Working with a promotional product company means your brand is in their hands, so choosing the right supply chain to work with can be a bigger decision than you think.
When choosing your supply chain, be careful not to fall into the trap of assuming it’s all about getting the cheapest price or that it’s not too important where items are bought or manufactured. This can be a risky strategy – brand reputation can be severely damaged by using inferior promotional products that don’t reflect a company’s quality or values. There could be even more severe implications if goods are unsafe or manufactured using child labour.
Within the promotional merchandise market seemingly identical products can have a price variation of 20-30% but on closer inspection you’ll find them to be very different. For instance, a pen could be manufactured with low grade materials, carry inferior refills or even be manufactured under unethical practices – all to cut costs.
It’s a good idea to ask your supply chain for samples so you can judge the quality of the product for yourself. Ask if the supplier’s had feedback from other clients about the product. It’s also reasonable to ask for visuals to see what the product will look like when branded – many products can now be shown in 3D. If you still have doubts ask for a pre-product proof. Although there may be a cost for this it can often be reclaimed against a potential order.
Common issues associated with the supply of promotional merchandise include:
- Brand guidelines not understood or adhered to.
- Overcharging for artwork, origination & delivery.
- A supplier that’s not helpful if problems arise or does not respond in a timely manner.
- Supply chain human rights infringements.
- Unsafe products.
- Incorrect products supplied.
- Goods damaged in transit.
- Importation / Customs problems.
- Deliveries sent to the wrong address / late delivery.
- Unfulfilled orders due to supplier going out of business.
The British Promotional Merchandise Association (BPMA) has produced a guide – How to Source Promotional Products – to help companies with sourcing.
It is perfectly acceptable to ask your potential supplier:
- How long they’ve been in the promotions industry / a BPMA member?
- What ethical / environmental / compliance policies do they have?
- Have they received any BPMA or other awards?
- Do they have dedicated staff for large client programmes?
- What is their returns policy?
Make Memorable Merchandise
Having worked in Promotional Merchandise for the last 25 years I have been exposed to all aspects of the industry. Starting out as an account manager working with some of the worlds leading brands, I have learnt to understand the needs of a client, manufacturing processes, and what it takes to deliver a successful promotional campaign that is on brand, on time and within a given budget.