Easy Does It

easyIt may be true that not much in life is easy, but when corporate customers launch a promotional merchandise fulfillment program, it is the duty of the distributor partner to make it appear that way.

In this case, appearances should be a bit deceiving, since, in fact, to design a user-friendly, budget-conscious, logistically innovative on-line corporate store requires a great deal of research, planning and focused management of countless details.

To begin the process, nothing can happen before an anlaysis is performed of past customer purchasing trends.  What do they buy? How often? In what quantities? (to name a few of the more obvious questions).  Does everyone have internet access?  Are there department budgets to consider and track? Do purchases require management approval? (moving on with a few considerations that may be less apparent).

And the background due diligence is only the beginning of a long building process that moves from research to web design, order management, storage and packaging, and final product delivery.   All stages of the process – from proposing the program to fulfilling the orders – must be thoroughly analyzed and impeccably executed.  I view the work of the program management team as the engineering, design and build process that will eventually become the final structure in which all of the work will take place.

But, back to the easy part.  The reason program RFP’s are issued and contracts are executed is so that the corporate marketing and procurement departments don’t have to manage all those details.  Once a supplier partner has been chosen, the sometimes confusing and complicated process of launching a logo products store should be seamless.   The distributor takes care of the day to day challenges of moving branded products to the end recipients, and the corporate administrator should only need to allocate an hour or so each month to review the progress of the program with the account manager.  If the client begins fielding calls about product quality, web site ineffciencies or shipping delays, then process improvements are in order.

Consider how your current program is operating, and if it isn’t easy for you, the customer, then schedule a time to meet with your program manager to discuss how to get things back on track.