Promotional product fulfillment programs that can offer a variety of branded products with no stock exposure may not be the conventional model for company stores, but it is a concept whose time has come.
As corporate procurement departments are continually working to drive the costs out of these programs, their vendor partners have an obligation to explore different ways to make that happen. There are many ways to achieve cost savings – operational process improvements; creative product sourcing; aggressive price negotiation; and attention to freight costs are a few. However, the way to offer the most relief from that dreaded end-of-year obsolete inventory exposure is to design a program that reduces, or eliminates, logo product stock.
Distributors can forge partnerships directly with product suppliers, process orders through a custom web site designed to integrate with those suppliers, and ship directly from the supplier warehouses. Or, there are 3rd party vendors that offer that same service, along with impressive web platforms, to fill the void for distributors that want to focus more on client service than web site management. In either case, since the product is stored, decorated and shipped on demand from the manufacturer, the corporate customer has no inventory exposure and the distributor has no need to consider financing, storing and shipping the product from their own warehouse as part of the end product price.
Of course, the program dynamics will change a bit with this model. Lead times will increase – same-day or next-day shipping will not be possible without pre-decorated merchandise. The price to produce one piece of embroidered apparel will not be the same as the cost of running 12 pieces. Hard goods (pens, cups, bags) will have minimum order quantities. (Although, the truth is, the price of shipping one coffee mug is very costly and is a practice that should be eliminated from corporate purchasing habits anyway.)
Corporate customers want a logo store program solution that will offer cost savings, quality products and a service level that provides the internal buyers with a positive user experience. No-stock fulfillment programs is a concept that can provide that solution when executed correctly, with the expectations addressed and communicated thoroughly with all stakeholders. Discuss the possibilities with your promotional product provider – it may be time for a change!