Company stores have a lot of pressure on them.
Organizations use company stores as brand builders, reward fulfillment centers, employee benefits, and more. However, without the proper setup, company stores can sit underused or unused—a waste of time and opportunity.
Even turnkey company stores need proper setup and consideration to ensure success. Let’s look at what you need to know when setting one up for your employees.
Setting Up a Company Store for Employees
Today we’ll focus on company stores that are part of a broader incentive program. If you’re considering setting up a company store for your employees, you first need to carefully consider your strategic goals. Then, you can ask key questions to help you make strategic decisions relating to inventory and cost. We will discuss other company stores (online and brick-and-mortar) that enable an organization’s customers and fans to buy the company’s wares at a discount or purchase company-branded apparel and other goods at another time.
What are you trying to accomplish with your company store? Will it be where employees go to collect rewards earned in incentive programs? Will it include company-branded merchandise, or third-party goods as well? Each option, as well as hybrids and combinations thereof, serves distinct tactical purposes.
If the company store will be a place where employees can claim rewards they’ve earned, it will need to feature merchandise they’ll actually want and strive for. Moreover, the requirements to earn every item should be clearly displayed; transparency will help motivate teammates as they browse the store. Company stores should be able to fulfill all types of incentive program platforms and take multiple forms of “payment”: reward and promotional codes, points, spending accounts, and gift cards.
If you want your company store to be a legitimate employee benefit, then it needs to offer them deep discounts, merchandise unavailable to the general public, or both. If you want it to include third-party goods, you’ll have to set up and maintain that supply line as well. Remember, retail model numbers turn over quickly.
Speaking of supply lines, you’ll have to ensure that your company store is fully “stocked” — either with physical goods onsite that you can distribute on the spot, or with a fulfillment system that works with the ease-of-use and quick shipping to which we’re all now accustomed. If your company store centers on branded apparel and other gear, you’ll need to ensure you can deliver custom high-quality embroidered logos in your organization’s colors. Slapping a sticker on a generic tote bag won’t cut it.
Other inventory-related questions:
If the company store will have apparel, how many of each size should you carry?
You need a standard selection appropriate for every item, and for each company location. If your workforce or needs are unique, you might consider using professionals who can build you a custom plan. However, a general rule of thumb for size breakdown is:
- Small – 5%
- Medium – 15%
- Large – 35%
- Extra Large – 40%
- 2XL – 5%
Where will you keep your inventory?
If you want to keep a stock of the most popular goods onsite, you’ll need dedicated storage at all of your locations.
Who will stock the inventory and keep it stocked?
Depending on how quickly your inventory turns over, you may need to dedicate personnel time to the task.
You’ll definitely want to have your budget ready before setting up a company store for employees. That will give you an idea of what your organization will be able to offer employees on an ongoing basis, and if you plan to use outside vendors, it’ll help you comparison shop properly.
Other cost-related questions:
Is there a ballpark for how much these things cost?
Let’s just say it’s a big ballpark because pricing varies based on requirements. You need to think about your ultimate goal. If it increases productivity and morale or lowers turnover, you may want to consider the big picture. Looking at the overall financial implications, you may have a bigger budget than you think.
Is there anything I can do to stretch my budget?
Yep! Outsource it to a company that does on-demand fulfillment. That reduces the cost of maintaining inventory.
What’s the difference between a point-buy system and an incentive program?
Predictability. With an incentive program, you’ll be able to set your budget and know what you’re buying ahead of time. Point-buy systems give the employees more flexibility on purchase time but will lead to varying costs for you every quarter.
Lower costs are the big reason to choose an online store, right?
Along with all the other reasons so many people like online shopping: It’s always open, and fulfillment is speedy.
Even when you’ve finalized the strategic goals, inventory, and cost for your company store, you’ll still face all the standard website launch decisions:
Who will host it?
If your IT services provider or in-house staff doesn’t handle extranet-based e-commerce regularly, you’ll want to find someone who does.
Is it secure? What are your privacy policies?
No one wants personal or company information to be publicly available. Make sure that your company store doesn’t become an open honeypot.
How will branding be used on the site?
You’ll want your company store to show your business in the best light. If you’re not interested in spearheading a new minisite design project, consider using professionals for the job.
Will it look and work great on both mobile and desktop?
While desktops haven’t entirely gone the way of the dinosaurs, your site should be accessible on phones as well as tablets.
Who’s responsible for fulfillment and ongoing service?
As with inventory, on-demand is the way to go. In the long-run, it will save you space, money, and time.
How will you measure success?
Once your company store has launched, you’ll want to know:
- Which goods are the most popular?
- Are you ordering enough to keep up?
- Which items simply take up space?
Whatever the result, you’ll want to keep the store up-to-date, so that you’re offering items that produce the best results, and that you’re switching out old and ho-hum offerings.
Inproma has helped organizations throughout the US with custom company-branded apparel for 20 years. Our turnkey company stores offer apparel and other logo-branded goods. We can also set up reward and incentive programs that help you achieve your organization’s overall strategic goals. If your business could use some help motivating staff or launching a discounted company store as an employee benefit, give us a call.