What is a Company Store?
If your company is like most, it produces branded merchandise that it sells (or in some cases gives) to employees, customers and partners to wear or use. It’s a simple and relatively cheap way to promote the brand, essentially providing free advertising for the business.
In the past, these items were typically sold through a “company store”—on onsite outlet where everything from branded polo shirts and hats to backpacks, binders and pens—could be purchased or ordered. Additionally, many organizations maintained a “marketing closet” where large volumes of branded giveaways were stored for use at upcoming events like conferences, seminars and tradeshows, or where sales teams could find a selection of branded apparel to give to prospects or customers.
The Transition from In Person to Online
Today, while some physical onsite locations still exist, most of these company stores and marketing closets have moved online. Not only does this make them globally available, it allows companies to offer a virtually limitless inventory without having to worry about storage. Items can be ordered and produced on demand, shipping in a matter of days, eliminating a main source of overhead.
These online company stores feature a user-friendly interface and integrated inventory management system, allowing employees or any authorized individuals to conveniently browse and order your company's branded swag. The store may be operated internally by the company or outsourced to a third-party provider specializing in fulfillment services.
Whether the company store is onsite or online, however, its purpose remains largely the same: to foster employee loyalty, enhance corporate culture, and promote the company's brand. In fact, many company stores offer discounts or exclusive deals to employees, incentivizing them to shop there so that they continue to promote the brand outside of normal working hours.
The Many Uses of the Company Store
Company stores are more than just a place to buy logo pens and t-shirts. They actually serve a very important role in the overall corporate culture as a source for critical accessories and a platform for acknowledging employee contributions. The following section highlights just some of the ways the company store contributes to the larger organization.
Employee Uniforms and Workwear
Some companies require their employees to wear uniforms or other branded clothing. The company store is often used to manage the ordering, distribution and customization of these items, ensuring a consistent and professional image. Employees can easily order their preferred styles, in their specific sizes, eliminating the need to navigate external vendors or submit individual requests. Companies can also subsidize the purchase or even cover costs through credits or other reward-like programs.
Companies produce a wide variety of branded merchandise—everything from t-shirts and mugs to stress balls and pens—for marketing and promotional purposes. Company stores simplify and streamline the ordering, inventory management and distribution of these items, for both internal use and external giveaways. The store also facilitates inventory management by constantly tracking stock levels and reordering in a timely manner to avoid shortages.
A company store also ensures consistent branding and messaging across products. By curating a selection of approved promotional items that adhere to the organization’s brand guidelines, the store helps maintain and enforce a unified brand image around the globe. This consistency reinforces the company's identity, increases brand recognition, and strengthens the impact of promotional efforts.
Sales and Marketing Materials
A company store can also serve as a fulfillment platform for traditional marketing materials such as brochures, catalogs, data sheets or even product samples. Employees and partners can order these materials on demand, in the quantities they need, ensuring consistent branding and availability while reducing waste. Using the company store to order printed materials also facilitates cost management and budget control by allowing administrators to set spending limits for different departments or individuals. Authorized users can even customize templates to include information such as names, contact details or specific messaging, tailoring the materials to their unique needs.
Employee Recognition and Incentive Programs
Some companies use their company store as a fulfillment vehicle for employee recognition and incentive programs, offering rewards as a way to celebrate their achievements or motivate performance. Employees can shop and choose from a pre-determined list of rewards or redeem points to purchase items through the store. Employees can select items that they truly value, fostering a sense of fairness and inclusiveness in the workplace.
Employee Onboarding Programs
Similar to recognition and incentive programs, the company store can be used as a platform for supporting employee onboarding efforts. Critical resources and other materials that are essential to new hires can be assembled in a “welcome aboard” kit and made available via the company store. Such a streamlined approach simplifies the onboarding process, reinforces company culture and branding, and eases the transition into the organization. Onboarding kits could include items such as employee handbooks, company policies, training materials, and other essential documents that introduce new employees to the company's culture, values and processes. Including some branded merchandise or promotional items in the kit makes for a nice welcome, fostering a sense of belonging and pride in the company.
Tradeshow Material Management
The company store provides a centralized platform for managing tradeshow-related merchandise and materials. Event coordinators can reserve or order items such as promotional merchandise, booth supplies, collateral and other branded materials, greatly streamlining the planning process. Coordinating these orders through the company store makes it easier to track inventory, manage stock, and ensures that all necessary items are available when needed, reducing the administrative burden of organizing and managing tradeshow materials and merchandise. Distribution and fulfillment of materials can also be coordinated through the store, ensuring the timely delivery of required items. This allows exhibitors to focus less on logistics and more on strategic aspects of tradeshow preparation.
The company store streamlines digital asset management by facilitating more efficient distribution, ensuring brand consistency and enhancing overall collaboration. By providing a centralized repository for storing and organizing digital assets like images, videos, logos, documents, presentations and other media files, the company store ensures users have easy and efficient access to the right digital content when they need it. Assets are well organized, saving time when searching for specific files. The company store also offers version control features that make it possible to track and manage an asset’s lifecycle, ensuring users have access to the most recent iterations.
Who Benefits Most from a Company Store?
Ultimately, any department that requires streamlined access to materials, assets or resources will benefit from the convenience and centralized management capabilities of a company store. Following is a brief—but incomplete—list of the groups that can leverage these capabilities.
HR departments can utilize the company store for employee onboarding programs and materials including welcome kits, company policies, training manuals and employee handbooks. The store can also offer branded merchandise and uniforms, making it convenient for HR to manage and distribute these items. Additionally, HR can use the store to provide information about employee benefits, wellness programs and recognition rewards.
The Marketing Communications department can leverage a company store for storing branding assets, promotional merchandise, marketing collateral and event materials, ensuring they have easy access to approved logos, graphics, templates and other assets. The store can also serve as a platform for ordering promotional items and distributing them to employees, customers or event attendees.
The Sales department can use the company store to access marketing materials, product catalogs, customer presentations and sales training resources. The store can also be a source of branded merchandise or promotional items that they can use for client meetings, trade shows and prospecting activities. Having these resources readily available helps sales teams effectively promote products or services.
Training and Development
The Training and Development department can use the company store to manage training materials, course content and other resources for employee development programs. The store can offer easy access to e-learning modules, instructional videos or online training platforms, helping employees conveniently access and engage in professional development opportunities.
Events and Field Marketers
Departments responsible for organizing events, conferences or trade shows can use the company store for managing event-specific materials and merchandise. The store can also handle orders and logistics related to booth supplies, promotional items, branded materials and other event necessities.
The OnFulfillment Corporate Portal Can Do it All from One Platform
OnFulfillment lets you manage all your company assets, for every department, from a single web-based company store. You assign and enforce permission levels that determine what each department, group or individual can see, erecting virtual walls that prevent one department from poaching another’s budget or inventory.
Through the OnFulfillment portal, you can manage and procure printed material, promotional products and tradeshow booth materials. You can also schedule event orders for delivery as well as for return, where they are inspected and cleaned before being placed back into inventory.
Real-time reports help you determine what products need to be reordered and when, depending on historical usage. You can also manage budgets and set order limits with minimum and maximum quantities to avoid overspending.
The OnFulfillment software can integrate with your SSO to ensure a more secure workflow. And you always have access to a dedicated account representative to help when the software can’t.
To learn more about how we can help you build a more effective and efficient company store, visit our contact us page and schedule a meeting. We’ll be happy to show you what we can do.