Marketers understand that branded merchandise has the power to extend a brand’s reach, to motivate employees and connect with consumers. Ultimately the goal of any brand is to connect with an audience and develop relationships. In an age where we receive a daily barrage of messages and ads, tangible merchandise in the hands of your target audience is more powerful than ever before.
The biggest challenge for organizations of any significant size is effective access, distribution and accounting. Most companies only place bulk orders for events or have marketing closets packed with gear, but this method makes distribution to the entire target audience next to impossible. In order empower an entire organization, track usage and measure results, companies need to implement a more sophisticated system to achieve maximum ROI.
Determine how you will streamline success. An online company store can provide instant access to the entire target audience. Online access eliminates calls to the marketing department or digging through marketing closets.
Establish approved merchandise. If each division of your company is ordering from numerous vendors, your brand is most likely being abused. You will want to control branding at the corporate level through your online company store.
Develop the different rules, levels of access, custom payment methods and other features that relate directly to your business requirements. This will require a flexible system capable of being customized to meet your requirements. This typically involves discussions across multiple departments.
Develop a system for tracking and measuring results. A properly built online company store should give you access to all of the order history, usage data and reporting information you need, online in real-time. You will also need to determine any custom data or reports that should be added to your online reporting system. Without easy access to real-time reporting, you will never be able to properly measure the success of your store.
So where do you go from here? The biggest mistake most companies make is working with a vendor that lacks experience, resources and proper capabilities to implement an effective online company store. Putting a shopping cart online easy, but best-in-class e-commerce is very difficult. Make sure you partner with a vendor whose core competency is the distribution of branded merchandise through their own online company store platform.