Large organizations that rely on marketing and sales materials such as branded products often wonder how to best manage promotional product programs in the most efficient manner. An online company store program helps ease the burden by effectively and efficiently managing both the sourcing and the distribution of materials across your organization, no matter how many locations and/or remote employees you may have.
When it comes down to choosing a solution to manage the purchasing and delivery of marketing &sales materials and promotional merchandise, there are two options to choose from for your online company store.
The Two Options for Managing Promotional Product Programs.
While there are millions of promotional and sales materials available from almost as many vendors, which of the two options in order fulfillment is right for your business?
- Warehouse and Fulfillment. Materials are ordered in bulk and stored until needed.
- On Demand. Materials are made to order in the quantity immediately needed.
Buying Marketing and Sales Materials with Warehouse and Fulfillment
In a warehouse and fulfillment solution, a company purchases large amounts of marketing and sales materials to support the organization’s needs for a period of time of a few months to a few years. The numerous boxes of inventory are stored in a facility until they are needed.
Companies with enough extra space may opt to store the materials in their own facility, often in their own warehouse, a storage closet or an unused office. Companies without space to spare can choose to rent space in a third party warehouse that will also handle the fulfillment.
One benefit of pre-ordering and storing materials is that the company always has personalized sales and marketing materials on-hand. When a salesperson requests more brochures or your marketing team needs more giveaways for an event, all they need to do is submit a request to the person(s) responsible for managing the inventory and wait for them to deliver. In a company that stores bulk inventory in their own warehouse, that management often falls on the warehouse or marketing teams. For those storing with a third party, a point person will be assigned to your organization to fill the order accordingly.
Buying Marketing and Sales Materials On Demand
On Demand ordering is just what it sounds like: orders are produced at the time they are ordered. They are not mass produced and put into a warehouse. Unless you need that type of program.
With on demand fulfillment, materials are made to order when requested, allowing you the benefit of ordering just what’s needed for the short term.
Industry professionals affectionately refer to on demand ordering as “just in time inventory” since an order need only be placed shortly before product is needed in hand. There is absolutely no up front inventory involved, meaning no up front investment and no storage space or management is required. On demand order fulfillment saves companies large sums of money in what often becomes wasted materials and doesn’t require anyone in the organization to manage stock-piles of inventory.
We’ve Come So Far in Order Fulfillment That Bulk Ordering Is No Longer Necessary
In the past, companies that were heavily reliant on marketing materials to support the sales and operations of their organization may have had an organized online company store program, but it was mainly supported by warehouse and fulfillment.
The Two Leading Reasons for Historical Preference in Warehouse and Fulfillment
- Quick Turn Around Time. Warehouse and fulfillment provided the peace of mind that employees would always have what was needed on hand. Turn around time was solely dependent on the person(s) responsible for managing the inventory.
- Volume Discounts. Vendors often offer attractive discounts for organizations that order their marketing and sales materials in bulk. A savings of 30% looks great on paper. That is, until the end of the year when the excess inventory becomes obsolete and a company realizes there was actually no savings at all as they toss several boxes of inventory into the dumpster.
The Rise of On Demand Fulfillment
Today, on demand fulfillment has been steadily gaining in popularity.
Drive-thrus, drone-delivery, 3D printers. The one thing they all have in common is near instant delivery. Why should the promotional products and printing industry be any different? Suppliers had to step-up their game and do what the market asked of them. And the market demands delivery, NOW.
Systems and production improvements enable around the clock order entry and art-proofing. Add ample production capacity and to be in the instant-delivery game, suppliers have invested heavily to make sure they have the stock to play. Putting a logo on products can now be done in 24-hours and some have even taken it to the next level and offer same day service.
Proforma SI offers volume discounts based on annual spend, not individual order size, so the need to store inventory is often unnecessary.
Choosing Between Holding Inventory With Warehouse and Fulfillment and Just in Time Ordering
Choosing the best online company store solution for your organization is largely dependent on your specific needs. Business that don’t use much in the way of printed materials and companies whose information rarely changes may find it easier to order in bulk and store the boxes in an empty office. But larger organizations who do order sales and marketing materials on a regular basis often find on demand solutions to be more fitting.
We recommend taking the time to choose a good online company store provider who will outline your options clearly and explain the pros and cons for each solution.
This doesn’t have to be a one-size-fits all solution. There are times when a combination of both programs makes the most sense. A good provider will take the time to understand your unique organization and help you make an informed decision for a custom program that best suits your company.
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