Frequently Asked Questions

What is an online company store?

An online company store is a software solution, that is built to provide easy access to pre-approved marketing materials and branded merchandise across large organizations.  Regardless of geography or time zones, employees and/or partners can get the things they need when they need it.

What is the setup process for an online company store?

Before we outline who, what and how each phase of implementation takes, rest assured that your team should spend no more than 2-3 hours total.  We know you already have a lot on your plate, so our team does all the heavy lifting.

Program implementation begins with;

  • General Capabilities Presentation – tour a few different demo stores to get an overview of capability and functionality.
  • Deep Dive Discovery – an in-depth discussion to determine full project scope, ie: categories that will be included, branding and site content, on-demand or warehouse/fulfillment, budgets and financing, permissions and approval levels, approval routing, communications and marketing for the site.
  • Now our team has enough to create an SOW (Statement of Work) and an SLA (Service Level Agreement) along with a quote for approval.
  • Product Selection/Artwork File building: 3 options. Showroom tours | Story boards of most popular products in a good/better/best | Basic starter package. Collect and table all art files/sewouts.
  • Site Development: 2-4 weeks depending on complexity and size.
  • User Acceptance Testing: 2 week window is typical.
  • Training: Attend a one-time web conference which can be recorded for future reference and team on-boarding.
  • Launch: After a thumbs up from you, allow 1 business day to activate the site.
How is an online company store program managed?

Software on it’s own doesn’t solve the sourcing, distribution, and day-to-day management challenges that a full program can.  Proforma SI provides the resources you need to provide a total solution.  We build the software and we provide each program with a dedicated team to deliver end-to-end management.

How does an online company store program save us money?

There are several ways an online company store saves money.  Take advantage of our buying power, 500 million $ worth.  Volume discounts based on annual spend not individual order size.  Eliminates procurement time and puts your teams back to their core competency initiatives.  We estimate that this could be as high as 15 hours per order.  With our on-demand programs, there is no waste associated with obsolete products.  No upfront inventory investment makes these programs the most popular choice. Read this article for more information:  How Does an Online Company Store Save You Money?

How does an online company store program reduce errors?

All the products offered on an online store program are pre-approved by your team upfront.  We work with you to understand all the logo guidelines with 100% accuracy, colours, fonts, sizes, approved placements.  We collect or create all the art files for the program and store them.  This means that when orders are actually placed art file transfers and proofs are no longer necessary.  We provide sew-outs and pre-production samples which are approved before launching the program.  By the time the program launches orders are ‘repeat’ orders – no approvals necessary.  Potential errors and costly mistakes have been eliminated.

How does an online company store program help cash flow?

Due to huge improvements in production processes in our industry, near lightning speed turn around has changed things dramatically.  In the past, most online company store programs were supported through warehouse/fulfillment solutions.  Today most of our programs are on-demand which means that the need to purchase upfront inventory has completely been eliminated.  This pay as you go model has significant impact on your bottom line and cash flow.

How does an online company store program save time?

The beauty of an online store program is that you are basically outsourcing the entire procurement process.  All of the setup is done at the front end.  Once complete, the store automates the ordering process.  Your teams can log onto the store, see what is available and order what they need in less than 5 minutes.  Compare this to researching ideas on google, requesting samples from multiple vendors, negotiating pricing with multiple vendors, tracking down appropriate art files, reviewing and approving proofs, placing orders, follow up’s, tracking delivery.  This process represents approximately 15 hours per order.  Multiple this the number of employees across the organization and the order frequency and it adds up to a significant amount of time.  For one of our online store clients this represented 30 hours per month.  With an online company store program, Proforma SI’s team takes care of all of that for you, putting your teams back to work on core initiatives.

What are the pros and cons of a managed program vs. buying everything ad hoc?

The pros of having a managed program are many and include; volume discounts by centralizing the purchasing across the organization, controlling spend with permission based access and buying rules.  Eliminates rogue or unauthorized purchasing.  Complete control of your brand, with approved use of your logo, quality of products and the soft costs associated with order fulfillment and day-to-day management of the products, orders, online site, users.  If your organization doesn’t purchase branded merchandise or very little, for example a few times a year, then an online company store program would not make sense.

Which type of program is a better fit for our company? Inventory/Fulfillment (pre-purchased) OR On-Demand (just in time inventory)?

Proforma SI offers both types of programs and for some of our clients the best fit is a combination of both.  This is not a one size fits all.  We have the agility and flexibility to create custom programs and we’ll help you to determine what fits you best.

For most companies, the most compelling reason to consider an On-Demand program is to eliminate the tens of thousands of dollars associated with carrying inventory.  There is no risk of waste due to obsolete products.  Consider the investment of purchasing upfront inventory for a uniform program as an example.  The number of sku’s, colours, size ranges required, housed in a warehouse awaiting fulfillment.  What if a particular colour or size doesn’t move?  What happens to the stored inventory if the logo or branding changes even in the slightest way?  Factor in too, the costs associated with warehousing, pick-pack fees.

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What kind of companies set up an online company store program?

An online company store program is a perfect solution for any company with multiple locations or a manufacturer that relies on distributors or dealers to sell their products.  Any organization that is reliant on marketing collateral, uniforms, safety equipment, branded merchandise (swag for events) for daily operations is a great fit for an online store program.  Employees or distributor partners need marketing collateral for sales and operations, uniforms for a uniform program, brochures, forms, sales and on-boarding kits.

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What are the typical steps when procuring branded merchandise and how long does it really take?

If you are purchasing branded merchandise for an important event or if the goods are essential for day-to-day operations, it is important to allow sufficient time for production and delivery.

Having an online company store dramatically reduces production time because many steps are removed.  If you have an online company store, the decisions have already been made upfront.  This means that custom branded products can be produced to order on demand in as little as 24-48 hours, although we do prefer to have a little more time.

Without an online company store this process is substantially longer and often catches people off-guard and leads to frustration and disappointment.  Here are the typical steps without an online store:

Browsing product options, requesting a quote and awaiting response.  A purchaser will be inundated with questions that many feel unqualified to answer, one or multiple colors? Number of locations?  What are the PMS colours, vector artwork, size and orientation of the imprint, placement inboard or out-board. Some finally get over these hurdles only to find out that there is no stock for the desired product and the process above starts all over again.

Assuming there is stock, you should expect 24-48 hours for a proof.  The proof approval stage is critical and not as easy as it sounds.  Production time starts after all the above questions have been answered and resolved and a proof has been provided and approved.  Finally, when an order is approved, production time may be 3-10 business days for most items.  Don’t forget to allow ample shipping/transit time.  Without an online store, we recommend 10-15 days minimum to complete the process.

No wonder people still show up on tradeshow floors empty handed.  This is an overwhelming process that can be eliminated with an online company store program.

Who Should Be Responsible For Rewards and Recognition Programs?

Most often the responsibility for rewards and recognition programs falls on Human Resources Professionals. However we find that when created as an overarching culture driven initiative and when managers are directly involved, a greater impact on performance metrics is achieved.

What Are the Drivers for a Rewards & Recognition Program

More than 60% of employers are experiencing tension between employees from different generations.  Engagement, happy employees, re-branding, positive image for the brand, reducing turn over, attracting talent and recruiting are the main driving forces behind rewards and recognition programs.

Why Can’t I Browse for Promotional Products on your site?

Most promotional providers offer a self-service model, a website where you can browse, upload art files and check out without having to speak to a single soul.   Many people ask us why they can’t browse or find promotional products on our site.  There’s a reason our approach is different.  Proforma SI’s core value proposition is to make a difference for working people who have too much on their plate. Make life easier for them. We are always striving to be better so our clients achieve more. So we invite you to tell us about your project, your goals, budget and the specific things you are trying to fix or improve and we’ll take it from there.

How Important is Recognition in the workplace?

Companies with effective recognition programs have 31% lower turnover, 21% higher productivity and a 60% increase in engagement.  To realize maximum benefits and maintain them, a culture of recognition and proper tools are essential.  Peer to peer recognition and social recognition that happens instantly and spontaneously are more effective.  The existence of a recognition and rewards program however isn’t enough.  It must be widely used to create business benefits.

3 Keys to Employee Recognition – What Are They?
  1. Tie Recognition to core company values.  This approach becomes a dynamic tool.  You will see which performers embody those values naturally, and every member of the organization will understand the contributions that push the company forward.
  2.  Recognition in the moment.  The quicker the employee is recognized, the more beneficial.
  3. Be specific.  Tell employees exactly what it was that impressed you.  Instead of saying “nice job” say “nice job on the report. Those stats really drive the point home and the charts you created are going to be a good visual tool in tomorrow’s meeting.”
What Are Some of the Features of Proforma SI’s Employee Recognition Platform?

Very similar to a social media feed, our dashboard has 3 types of recognition, (peer-to-peer), (manager-to-employee/teams), (employee-to-manager).  Another helpful tool in our platform is a communication wall for updates, ideas & contests.  Ideal for celebrating birthday’s, anniversary milestones, company events, idea sharing, contest details and policy updates.  Soft-skill training and quizzes help company’s to track performance and participation of on-going education and development.  Credits can be awarded and tracked and there is a rewards shopping mall where credits can be redeemed for merchandise and gift cards.  Proforma SI has a Performance Management tool and gamification for incentive programs and data based performance management.  Our programs are custom,  flexible and agile – you may want all the bells and whistles but you don’t have to.

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