Whether you’re looking for a birthday card, a keepsake ornament, wrapping paper, or even a customized gift, Hallmark Cards, Inc., with products sold in more than 30,000 retail stores across the U.S. and in 100 countries worldwide, is known as a trusted and uniquely creative source for celebrating life’s occasions.
Hallmark Cards, Inc. saves a lot of money and shaves months off software development time
- Top retailer creates innovative new products and collaborates both internally and with manufacturers using custom apps created using the FileMaker Platform
- Created FileMaker-based custom apps for R&D, manufacturing, and collaboration
- Saved a lot of money and months in software development; enabled innovative new products such as customized storybooks; streamlined collaboration internally and with overseas manufacturers; avoided millions in custom development using mainframe and/or SQL databases; saved time in bringing new products to market
High reliance on Innovation
Because it manufactures such a wide variety of products, and because consumers are becoming more demanding in their desire to be delighted and surprised, the research and development (R&D) department at Hallmark stays in a state of perpetual innovation. When Hallmark wanted to roll out a custom gift option in which customers could order items made to their tastes and specifications, R&D had to be prepared with the technology to deliver on Hallmark’s promise.
“One day we’ll be asked to create a greeting card with a very irregular shape that requires a custom cut,” says Steve Eikos, senior R&D engineer for Hallmark. “The next we’ll be asked to create a doll or stuffed animal with voice recognition. We get such a wide variety of requirements that, despite the fact that we are a small team, we have to stay agile and coordinated to remain competitive.”
Fast time to market with innovative products
Hallmark’s R&D team relies on custom apps created using the FileMaker Platform to accomplish these goals. By creating apps that help the small staff at Hallmark create new products, Eikos saves the company money and shaves months off of development time compared to customizing software for the company’s existing mainframe system. Eikos and his team began using the FileMaker Platform as a DIY (do it yourself) project to organize all the information needed to engineer and build every new product Hallmark produces.
For collaboration and efficiency, there’s nothing like the FileMaker Platform. We can’t think of any other way to innovate so quickly, and it’s so much less expensive than traditional mainframe servers and SharePoint. Steve Eikos, senior R&D engineer, Hallmark Cards, Inc.
Moving away from paper and the mainframe
Previously, Eikos and his team struggled because blueprints, designs, photos for product ideas — all the details necessary for R&D to succeed — were either on paper, scattered across spreadsheets, contained on physical photos, or stored in a mainframe system that was hard to navigate.
“With physical documents and digital information spread across numerous systems and servers, nothing was organized, and information was scattered all over the place,” says Eikos. “We considered updating our mainframe to become a central source of all product assets and ideas, but discovered it would cost millions and take months of development.”
The custom app the R&D team created allows them to add new fields or tables for each new product using simple, graphical programming tools. The app contains SKUs, deadlines, photo schematics, and other vital information. When the team makes changes, those alterations automatically update on all instances of the app, regardless of the platform.
Easier collaboration, automated sales
In addition to centralizing all new product information, the FileMaker app helps the R&D team collaborate with overseas manufacturers who make the final products. Eikos and his team share bids, photos, product specifications, and more with factories producing Hallmark products — without expensive SQL coding or other time-consuming programming.
In the 30 retail stores that participate in Hallmark’s custom gift program, sales associates across these select stores use iPad to take orders. Examples of customization include a personalized storybook featuring a customer’s child as the lead character, or customized Keepsake Ornaments to name a few. The orders flow from a custom app designed for retail and powered by FileMaker Go for iPad into the Hallmark R&D custom app, and then design and manufacturing process begins.
Pushing the boundaries of innovation
When asked about the benefits of using the FileMaker Platform, Eikos is effusive. “For collaboration and efficiency, there’s nothing like the FileMaker Platform,” he says. “We can’t think of any better way to innovate so quickly, and it’s so much less expensive than traditional mainframe servers and SharePoint.”
“The FileMaker Platform is an innovation enabler that has allowed us to really push the boundaries at Hallmark,” says Eikos. “For example, our customization studio can now easily communicate using photos, product specs, and other information, from one group to another to create products such as our customized books. That type of thing wouldn’t be possible without the FileMaker Platform.”