The demand for company stores seems to be on the rise. I a world where everyone is looking for convenience, for a company to have their branded merchandise readily available for their staff to get, will not only streamline their internal processes but also protect their brand integrity. This is especially beneficial for large organizations with multiple locations.
But providing company store services is a whole different ball of wax that selling promotional products “on demand”. It can be challenging for the home-based solo distributor, used to doing everything him/herself. But it is certainly worth considering.
A Great Service Offering For Your Business.
Providing company store services is a tremendous opportunity for business growth. But it has to be a strategic decision, not a reaction to a client’s request. There is a lot of work involved. From identifying your client’s functionality requirements to researching platforms, it will take time away from your day to day taking care of your clients. It makes sense to take all that you’ve learned and sell it over and over again.
As far a solutions, if you are ambitious, you can build a company store using an ecommerce platform such as woocommerce or shopify. However, although we provide web design, I prefer to go with a specialized company. They have all the variations of ways people can purchase from the store built in. They also have all the reporting your client will ever want. In short, all the possible case scenarios are contemplated. No need to reinvent the wheel.
Once you have done all that research and come up with your service offering, market it proactively. Don’t keep it a secret! Create a marketing campaign to promote it. If there is an increasing need, you’ll be attracting those clients!
Know What You Are Getting Into
A few years back, in my distributor days, my sales guy landed an appointment with a marketing director who happened to be looking to set up a store. We had a hand full of small clients we did very simple stores for, but these guys had locations worldwide so this was a much bigger deal.
I consulted with my business coach and advisor, and realized this was a lot more complicated that I thought. There was so much I needed to know before putting out a proposal! I could end up losing my shirt!
I decided to reach out to Brightstores, a company that specializes in industry company stores, and it turned out the best decision I could have made. They were most helpful in educating me about the ins and outs of what was involved. I basically took their proposal and used it as a guide to create mine.
Price The Service Correctly
There are a lot of costs involved in setting up and maintaining a company store for your clients. It is important to take them into account and set yur fees accordingly.
Some of the critical things that must be defined ahead of time include:
– Your client must pay for the items when they are ordering them for the store.
– Charges for storage, packing and handling of the merchandise.
– Minimum quantity they want to keep in the store, and automatic reorders when the minimum is reached.
– How to dispose of items they won’t be reordering anymore but still have a bunch left.
– Do they want you to promote the store to their employees via email?
– Do they want people to pay as they order?
– and many more…
The point is, you really need to do your homework thoroughly. You must know what’s involved and how to price the services correctly. This way you’ll ensure the delivery of a positive client experience, while you make money.
Do You Really Want To Do This?
At the end of the day, the decision is not so much selecting a platform for your company store service, nor should be based upon one individual client’s request. It must be a strategic decision of whether or not you want to head down that road as a company and make the necessary investment of time and money involved.
For us, this client was looking to have their employees purchase the items with their own money. They thought since everyone wanted their $60 polo shirts, they would all want to buy them. I thought they were mistaken and recommended they did a survey, which they did. Turned out people loved all the cool items if they were free. They were not interested in buying them. So they canceled the store project.
But I did earn the client’s business, and I’m convinced my thorough presentation and -newly acquired- knowledge is what won me the business.
I must admit, I was relieved when they decided not to go with the store. As attractive as that sounded, that was not the way I wanted to grow my business. I had already owned a fulfillment business, so I knew I didn’t want that at that point in my life. So it all worked out for me.
But it is something definitely worth considering. It will give your business an edge over your competition, and lock in a nice chunk of repeat business.
If you get into it, make sure it’s on purpose.