Do you want a fast, efficient way to distribute promotional and printed materials, while ensuring your brand images and logos are always used correctly? Then set up an online company store, that is open 24 hours a day, so that…
  • Admins will always know where to go to get supplies and printed materials.
  • Marketing will be able to get giveaways embossed with a logo to give to new and potential customers as well as order polo shirts embroidered with names and logos for use at trade shows.
  • Operations will be able order uniforms for manufacturing plants, retail stores, delivery drivers, and anyone else who is seen out in the community.
  • HR can order “new hire kits” for new employees, as well as other employee gifts and awards.

These are just a few of the areas where an online company store will save you time and money.

Your online company store will have great visibility in the company, so Sales and Marketing, Finance, HR, Operations and Executive Management will all want to contribute ideas, sometimes suggesting a product, sometimes recommending a process to follow.

This planning guide will help you organize your thoughts so you have all the information necessary to complete the business case and cost / benefit analysis required for senior management to approve the project.

Discuss the seven subjects listed in this planning guide with each department and get agreement from all your stakeholders and your online company store will be a guaranteed success.

Focus of the Store

  1. What is the main reason you want an online store and what do you want your online company store to do?

Choose one or more of these options.

  1. To ensure all printed material complies with company print standards wherever they are used. For example: business cards follow a design template; envelopes, letterhead paper, statements and business forms have a standardized logo and address placement and catalogs, booklets, presentation folders, banners and signs use the same logo, layout and font.
  2. To provide all of your different offices, departments, warehouses, company owned stores and franchisees with correct barcode labels, product ID labels, equipment ID tags and nameplate labels.
  3. To provide your sales and marketing team with “standardized” high quality pens, mugs, calendars, apparel, stress balls and other giveaways printed with the company logo for their use at trade shows and for customer visits.
  4. To provide your employees with uniforms that are the same in all locations.
  5. To offer your employees a “Company Store” where merchandise and apparel imprinted with the company logo are available for their own purchase.

Product Selection and Lead Time

Now it is time to zero in on the products to be carried in the store. To complete this section of your plan you’ll need a blank spreadsheet open on your computer.

  1. What products will be available in the online company store?

  1. Make a list of products from each of the categories you checked in (a) through (e) in section 1. Get suggestions from each department, and have them be specific. For each product, list the cost of any existing items, and for new items list the minimum and maximum price range (keeping in mind that the item’s quality changes with its price) that each department is willing to pay.
  2. On your spreadsheet create columns to identify items that will be available to all locations and items that will be restricted to particular departments or locations.
  3. If an Employee Store is to be provided make a separate list of products for this option.
  4. Add other products that have been specially requested by Senior Managers.
  1. Determine the acceptable delivery time from ordering to receipt for each product?

Most, if not all, the products in the online company store will require printing, embossing or embroidery, and also transit time for delivery, so be sure to account for this lead time for each product. Add a column to your spreadsheet to list the acceptable lead times for each product, and make special note of all products you want to be instantly available, because these will require an advanced production to place them in inventory.

Administering and Marketing the Store

Next you must decide how the store will be controlled and administered.

  1. How will products be ordered and shipped from the online company store?

  1. Will ordering from the store be the responsibility of one person per department or location, or will multiple people be able to place orders?
  2. How will spending limits be established? Should there be a set spending limit by person, by order, or by week or month? Who has authorization to approve over limit spending, or will there be a chain of command that goes up as the spending amount increases?
  3. How will spending be tracked? Will the store use purchase order numbers, location codes or employee ID numbers; and will these be a suggestion or a mandatory requirement?
  4. Will the Company Store use spending on a credit account with the store vendor, or will it run from company credit card payments? If an Employee Store is also created, will credit account purchases be allowed, or must employees use their credit cards?
  5. Will the Store allow gift certificates to be purchased and redeemed?
  6. Will shipping be standard Ground and who can authorize a change to a more expensive service i.e. overnight or next day air?
  1. Who is responsible for managing the online company store? (see also part 2 on Managing Inventory)

  1. Which one person or one department in the company is responsible for the ongoing relationship with the online company store vendor, as well as monitoring the store and reporting regularly on store operation, performance and efficiency?
  2. Who is responsible for ordering inventory to ensure the correct number of “immediate shipment” items are in stock at all times?
  3. Who is allowed to add new items to the store, or what is the approval process?
  4. Who will be responsible for ensuring old or obsolete inventory is minimized and used up appropriately?
  1. How will you market the store and who is responsible?

  1. It is very important to continually market the store to ensure company personnel use the store, particularly in branches remote from the home office. The more that is purchased through the store, the better volume discounts will be, which results in the company saving money.
  2. Much of the power of a company store comes from its ability to help manage and track costs, as well as standardize products across multiple departments and locations. This cannot be done effectively unless most/all company purchases are run through the store. If different employees or locations are allowed to go around the procedures established while building the store, the store’s effectiveness is reduced.

The 7th consideration will be discussed Part 2 of this article where we take an in-depth look at Managing Inventory in your online company store.

When choosing your online company store provider, please consider

They have the knowledge and expertise to help you develop your store and manage its ongoing operation, as well as the fulfillment of all orders and the growth of your store over time. They have developed and opened company stores for large law firms, restaurant chains, schools and education providers, manufacturing companies, hospitals, banks, and many other industries. They have the experience to help manage multiple locations, streamline the store creation and implementation process, and guarantee that the store results in both cost savings and time savings for your company and employees. Satisfaction is guaranteed!