“We want to build a company store for our employees so they can buy our products. And, we want to mark up the price a bit to offset the cost of the store.”
From a 20,000-foot perspective, this sounds like a sound business strategy. Unfortunately, in our 21 years in the business, we have found that less than 5% of your employees will actually pay to wear your brand. With this jarring statistic in mind, perhaps it’s time to re-evaluate why you want to build an employee store.
Sell vs. Give
Most employees don’t buy branded merchandise because they expect the company to give it to them. If you put yourself in their shoes, it is a legitimate point-of-view. If they are going to spend money on apparel, why would they want your logo on it? For the same price, they could buy a golf shirt that sports a lifestyle brand they like (Nike, Disney, etc.). These employees are not at fault for taking this approach; it’s human nature. If you want them to wear your brand, you will have to give the product to them or make it available at a substantial discount compared to the list price.
Sometimes, employees are required to wear branded merchandise (uniforms, casual days, event gear, etc.). Regardless of the reason for the clothing requirement, a sure-fire way to create hostile feelings is to force these employees to purchase the required clothing and accessories at a premium price.
There are, however, two highly desirable customers for whom the selling approach works: stakeholders and fanatics. Franchisees, sales people or anyone in your company who is directly impacted by a boost in sales is happy to pay to wear the brand. Heck, it just means more money for them down the road! And, if you’re one of those few brands that some people just love (think Apple, Budweiser or Ferrari), then you’re set. However, those brands are the exception to the rule.
So, what’s an executive to do?
The ROBYN Company Store Solution is flexible enough to offer a variety of custom solutions to relieve your pains. For starters, though, we suggest stepping back and analyzing why you want your employees wearing your brand (note – we realize your branded products include many items besides clothing, however, clothing makes up the majority of the items purchased on the company store, so we will use it as our example here.).
- Company requirement – Whether your employees wear a uniform every day, branded gear on casual days or matching shirts for tradeshows.
- Walking billboards – A great way to promote your brand is by having your logo strategically placed on items your employees will wear when they are out and about on their own time.
- Gifts and rewards – What better way to show your employees your appreciation than by giving them a nice article of clothing or another item with your logo on it? Everyone enjoys receiving a nice gift. Why not be the one who creates that magical moment?
We work with our clients to find creative ways to use a branded merch store to meet their needs. For instance, the Sam Noble Foundation (based in Ardmore, OK) states in the employee handbook that the foundation is to provide each employee with a new hat every year. In the past, this has been a very complicated and cumbersome process because different people want different styles and different sizes of hats.
However, utilizing standard features within the ROBYN Company Store Solution, the foundation is able to provide each employee with a unique code to go online and order the exact hat they would like. The fulfillment team at ROBYN then makes sure each person is shipped the right hat. The marketing team for the Sam Noble Foundation never has to touch the product!
American Fidelity Assurance Company recently celebrated their 9th consecutive year to be named to Fortune magazine’s “100 Best Companies to Work For”. To share the recognition with their employees, the marketing team worked with ROBYN to build commemorative t-shirt in their choice of color. While this portion was managed by unique codes, employees were also able to purchase additional shirts via credit card or by purchase order.
A branded e-store focused on your employees can work… if you’re smart about it. Instead of expecting employees to offset the cost of the store and your branded gear, think of it as an investment in your business and use the store to motivate, reward and gift your employees instead. You might just be amazed with the results!
Posted on Thu, January 24, 2013
by Brian Blake