Joe Fischer has revolutionized greeting cards by literally changing their shape. With his company, Greetabl, you don’t just get a standard card with a standard greeting, you get a greeting “cube,” plus an actual gift you can use. Greeting cards don’t have to be throwaway last-minute things you buy at a supply store because you forgot a friend’s birthday. Joe Fischer has proven that they can reach a level beyond.
After launching Greetabl, Joe Fischer has disrupted the $6 billion greeting card industry dominated by Hallmark. Joe knew it was time to disrupt the industry when he himself got tired of the routine of sending greeting cards, like the rest of us. Who reads greeting cards anyway? So, after racking his brain, coming up with ways to shake up the industry, he ended up creating “a card that transformed into a gift.”
With this idea, Joe Fischer had Greetabl. Joe partnered up with co-founder and graphic designer Zoë Scharf as they designed the world’s first “greeting cube.” The finished product turned out to be a gift box that measured 3×3 inches, which also satisfied a person’s appetite for creative personalization. If you get a cube, you can choose the design you want, write or choose a message, and then add actual gifts like “bath bombs, mini flasks, gift cards,” or anything that fits a 3×3 inch cube.
With giants like Hallmark facing challenges, Joe Fischer and Zoe Scharf found themselves a profitable niche with Greetabl. The brand practically created its own market, since there was nothing else like it. Since more people are turning toward alternatives to traditional birthday cards, getting a Greetabl cube shows them another dimension of the greeting card.
Check out more interviews with industry disruptors here. Watch this video to know how Greetabl works, if you’re curious.
Jerome Knyszewski: Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
Joe Fischer: From the time I gave up wanting to be a professional basketball player, I wanted to do two things: travel the world and start a company. Growing up on a farm, you never really travel, and I always had the itch.
In 2010, I quit my Wall Street job, sold most of what I owned and bought a backpack. I spent the next 7 months traveling solo around the world–six continents, 20+ countries. It was an incredible experience, but it was also a little bit lonely. When I was sitting in a hostel in Cambodia not having any real friends around was a moment that helped me realize how important relationships are. Really, relationships are everything.
After a stint helping start a company in India, I moved home to start the next phase of my career. During that time, I had a couple of weddings to attend and my go-to gift for weddings was always a handwritten note and a check. I felt that, while the message was the meaningful part, it’s a lot more fun to receive a gift than an envelope. I started tinkering with this idea that the message could be the gift and the gift could be the message, until I came up with a design that really seemed to work. And Greetabl 1.0–a greeting card that folded into a gift box– was born.
Jerome Knyszewski: What was the “Aha Moment” that led to the idea for your current company? Can you share that story with us?
Joe Fischer: The inspiration really sprang from what I think is a universal human desire–to make someone we love feel loved. It was a close friend’s wedding that sparked the idea, but the concept really came together as the perfect way to celebrate life’s little moments–a friend’s birthday, for instance, or a new job–particularly when you can’t be there in person. (And certainly my mother’s insistence on sending ‘thank you’ cards played a role!).
After tinkering around, I created a greeting card that folded up into a gift box to encase a check. It was rough around the edges but still got an amazing reaction from all who saw it (even the postal carrier who delivered an early prototype to my mom)!
Our customers inspire us as well–it’s really uplifting to see people use Greetabl to simply reach out and say ‘hello’ or ‘I’m thinking of you’ for no reason at all other than to make someone’s day.
Jerome Knyszewski: Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey? Did you ever consider giving up? Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?
Joe Fischer: The lowest point of the roller coaster that this journey has been, was several years ago — before we re-launched the version of our company you see today. We were raising money for the new launch we had been working on all summer and were running out of cash. Negotiating a deal when your back is up against a wall is a very stressful situation.
Fortunately, I was able to keep a level head and secure a good deal for the funding we needed, but it was a very challenging time. I think the combination of having a vision for what we wanted to create and the impact we wanted to have on the gifting industry along with a heavy dose of hard-headed stubbornness and the complete unwillingness to give up kept me going. Any sort of rational analysis of the situation at that time would have resulted in a different outcome, indeed!
Jerome Knyszewski: So, how are things going today? How did your grit and resilience lead to your eventual success?
Joe Fischer: Things are humming right along at Greetabl, thanks to our incredible team, outstanding partners, and the most thoughtful and considerate customers in the world. We always want to be growing faster, that’s just in our nature, but we are building a world class brand, and that doesn’t happen overnight.
Sometimes, I think terms like “grit” and “resilience” are just fancy words for being irrationally stubborn and hard-headed. I guess it comes down to caring about the vision in my head and being committed to bringing it into reality. When you’re committed you don’t give up. End of story.
Jerome Knyszewski: Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘takeaways’ you learned from that?
Joe Fischer: The funniest little thing that happened was a typo in the subject line of the first email we sent out, “Intoducing Greetabl…” I’m not sure how I missed that…
Looking back, though, I think the funniest thing is really our naivety about how much people pay attention to you. Everyone is so busy and thinking about their own lives that it’s a lot more difficult to cut through the clutter than you realize…until you try. This is the kind of thing that informs our sales and marketing efforts on a daily basis, and is one of the reasons we emphasize Customer Happiness so much.
Jerome Knyszewski: Can you share a few examples of tools or software that you think can dramatically empower emerging eCommerce brands to be more effective and more successful?
Joe Fischer: It took me a while to really learn this, but the use of the tool is far more important than the tool itself. In other words, you could build your entire team around the basics of Google Workspace: documents, spreadsheets, calendar, email, etc and never add another “productivity” tool or cool app and be just fine. It would be the simplest setup, and there’s value in simplicity.
That said, we do use additional tools that work very well for us, most notably Asana and Slack. Zapier is also an incredibly powerful tool for automating some simple tasks without creating custom software.
This might be my best all around advice: when it comes to this stuff, just pick one, master it, and stick with it!
Jerome Knyszewski: As you know, “conversion” means to convert a visit into a sale. In your experience what are the best strategies an eCommerce business should use to increase conversion rates?
Joe Fischer: Simplify, simplify, simplify! We’ve found over and over that it’s easy to get in your own way by adding too much to your site, or even too many options for your product. If your conversion rates are low, take a second look at your eCommerce funnel and ask yourself “how easy is it to buy my product?”. Everytime we do this exercise, we find something else to simplify or remove to make it easier for our visitors to convert to customers.
Jerome Knyszewski: Of course, the main way to increase conversion rates is to create a trusted and beloved brand. Can you share a few ways that an eCommerce business can earn a reputation as a trusted and beloved brand?
Joe Fischer: This is so important to us at Greetabl! The number one way to build trust as an eCommerce business is to make things right for your customers when things go wrong. It’s impossible to avoid mistakes 100% of the time, but it’s always possible to correct your mistakes when they do happen. Our Customer Happiness team has the authority to do whatever it takes to make things right for our customers, and I think that’s one of the reasons we have thousands of five star reviews online.
We also work hard to make sure our Customer Happiness team connects with our customers authentically and personally. One recent example of this is at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, we had every employee at Greetabl clear their calendars for two weeks and offer to get on the phone with our customers to just chat about what was on their minds. I personally spoke with many of our customers during that time — some just wanted a listening ear as they talked about the toilet paper shortage, some had ideas on what Greetabl could do to help people connect during social distancing, and some wanted to talk about how their small businesses were being impacted by the pandemic. It was a small thing to do in the grand scheme of things, but it made a profound impact on our customers and I’m really proud of our team for stepping up and being there for people during a difficult time.
The last piece that’s really critical to our strategy for building trust with our customers is Surprise & Delight. Our Customer Happiness team actively looks for ways to add a little magic for our customers whenever they can. If they help a bride select gifts for her bridesmaids, our team may send a little surprise to the bride congratulating her on her engagement, too. The key here is to make it authentic and flexible so that the team can find the right moments to make an impact.
Jerome Knyszewski: Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things one should know in order to create a very successful e-commerce business? Please share a story or an example for each.
Simple is best.
If I could “go back and do it all over again” the main theme in the way I would do things differently would be that I would do them simpler every chance I could. While it can sometimes (but certainly not always) take extra time and resources to get to “simple” the ROI on that investment is worth it because you learn more quickly and can iterate more effectively. “Simple” is often cheaper (over short and long-term horizons), a better experience for the customer, less frustrating, and, consequently, a lot more fun!
Differentiated is essential.
There are many ways to think about your place in the market, though the only “right” one is whatever your customers think. If they perceive you to be just like a dozen other brands in the space, then you’re not differentiated enough. It’s difficult enough to stand apart when you have a truly unique technology or offering…if you don’t have that, it’s nearly impossible. And, being in the weeds of your industry, it’s very easy to see how differentiated you are compared to others…but the only thing that matters is whether or not your customers agree.
It’s all about people.
For all of the spreadsheets, analysis, big ideas and other important aspects of creating a business; ultimately, it’s all about people. It’s about your customers. It’s about your team. It’s about your vendors, partners, investors, and more. Without these people, your business wouldn’t exist. And without these people, your business wouldn’t matter.
It’s really hard.
Starting a company is hard. Like, really hard. Even if everything goes right (it won’t) it’s just an incredible amount of difficult work, and that’s not for everyone. If you’re joining a small business that has ambitions to grow quickly, know that YOU will have to work that hard, too!
It’s the best job there is.
For the right person, there is no professional journey better than starting and growing a business. It requires constant learning and execution as well as real-world feedback. This makes it the ultimate personal development path.
Jerome Knyszewski: How can our readers further follow you online?
Joe Fischer: Follow @greetabl on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, or find us on LinkedIn.
If you’re excited about what we’re doing, check our open positions here.
If you want to connect with me personally, tweet me @thejoefischer.
Jerome Knyszewski: This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this!
The post Greet E-Commerce Success with Greetabl’s Joe Fischer appeared first on Tekrati.