Thanks for joining us for the second part of our three part FAQ series on fleshing out what an online company store is. Often referred to as a webstore, eCommerce site, or a swag shop, it's the online solution to the age-old challenge of managing a storage room of branded merch for a Sales or HR Team that has little to no visibility on the marketing and engagement assets at their disposal. Continuing reading to learn the answers to the questions that arise surrounding store benefits, uses, and setup.
1. What Are the benefits of an online Company store?
Ultimately, the purpose of an online company store is to effectively distribute branded merchandise. Many organizations barely scratch the surface of what could be achieved with an effective branded merchandise strategy - a company store can change that.
A dynamic online company store platform can streamline processes. By providing ease of access to all of your branded materials, end users or intended recipients no longer have to contact your Marketing Team to request collateral. Pre-approved items are online and readily available for your employees to order. This greatly increases the adoption of branded merchandise - the only form of marketing your target market thanks you for.
An online company store allows a company to cut down on administrative tasks. Instead of receiving cumbersome shipments of swag that need unboxing, sorting, assembling, and displaying for your Team to use, we handle all kitting and storage at our fulfillment center. Then, once the items are in stock, we make them available for users to order on the online company store. This allows employees to stay focused on what they were hired to do originally.
Brand abuse is also rampant in the world of promotional merchandise and custom apparel. When companies do not have proper brand controls in place, various locations and departments may end up unknowingly ordering from sketchy vendors, order low quality products, use the wrong fonts, and send in bad or outdated logo files. Embroidery quality will also be compromised without a centralized and corporate-approved embroidery file being used. An online company store eliminates all of these problems; each item is carefully selected and approved at the corporate level, then the item is offered to the entire organization.
To get the most out of your branded merchandise, you will also want to reduce costs wherever possible. This can be accomplished easily with an online company store by:
- Consolidating Your Purchasing Power. Rather than letting various departments and business units order from a variety of vendors, an online company store allows you to consolidate your spend with your primary vendor. This means that you’ll be able to leverage higher order volumes in your negotiations.
- Eliminating Minimum Order Quantities. Company stores allow users to order the exact quantities they need; even if that’s just a single item. This prevents, for example, a Salesperson having to order the manufacturer’s minimum quantity, which might be a higher amount than they need. As a result, this reduces inventory carrying liabilities.
- Improving Cost Reporting & Insights. An online company store will allow you to more prudently allocate costs throughout your organization. By capturing data from each online store purchase, you will be able to better allocate advertising budgets throughout your organization and have better insight into the most popular products on your store.
2. Applications of an online company store
- Personal Purchases. If you’ve built a brand that employees (or others) love, you will want to provide ways for them to show their corporate spirit and enthusiasm. Allowing individuals to express their fandom for your brand can turn them into brand ambassadors. Branded apparel like baseball caps and t-shirts, or useful items like drinkware and umbrellas, are a great way to do this. For many brands, extending this beyond employees to customers or affiliates can lead to an exponential increase in brand advocates.
- Corporate Purchases. If your company is spread across many departments and locations which all need access to branded merchandise, having an online company store brings many benefits including streamlining processes, bulk order discounts, and branding consistency.
- Awards & Incentives. An online company store gift code (or gift certificate) system is a fantastic way to distribute funds to employees, as a form of recognition. The gift certificates can be used as payment on purchases made on the online company store. If the value of goods in their cart exceeds the value of the gift certificate, the store will prompt user to pay the difference by credit card. Employees who choose to accrue gift codes will be able to apply multiple codes to an order. We recommend sending out gift codes to employees when a store first launches to generate excitement, boost morale, and provide an opportunity to educate the organization on how to order.
- HR & Recruitment. An online company store can also be used to send new hire or recruiting packages. Simply designate your approved purchaser(s) - whomever you'd like to grant access to ordering those kits from the site.
- Office Supplies. Essential items for the desk such as sticky notes, pens, notebooks, etc. can be branded with a corporate logo and ordered from the online company store. For remote employees, work from home kits are an ideal way to ensure employees have what they need to be successful in their home office.
3. Store Setup - the fun part!
- Select a URL. The first thing you’ll need to decide on is the URL you would like to use for your online company store. Common examples include www.companynamestore.com, shop.companyname.com, or store.companyname.com.
- Establishing Permissions. Next you need to decide on the permissions you want for the users of your store. The standard setup is an open website that anyone on the world wide web can access, checkout on, and submit a payment on. Additional permission levels can be implemented for you to designate internal users who are allowed to allocate the order to an internal department, budget, GL, or PO, thereby bypassing credit card payment. We also offer Guest Checkout which caters to organizations who may want outside users such as customers, dealers, distributors, and fans to be able to place orders on the site. Password protected stores are also an option, allowing store administrators to require that users log in to access the store and its product catalog.
- Payment Methods. While our platform accepts all major credit cards, the most successful online company stores designate funds for various departments such Marketing, Events, Human Resources, Sales, and so forth. On our platform, we can establish budgets for individuals and departments, which prevent them from spending more than their budget will accommodate. We also can increase and reduce a budget as necessary.
- Institute An Approval Process. While Order Approvals are not required, they can be useful to ensure that employees are wisely using the resources accessible to them. When a new user places an order, for example, the order can be placed on hold and routed to the appropriate decision maker or manager for approval. Once the order is approved, the hold is released and the order moves forward towards fulfillment and shipping.
- Configure Shipping Preferences. Typically we set up our stores to ship on our shipper account number, passing on our pre-negotiated rates with UPS and USPS to your company. However, you are more than welcome to use your own FedEx or UPS account, if you prefer.
Thanks for reading Part 2 of our 3-part FAQ! Watch this space for Part 3.
Get in touch today.