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Randy Fox at Jet talks about plastic card printing

Published on December 7, 2010

Randy Fox, Director of Business Development at Jet, chats with Cary about their plastic card printing, going multi-channel, and how a retail company had a significant boost with their program.

Cary Sherburne:  Hi, I’m Cary Sherburne, Senior Editor at WhatTheyThink.com, and I’m here with Randy Fox, who is Director of Business Development from Jet, located in Downer’s Grove in Illinois.  Welcome. 

Randy Fox:  Thank you.  Good to be here. 

Cary Sherburne:  Now, you guys are card printers, but you didn’t start out that way.  How long has your company been around? 

Randy Fox:  We’ve been around about 65 years and quite an interesting progression into plastic printing and then card printing about 15-20 years ago. 

Cary Sherburne:  And we’re not talking business cards here –

Randy Fox:  We’re not talking business cards, we’re talking plastic cards. Everybody uses them now, number one gift in the country is gift cards and that’s what we produce, that along with loyalty and membership cards.  About 700 million cards a year. 

Cary Sherburne:  Wow.  And you can do the mag strip kind of thing? 

Randy Fox:  Mag strip, encoding, imaging, match affixing and all the things that go with what they’ll later a loyalty program or a closed loop gift card program. 

Cary Sherburne:  And I understand there’s a bit of a lead time to get cards produced. 

Randy Fox:  Yeah, there are.  I mean, there’s an art to it certainly, and we certainly get involved a lot in the Marketing Department and they’re strategies and their creative – and as a result it does take time.  I mean typically, it’s about four to six weeks to get cards produced, but that’s pretty typical in the industry. 

Cary Sherburne:  And you know, it’s kind of interesting when you think about cards, and you know, your business card here and it’s a physical item and this one doesn’t have a mag strip, but it could.  But you’re going multi-channel.  How does that work with cards?

Randy Fox:  Yeah, it’s really interesting because we see a lot of customers in our clients and then it’s all driven off of the technology and the consumers that are out there.  Ninety-four percent of Americans own a cell phone.  And almost 30% of them own Smart Phones, so the migration of what occurring in the gifting and loyalty space is really bringing new technologies.  And we’re saying, hey we’re involved in everything that’s in the card program.  So if they need a gift card delivered or a reward delivered from a loyalty program and the vehicle of delivery is an email, or that we create a digital card or virtually send one to their cell phone as a text message, it still works.  You can still put in a bar code; you can still have a number that can be keyed in online or at a POS system.  So we’re embracing all those technologies and not just saying that we’re multi-channel, but really have taken that to the forefront.  And we’ve been working on that over the last couple of years.  We’re really excited about where that’s heading with consumers and our clients. 

Cary Sherburne:  That’s great.  And you were talking before we got started, you were talking about a new client that printed about two million loyalty cards and how they’ve – this particular client has integrated this electronic you know part of it.  Tell me a little bit about that. 

Randy Fox:  yeah, it was really exciting.  A large retailer with about 850 locations and they launched a loyalty program and we were honored to be their partner and we worked with them extensively over several months, launched earlier this year.  And in just a few months time, they signed up two million new members.  And so, yeah, we got the opportunity and the privilege to produce the enrollment forms in the plastic cards, which their folks are carrying, but when they reach those reward levels and that’s really what it’s about.  What are they trying to accomplish?  They’re trying to get their consumers engaged.  They’re trying to bring them back to the store and what we’re doing is we’re part of their marketing team.  It’s far more than just delivering a card and we like to say, we’re all the services behind the card.  And from that perspective, we’ve helped them by delivering the virtual rewards.  Eighty percent of their consumers have asked for the reward to be delivered via email. 

And so we’re turning virtual gift cards out as well as direct mail rewards.  There’s a whole complement based on how the consumer wants it.  And that’s really the whole key is that you can have the greatest ideas and the greatest technology, but you have to be touching the market in a way that they want to respond and be engaged in.  And so we really helped this partner in those ways.  And the bottom line is the results.  They’re getting 40% in redemptions, they’re getting 30% increase spend among those consumers.  Seven percent increase in same-store sales.  Those are huge numbers for retailers in 2010 with this economy, and we’re just proud to be part of that with them. 

Cary Sherburne:  And so do you find yourself often in a consultative role with them also because maybe they don’t understand all the options they have. 

Randy Fox:  Yeah.  Absolutely.  I mean far more than just saying, you know, somebody makes cards, or what do you want to do with your loyalty program and your gift card program?  And it’s really, where’s your business?  And how are you trying to market and target that audience.  And then we really become an extension of their marketing team.  And then we utilize all the different technologies that we’ve built and interfaced, you know, from the printing and the plastic to the direct mail, but also, yes, we use Perls and we use text messaging and hosting web pages, but it’s not selling them that widget or that idea, it’s really solving their problem and helping them increase their sales because at the end of the day, we have to enhance their brand or they’re not around.  And then internally all of us aren’t around. 

So we have to work very hard in understanding their business objectives and becoming their partner. 

Cary Sherburne:  That is a great story.  Thank you so much for sharing that with us. 

Randy Fox:  Thank you.

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By Chuck Gehman on Dec 08, 2010

What a great interview, fascinating. Exciting to see a a company that used to call themselves a "lithographer" doing such high tech stuff.

These guys are a real "marketing service provider", although I don't think you'd be able to find industry consultants who could help a printer to get into this cool niche business Jet is pursuing.

I think there are lots of applications like this out there that are great opportunities for printers. Thanks Cary!


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