Companies have been using promotional products to drum up exposure for their brands for ages. Branded hats, custom drinkware, and branded apparel are among some of the most popular products leveraged by companies to get the word out.
Such custom merchandise can be very effective in getting the right people to notice your company. However, getting those items into the hands of customers is not always easy.
Trade shows are excellent channels to do so, but they are often seasonal and industry specific.
A company store stocked to the brim with branded promotional merchandise is an ongoing way to extend your brand experience, open a new revenue stream, and grow brand awareness — keeping the exchange of promotional products to fans and customers flowing.
Besides the brand exposure that it will bring in, having a shop that exclusively carries your promotional merchandise is a great way to generate extra revenue for the business.
You may assume that setting up such a store is tedious and expensive, but that is not necessarily true if you know how to do it right. With the availability of online resources and the help of promotional product experts, you can have your store up and running in a short while without spending too much in the process.
Putting Up Your Storefront
Nowadays, there are a number of ways to set up a storefront.
One option is to work with a website designer to add a landing page on your existing site, where consumers can find and purchase your branded items.
Another option is to set up an additional domain or a third party eCommerce platform to host the promotional store exclusively, although managing two separate platforms can be taxing.
A third option, and one we see most commonly, is to set up a physical store either at your business — as a pop-up in your community or during branded events.
Simplicity should be a driving factor when creating this platform. Work with a web designer who understands what you are trying to achieve with the store.
Stranahan's Colorado Whiskey general store
One of our local distillery clients, Stranahan's Colorado Whiskey, stocks their general store at the Denver-based distillery with branded custom merchandise, private label apparel, unique promotional products, and headwear so that customers and fans can take home and extend the brand experience for years to come.
Custom branded lifestyle Stranahan's Colorado Whiskey vest, flannel scarf, and t-shirt available at the General Store at the distillery's Denver location.
Build Out a Shopping Cart and Payment System Fit For Your Brand
If you're going the online route, after deciding where the company shop is going to be hosted, you must decide on an e-commerce software to handle the back end. Here are a few tips:
- You can opt for a self-hosted or hosted application.
- When selecting this application, be clear about your needs. Different shopping cart tools have varying features.
- Decide which tools are must-haves and which ones you can do without. Your aim is to give customers a seamless shopping experience.
- Consider how the software works with any of your existing accounting applications.
The shopping cart has to be connected to an online processing system. Again, the convenience offered to consumers should be your priority. You can use online payment services such as PayPal and Google CheckOut or open an account with a merchant service, like Shopify.
Whatever your choice, analyze the transaction fees to prevent them from eating into your profits.
Offer Your Customers a Custom Merch and Promotional Product Catalog
The type of custom merchandise you choose for your store will have a strong impact on its success, so be thoughtful with this decision.
- Involve your marketing experts to strategize on the direction you want to take the brand's line, and determine the audience you are trying to appeal to.
- Know which products are popular and/or trending with your target audience by consulting with promotional experts. Whether it be a branded water bottle, or a private label hoodie, learn how to best design the products to tell your brand story.
Don’t just buy t-shirts and start printing your logo on them. Do your research to discover which styles and trends resonate with your target audience.
Partnering with an agency can be a great way to determine which products and designs will have the biggest impact for your business. Approach these items as an opportunity to turn the ethos of your brand into tangible items that your customers can connect with.
Next, post professional images of the products you will be selling. Pictures are everything when advertising on online stores because they are the only point of reference for your buyers. Invest in high-quality images that highlight the best features of your branded items.
Customize Your Store
Having a brand store is an additional reinforcement for your brand identity, so take the time to cultivate one. The items you sell in this shop should speak to the big-picture story your brand is trying to tell, and the appearance of your storefront should be a strong reflection of that.
Think about the color scheme, graphics, and images you display. Customize the subtle details to provide a consistent brand experience for your visitors.
Direct Traffic to Your Store
Now that your company shop is ready, it's time to put effort into driving traffic to your brand merchandising.
- Start with making the product names and descriptions search-engine friendly. With so many enterprises selling promotional merchandise out there, you have to find an edge.
- Invest in SEO research to find the most searched terms. Incorporate these keywords in product descriptions without overdoing it.
- Note that an increase in traffic on the company shop benefits the whole site.
- If you're building a physical store, create branded signage directing customers to the store throughout the company in visible areas. Consider running online advertisements for the store and placing a banner ad on your company website.
- For both options of storefronts, running a social media campaign to encourage website or foot traffic.
- Recommend those who purchase your branded goods to tag the company on their social media accounts for increased brand exposure and reach.
- Discounted prices can also help lure customers to your store. Offer coupons and exclusive discount codes to your visitors.
- Gift cards and/or promo codes are also very useful in attracting traffic.
- Linking your store’s page to your social media pages can also help. Through hashtags, mentions, and shares, you can generate a lot of interest for your branded products.
Why You Need a Company Store for Your Promotional Merchandise
You can never have enough exposure for your brand, and a storefront is strong channel to help drive it. When one person sees a well-designed coffee mug with your company’s logo and asks, “Which company is this?” You've already initiated contact with a potential consumer.
When the same person follows up with a question like, "What do they do?" or, "Where are they located?" your recognition gets another boost.
Promotional products are a powerful tool for people to learn more about your business.
Keeping track of who is ordering what items are used internally for promotional purposes can be a bit difficult, especially for large companies.
At larger corporate companies, different teams -- sometimes at different locations -- can all get the latest items from one location. Additionally, there is the ease of ordering from an online store or through a centralized location.
If you have a team on the road at a trade show or an industry event, your online store offers the convenience of ordering promotional goods from their mobile devices. Online tracking and in-store purchases can be recorded and coded properly so you can keep dibs on where, when, who are ordering and using your items.
Another benefit of having a company store is that it allows you to maintain brand consistency.
In some instances, your marketing or sales team may be using old logos or the off-brand colors or fonts to reach potential clients. Having a single source for your company's promotional products that have been designed with the official branding guidelines, gives you the power to tell a cohesive story across all your company.
Brand merchandising can bring valuable returns when it is done right. Brand stores either online or in real life have become popular methods of managing and distributing promotional items, both internally and externally to your audience.
Curate a collection of branded products that elicit positive reactions by enhancing the lives of your consumers, and sell them in your online storefront. Tell your brand's unique story through promotional products.