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What Is an Online Company Store?

Posted by Kevin Slot

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Nov 13, 2014 3:45:00 PM

Online Ordering System? Internal Web Store? Franchise Supplies Store?

As a provider of online company stores, I talk with a lot of CEOs and marketing people who are interested in some sort of online ordering system for their managers in other locations to use for ordering branded marketing materials and supplies, but many people don't know what this ordering solution is called. The most common name is an "online company store" or just "company store".

Online Company StoresThe following information is intended to help define and explain the practical uses so that you can have a starting point for looking further into solutions for your company's needs. 

What is an online company store?

Most companies go to great lengths to create and develop a consolidated marketing plan. The goal of the corporate office is to leverage marketing dollars by keeping every location and every employee on a focused and consistent message about the company and its products or services. Naturally, this goal includes all of the company's printed marketing materials, sometimes referred to as print collateral, advertising specialties, promotional products, and even apparel. A problem arises, however, with the manufacturing and delivering of these marketing materials in an affordable manner when multiple locations are involved. The solution? A custom designed online company store.

Simply put, on online company store is a one-stop shop where your location managers and other authorized users can place direct online orders for branded promotional products, shirts and printed marketing pieces that have been approved at the corporate level. There is no more need for your managers to search for local printing vendors, utilize cumbersome paper order sheets or end up on interminable phone calls. The company store can be used to order branded items produced on demand or to order releases for branded items in inventory.

What are the benefits of online company stores?

There are a host of reasons to develop and use an online company store. It allows the marketing department at headquarters to maintain a consistent image and promote a uniform, identified corporate message across the entire organiCompany Storeszation. In addition, it is more versatile than the traditional way of doing things as changes to the marketing materials need only be implemented at the administrative “online store” level and then simple notifications can be generated to the location managers to alert them that the new version is available in the store. In cases where the company store is provided by a business that also produces all the marketing materials some economies of scale make an online store more economical in the long run. Lastly, the use of an online store promotes complete accountability in your managers as you can track who orders what, when and how often.

Who creates and manages a custom company store?

Some print distributors or promotional product dealers offer online company stores as one of their services sometimes at little to no cost depending on your anticipated annual purchase levels. The initial set-up of the company store takes some time and effort, but once the initial templates are established and images are created and uploaded, adding new items is relatively quick and easy. Training can be done in a group meeting or online. Location managers are then free to order according to their needs and corporate policy. The materials are produced and then drop shipped to the appropriate location(s).

How big does my company need to be to justify setting up a company store?

As recently as 5 years ago you might need to have an annual marketing materials spend of $100,000 or more to qualify, but today if you are spending as little as $5,000 - $10,000 or more, an online company store can provide you with an affordable, wider range of products – the technology is that good – in more colors, styles and customized designs than ever before. 

Online company stores simplify the entire sourcing, ordering and distributing processes, plus provide control of expenses and the appearance of your brand.  Contact a company store provider to discover how a company store can be tailored to meet your company's needs.

 What is your biggest need that a company store might fulfill? 

 

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