A while ago I had occasion to print some business cards in Hong Kong. I've done a few times before and each time it seems like a lot more hassle than it should be.
This time, I thought to myself, I'd find a better way.
I made a post on LinkedIn to crowdsource the experience across my network and got multiple answers, both through LinkedIn and from people who saw my post and reached out directly. The two most common suggestions which I tried are below.
1. Printers in Sheung Wan
This is the tried and tested method which I know many people are familiar with. I've used these shops a few times and have the most experience with them.
There's a small street in Sheung Wan called Man Wa Lane by MTR Exit A2. Here you'll find a strip of tiny shops that all help with myriad office requirements like making company chops and printing business cards.
Typically you'll go down to the street and ask around different shops what options they have for cards (thickness, speed of delivery, special requirements) and compare prices. I've found most of the prices converge around HKD1.25/card although you'll probably get a better deal than I did 😂
Once you've found one you like they'll ask you to send over a design file by email or USB stick. If you're printing multiple batches with different people's information on them you'll either write it on pen/paper at the shop or send the information over as an email.
You then confirm the design file by going back to the shop (best) or them sending you a PDF with all the cards type set on to the design.
In my experience more often than not it takes 2 rounds of back-and-forth to get the names spelled correctly. Unless you have design files for each card, they'll do the typesetting for you which results in these errors.
Once you're happy they'll send the order out. You pick up the cards a few days later and pay by cash or cheque when you get the cards.
- You can speak to somebody
- You can feel the card thicknesses
- You don't have to pay until you get delivery of the cards
- They'll do typesetting for you so you don't need to make multiple design files
- Requires 2/3 physical visits to the store which is time-consuming
- Typically requires some back and forth by email to get the design correct
- Prices not transparent - requires some shopping around
- No credit card option; cash or cheque only
- Requires you to have design files on hand
From LinkedIn, there were a few recommendations for e-print, a local, listed company. I've used them before to print banners and it's a fairly painless experience. They have many shops in Hong Kong and you can order/collect from any of these.
You have the option to go to any of the stores and repeat the process as above. As they handle many products they don't always have samples for all the products they can print though. One option available here is to pay for design if you don't have one already, although from what I can gather this is only an option if you physically go to a store.
The easier option is to order online through their website. The catch? The system is...err a 'legacy' one and switching to English stops working the moment you enter the order form. It's a rather painful experience but it does get the job done. You'll also need specific design files for each batch of cards if you want to print multiple name cards as there's no option for them to do typesetting.
Once the order is made you'll get an email confirmation, after which you pick the cards up from a select location. It seems like they have some delivery options with SF Express.
Perhaps the best thing about e-print though is the price.
- They can help design for you
- Option to speak to somebody but it can be done fully digitally
- Can pay with credit card
- Option to order online
- Delivery available
- Cheap! (yes, it's worth saying twice)
- Hard to do without reading Chinese
- Don't always have samples available if you go to the shop
- Confusing digital experience
- For multiple batches you'll need specific design files; no typesetting available
- If you're not happy with the print there's no option to reprint without paying more
3. Other Options
Below are some other suggestions and sites that I found through some light Googling.
People with email addresses
I had a few people recommend people who do business entirely over email. I didn't try any of these but I did ask a friend about their experience and they say it's exactly like the printing shops. I can see it being an easier option if you don't want to physically go to a store.
2-hour business cards
This service looks amazing. When you're in a hurry and don't mind paying a premium for your cards they can turn around a basic print in 2 (!!!) hours. They can take orders by WhatsApp and WeChat for the texting-inclined amongst us.
Similar to e-print it seems. Right down to the same issue of the 'English' UI toggle just redirecting to an English language website, not actually changing the form language to English.
Prices indicative of 300 cards at as close specs as possible.
|Sheung Wan Printers||
|2 hour business cards||
2-hour business cards
Surprisingly it seems that no digital solution exists for handling multiple batches of similar name cards (e.g. same design, 3 different people).
Pricing also seems very opaque. Even if the basic printing options are obvious, there's a lot of options to how you can make your card and each one usually costs money. If you want that kind of customisation that's awesome, but in my case, it proved more confusing.
Whichever option you choose, the cost of printing cards in Hong Kong is very low, albeit a bit more difficult than it should be. A solution like moo.com with a good user experience would go a long way.
Since I know the process now, language isn't an issue, and I value the convenience of purchasing online I'll probably stick with e-print.
All-in-all I found an easier, cheaper solution than the printers I usually use so this exercise was definitely a success!