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How Santa automated the Christmas wish list [video]

By replacing handwritten letters, the world’s favorite toymaker optimized his ordering, production, and distribution process.

Every December, kids sit down, get out their red and green markers, unroll half a mile of paper, and start making demands:

Dear Santa, I’ve been very good this year. Can you please bring me everything I’ve seen on TV for the past two months.

It’s a long list. And for the CEO of Christmas, the whole gift-ordering process was starting to feel like a recurring case of frostbite.

Here are some facts from last year:

  • Santa received over 620 million letters from kids around the world.

  • Parents spent over a quarter of a million dollars on postage stamps alone.

  • Over 2,500 tons of paper—nearly 50,000 trees—were used in the process.

  • And Santa personally answered zero of these children’s letters. (If you’re a kid reading this, the response you got from Santa was faked by your parents—sorry.)

It’s not because he doesn’t care. It’s because Santa’s still working with pre-Internet tools and processes.

Until this year, when Santa had a sugar-coated breakthrough.

See the video for yourself:

Typeform Stories — Santa Claus

Santa’s silent stress

Think of all the work Santa and his elves do around the holidays. Making toys for girls and boys—or more common these days, a trip to Amazon.com or the local Walmart.

Then there’s the delivery. Zipping from house to house on a flying sled, squeezing down chimneys, and getting home in time for Christmas breakfast with Mrs. Claus.

All in all, his old routine just wasn’t cutting it. After 200 years of success, the world’s favorite gift-giver was starting to slip up.

Santa recalls a particularly tough season:

One year, we lost a stack of letters during a blizzard. Blew straight off the sleigh. I had no way of recalling who ordered what. Larry the logistics elf was steamed.

He continues:

“Another year, I accidentally spilled eggnog on a couple letters. It was a bit strong on the brandy and, well, irrelevant detail, nevermind. Anyways, I couldn’t read the list, so I just threw some surprises under the trees. Turns out kids aren’t into board games these days.”

And even when letters do arrive intact, they’re not always easy to interpret.

Four-year-olds are so sweet, but their handwriting is like a reindeer hoof holding a pen.

Even if Santa and his elves have got better at decoding schoolchildren’s scribbles, they still don’t have the resources to return a personal response. As one elf whispered to me in private:

You have no idea how many kids are disappointed when they don’t get a letter back from Santa.

Fixing any of these problems would take a Christmas miracle. And that’s exactly what he got.

The solution that saved Christmas

Last year, Ernie, N.P. event elf, was organizing a trip to the first annual conference on “The Future of Christmas.” To help everyone pick hotel and meal preferences, Ernie made a typeform. It was so easy to fill out, and it made the whole event a huge success.

It was a red-nosed moment for Santa. A virtual glimpse on how to augment the future of Christmas: a Santa’s letter typeform.

Santa and Ernie got to work. They took advantage of a few features, like customized design, File upload, and integrations with other online tools.

And here’s just a few of the benefits:

1. Data integrity

No misplaced notes, no handwriting mysteries. Every child’s demand arrives categorized in the typeform database. And the delivery is instant, so the workshop can start crafting right away.

2. Time saved

Santa used Zapier to hook it up to Trello, which automatically separates kids into different lists if they’ve been naughty or nice. That saved over 250,000 elf-hours this month.

3. Personalized joy

They also set up a Zap with MailChimp. Now, every single kid gets a personalized email from Santa when they send their wish list. The response is automated, but it feels personal, bringing a whole new moment of joy to the annual process.

4. Environment hugged

And of course there’s the trees. The data-crunching department at North Pole HQ estimates they’ve saved close to 40,000 hardwoods this year.

And parents love it too.

It’s already a record year for Santa. With still two weeks before Christmas, Santa’s received nearly 580 million typeform responses. But he also knows that about 12,000 kids have submitted twice. Naughty, naughty.

In the past, he’d be swimming in stress and spiked eggnog. But this year, it’s all under wraps. And it’s given Santa more quality time to spend with Mrs. Claus and the elves over the holidays.

What about you? Could your data collection use a Christmas miracle?

How Santa did it

1) Bring your typeform to life with Picture choice questions

The new Santa letter is full of colorful pictures to help guide children to their dream gifts. You can do the same with Picture choice questions.

2) Let people send you pics and docs with File upload

Kids can send pics of exactly what they want using the File upload question.

Share your typeform through a link, embed it in a website, shout it out through social media. It’s easy! Learn more about how to distribute your typeform.

4) Connect Typeform to your favorite tools

Typeform might be the most attractive, intuitive way to gather responses. But you can make it so much more powerful by integrating your data with your favorite apps and online tools.

And of course let us know if you have any questions! Our team is always here to help.

Want to spread some cheer in the office? Use our Secret Santa Template or Character Creator Template and be the star on the office tree

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