Stock Or Shop?

One of the most important questions with new and existing customers is the decision of when to implement (or eliminate) a promotional products stocking program.  Over the next few weeks, I will explore the question of when it makes sense to stock pre-decorated items in a supplier warehouse for on-demand shipping, and when it’s better to shop, and purchase, these products as they are needed.

Promotional products fulfillment programs are designed to increase customer service and reduce product demand uncertainty. And, while it’s tempting to consider the annual corporate spend on branded merchandise as an easy guide to answer this question, I would argue that even when that figure points to a stock and ship solution, careful analysis of the following considerations will often change the size and scope of that program.  A few of the key indicators for consideration of a stocking program:

  • Different corporate buyers repeatedly purchase the same type of promotional product for marketing events
  • Quantity of product needed is often below the standard vendor minimums for on-demand production, resulting in over-buying, over-budget
  • Decentralized purchasing structure that opens the door for duplication of vendor service charges and employee time squandered on tasks not associated with their assigned duties
  • Employee uniform program requires implementation expertise
  • Logo standards are being neglected

Both the customer and the vendor have important reasons to build a multi-dimensional program model that successfully services the end users.  There are many on-line tools and logistics solutions that can be combined to meet the unique needs of the individual corporate customer, such as tiered pricing structures, multi-location budget management, and creative distribution options.

When the above criteria for analyzing the value of a stocking program applies, it follows that a professionally managed fulfillment program makes sense.  But what about the corporate customer who uses branded merchandise as part of their overall marketing strategy, but doesn’t fit this model?   I’ll explore the various reasons to shop vs stock in next Monday’s blog!

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