonstrations are a few I know of.

    What is the layout like for your shop? Are the shop fittings tired and worn out or are they inviting and enticing. One of the loveliest shop fits I’ve seen is Arrowsmiths in Broadstairs, where the owner was smart enough to keep the Victorian wooden glass cabinet displays fitted by the chemist that first opened the shop. You can put anything anywhere in that store and it looks good.

    The Oyster Gallery in Mumbles zones their two upstairs rooms by colour and the rooms are laid out like dining rooms filled with products. Organising the colours like this helps customers to imagine how the products might all look and work together to create a feeling.

    The late Lynn Tait always invested heavily in a Santa’s Grotto experience at the Lynn Tait Gallery for the children of Leigh-On-Sea. The kids had a wonderful experience and the parents spent money in the shop. 

    Senses and Feelings

    What sort of music do you play in store? Is it the right experience for your brand? What about smells? Cafes in shops have a head start on others, but there are oil burners with pleasant fragrances that can have positive effects on the experience customers have of your shop.

    Even the things you say have an effect. A reminder that the customer has made a lovely choice helps to alleviate buyer’s angst. Even asking the customer if they found everything they were looking for today adds to the sense of a helpful experience and can increase sales.

    You might think you are already doing a great job, but ask yourself if there is anything extra special you would do if Tom Cruise’s rep called you to say Tom wants to visit your store. How would you make his experience incredible? Free coffee? Private shopping? A free gift wrap service? As marketing expert Geoff Ramm says, “create OMG experiences for your customers.” And as I always say, “Make them shareable.”

    Are you Shareable?

    When customers love the experience you give them, they want to share it with others, so make it easy for them too tag you and drive virtual footfall to you by setting printing your social media accounts on your till receipts, bags, etc. Don’t just put the Instagram logo, make it easy for them by using your @handle. Use calls to action that tell customers why they should follow you on Instagram.

    Change is Coming 

    There is undoubtedly a shift happening towards experience over products. Millennials are said to treasure experience over things, we are all conscious that the we are consuming more resources than our planet can handle. Our abundance of stuff is causing us stress and there is a growing trend towards minimalism. With it is an awakening of consciousness where many are discovering that our happiness and the happiness of those around us does not come down to material goods. By creating incredible retail experiences and selling useful products that people want to buy, use and keep, change is an experience that we can all look forward to.

    How to Future Proof Your Retail Business

    Seven Habits of Highly Effective Retailers

    The Importance of Brand Story for your Business

    Customer Experience - Cyber Dog

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