Today's segment wraps up our three part FAQ series on explaining the ins and outs of an online company store. Whether you're looking for an online platform for employee uniforms, years of service awards, safety recognition, wellness program rewards, to provide motivation to achieve sales goals, show appreciation for a job well done, or need a better way to distribute your holiday gifts, an online company store may be for you.
1. Users & PermissionsThe most well thought out company stores are designed to effectively serve different audiences for different purposes. Over time, as your online company store blossoms and takes on more functions, creating User Groups can be a great way to section off certain parts of the store while ensuring that designated users have appropriate access to the store. At infancy your online company store might be used only by the Marketing or Sales but when other departments, such as H.R., Safety, Wellness, etc. see the efficiencies it creates, they too may wish to utilize it. Different departments can be granted permissions to see only certain categories and products on the site by leveraging User Groups. Some of the other benefits of User Groups include:
- Pricing – show different prices for various user groups.
- Visibility – control which groups see which products. This can be useful if, for example, a Sales Team should be given access to new client gifts that the H.R. Department doesn't necessarily need to see.
- Payment Customization – create custom payment methods for specific user groups to bypass credit card payment and allow them to allocate orders to a department, cost center, GL code, etc.
2. Deciding what goes on the store
Before providing a selection of recommended products for your online company store, we will meet with you to learn about brand guidelines, the items you have ordered in the past, gather information about who will be utilizing the store, how items will be used, the organization’s target demographic, and anything else you feel is relevant to the store's success. We’ll also show you some of the items that have worked well in our other online company stores and the brands we offer.
From there, it is collaboration between you and our Team which will prune down the product options for your store. While it's important that there are enough products to choose from on the store, sometimes less is more. When a Salesperson logs on the store to pick out a polo shirt for his appointment next month, s/he won't want to scroll through 10 pages of very similar polo shirts that could have been narrowed down to the top three. During this time, we’ll answer any questions you have and ship requested product samples to you for your review.
Once the items are finalized, our Team will need about 4-5 weeks to add the products, set pricing, load descriptions, and produce any inventory you may want to keep on-hand in our fulfillment center. During this time, you can begin finalizing your online store launch strategy. As discussed in Part 2 of this FAQ, 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.
What Items Are Available?
If you can think of it, there's a 99% chance we can source it! Popular categories include apparel, drinkware, office accessories, bags, travel gear, and tech accessories.
Who Decides What Items Go on the Store?
You! Our Team will make recommendations and guide you towards the products that work well in online company stores and accompany our suggestions with product samples and customized presentations. However, we will only add items to your store that you or your company has approved.
How Often Can I Refresh the Store?
You can request updates to your store whenever you see fit. We are at the ready to assist whether it be to add a new item, product category, or to assist in the coordination of a special event or project.
Inventory vs. On-Demand Production
When selecting your branded merchandise you’ll have the option to stock items at our fulfillment center or to produce items on-demand. Many well oiled company stores feature a hybrid of in-stock and on-demand items. It is important to consider the needs of your online company store users — the volume they typically order, the frequency of their orders, and how you plan to distribute funds to users.
- With bulk orders being brought in prior to store launch, users can order exactly the quantity they need, which is often less than the manufacturer's minimum order quantity, and allows them to order just 1 of any in-stock item.
- Users do not have to plan weeks in advance to account for production times, letting them take advantage of last-minute opportunities to utilize branded merchandise.
- Creates a quasi instant gratification retail buying experience.
- Add items to your store with no upfront cost.
- No minimum order quantities on embroidered apparel, bags, blankets, towels, select technology, and digitally printed t-shirts.
Adding Kits to Your Online Company Store
Custom kits make a great first impression and give the recipient something to remember your company by. Types of kits include:
- Training Kits
- New Hire Kits
- Recruiting Kits
- Wellness Program Kits
- New Client Kits
Kits can be pre-assembled in custom packaging and held in inventory at our fulfilment center. Or, you can create kits from various items on your store and we'll kit them on-demand.
3. Go Live and On-Going Follow-Up
You've put in the hard yards and now the store is ready to launch! You'll want to capitalize on the excitement, possibly with a series of several emails, as well as the use of coupons or gift codes. It's a good idea to have a plan in place to educate internal users who have customized permissions on the store. We are more than happy to meet with your Team to provide a how-to demonstration or provide assistance in creating guides, support documentation, or video tutorials.
Handling Store Maintenance
Who's responsible for the heavy lifting? Yours truly. This includes hosting the website, eCommerce maintenance, photography, warehousing, order fulfillment, product sourcing, and production. What do we need from you? A designated representative at your organization responsible for new item selection and approving orders to replenish inventory. With our solution, Low Inventory Reports are generated regularly to identify any items that may need restocking. We will also present you with new branded merchandise that we think would be a good fit on your store and support your brand.
Reporting & Analytics
At the beginning of each month we will provide reports based on your preferences. Standard store reporting includes monthly order history, inventory levels, budget usage (if applicable), and any rebate programs that may be in place. This gives you the ability to drill down into the data and make informed decisions. In addition to these reports our Team can help you create any customized reports you’d like to add.
Thanks for following us through this three part FAQ on online company stores! We look forward to servicing you with a customized store built for your needs.
Get in touch today.