Tidings of great joy for e-card providers

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 15 December, 2001, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 15 December, 2001, 12:00am

Electronic Christmas card providers are enjoying a boom as companies switch from traditional to e-greeting cards to save cash.

The general manager of one Internet service company, Paul Cheng Kwok-leung, said his firm had seen a three-fold increase in orders for e-cards compared to last year.

He said the boom would force him to stop accepting orders, which come mainly from clients who need to send thousands of cards within days.

Mr Cheng said more firms were choosing electronic cards to save on staff, time and cash during the economic downturn. He estimated a company could save at least half the amount spent on printed cards and postage.

Tailor-made e-card services cost between $500 and $20,000. Mr Cheng estimates there are 10 companies in Hong Kong providing tailor-made e-card services. But traditional printed cards were preferred on occasions such as Valentine's Day.

'E-cards are standard in design and are sent en masse. It is cost-saving and speedy but too mechanical,' Mr Cheng said. 'So, many people prefer sending their greetings in hand-writing to their friends and loved ones.'

Andrew Batchelor, managing director of another Internet service provider, estimated business would rise more than 50 per cent on last year and that those who switched from printed cards could save $10,000 on average.

Printing company owner Philip Cheung said orders for printed cards had dropped about 30 per cent from last year.

But a spokesman for Hong Kong Post said there had been no drop in items posted, with 27 million letters sent between December 3 and 9 - about the same as last year. 'Many shops choose to send their advertisements for Christmas promotions and sales directly to customers . . . especially amid poor market sentiment,' the spokesman said.