How to Set Up a Company Store for Your Client
Opening a company store can help your client in a variety of ways, from raising brand awareness to raising money for a cause. You want to make things as easy as possible for employees and customers to get branded merchandise, and selling it in a company store is one of the easiest ways to accomplish that goal.
Online stores have become so commonplace, you do not need to be a tech whiz to get started. But you do need to understand your client’s goals and how a store can meet them. Just like the store itself, the most critical work happens on the back end—the parts the customer does not see but which are essential to success.
Learn Your Options
Good company stores offer promotional products, uniforms and general branded merchandise. This is going to be dependent on what your clients’ needs are, but I always like to have different types of products for areas of the country and the seasons.
To make sure your customer has the best type of company store, you must determine their goals. That can range from driving brand awareness to ensuring employee uniform compliance, or raising money for a cause or company need. in addition to the client’s needs, make sure you assess your own team’s skill-set as to which platform you should use when picking a company store provider for your customer.
While you do not have to be tech-savvy to open an online store, you should at least become familiar with the different types of platforms in our industry before you provide your customer with a recommendation. There are basic company store platforms and enterprise-level solutions that offer a multitude of advanced options. With some platforms, you must do all the set-up work yourself, while some providers will build a store for you and charge a fee.
For a quick solution, you will want to use an off-the-shelf platform to build a site for your client. I would avoid using non-industry e-commerce platforms as they require additional time to set up and you must spend time uploading the products that the industry providers already have loaded into our systems. This can also be time and cost prohibitive.
As you create the store, make sure it clearly outlines the time a typical order will take and the available delivery methods, along with a clear, concise FAQ section (Frequently Asked Questions). Besides your standard phone number and contact information, I recommend setting up a dedicated team member, email and phone number for all company stores so get the best customer service. Questions can come up on the company’s products and the site itself, so make sure your team knows both.
Before the store opens, I make sure all team members go through the same experience an end-user will go through, so they understand the site and how to help.
After opening, you should closely monitor the site engagement and orders in the first month after launch, including marketing and education to ensure customer satisfaction. I like to follow the first few orders operationally in case there are any special branding requirements or options. With your client, every site should have a goal for the number of items sold or total sales so you are prepared for the sales. You and your client should be jointly driving those metrics for mutual success.
Opening an Effective Store
When you are ready to open the company store, here are a few key tips to remember:
• Early on, identify some of the requests that could come up. For example, if a health care company wants to give product vouchers to their employees, make sure your company store can accommodate such a request.
• There are multiple types of company store providers and not all are created equal. Here at Fully Promoted, we have company stores and websites that are free and others that cost thousands of dollars a month to maintain. Determine which provider best fits your needs.
• If you are setting up a site for a nonprofit that requires a rebate back to the underlying worthy cause (501c type), make sure you set up your books up accordingly from a tax and income perspective.
• Getting all the images for a company store and the details of pricing and sizes is often underestimated. Taking the time to prepare all of this prior to building a company store is critical to shortening the time of building the actual store.
Mike Brugger is president of Fully Promoted, a full-service branded products and marketing services business. With nearly three decades of experience in the promotional products industry, he was recognized in the Power 50 ranking of Advertising Specialty Institute (ASI) for his expertise, foresight and compelling results during a time when the industry experienced some of its toughest challenges. Under his leadership, Fully Promoted has ranked among the industry’s largest companies. Fully Promoted is part of the family of brands affiliated with the United Franchise Group, the global leader for entrepreneurs.