Should web stores be in your company’s future? All signs point to yes.

“Everyone’s so used to Amazon: simply clicking to make their purchase,” says Tom Rauen, CEO of Dubuque, IA-based Envision Tees. “A web store takes a lot of friction out of a regular transaction. You show the customer what you can offer them—and they can buy 24/7.” They’re a one-stop-shop for your clients—and their employees, team members or supporters. This personalized shopping experience can turn your business into a selling machine, generating profits round the clock. Distributors and decorators like Rauen are capitalizing on web stores, to bring in more frequent and even higher-volume purchases.

Let’s look at exactly how adding a web store service to your lineup can increase your bottom line. Plus: We’ll explain how easy it is to set up a web store, and why you should pitch them to your existing and potential clients.

What is a Web Store?

Think of a web store as a one-stop extension of your shop, which allows your clients, in turn, to sell their logoed items. The buyers—whether they’re corporate employees, team members or fundraiser supportersdon’t even need to visit your website to specifically order decorated apparel or gear. Nor do they have to sort through lots of online apparel options, or use traditional printed catalogs to make their purchase.

Instead, buyers are simply able to log on to your client’s web store, select from a curated set of products, and then pay online. Now on the backend, all you’re left to do is decorate the apparel, and ship the goods directly to the buyer.

Why You Should Pitch Web Stores to Clients

There are many benefits to setting up and managing a web store for your clients. First and foremost, they aren’t limited to a specific timeframe for their offerings. Certainly, they can promote a limited-time sale to generate more purchases. But if they have their own year-round web store, their target audience can make purchases days, weeks or even months after the store’s launch.

If a school football team wants to sell team jerseys or pep rally supplies, you can create a web store and take all the pressure off of the organization itself, because it’ll automatically processes the purchase after the buyer has selected their items, size and artwork. The account gets credited with the appropriate amount, and then you, the distributor or decorator, ship the item with the chosen artwork. (It’s easy to see how this could be a big selling point for many clients.)

Finally, a web store allows people to upsell themselves while buying logoed products beyond the uniform or jersey shirt. They can choose various add-ons, from hats to lanyards, that they can wear to promote the business during the hours they’re off the clock. Even non-employees can find and order products to show their loyalty to the brands they love.

However, Rauen cautions against trying to sell every product in a web store. “What happens is you have analysis by paralysis,” Rauen says. “Focus on your core products and make sure those sizes and colors are in stock.” Rauen suggests offering 10 core products for web stores, and offering additional items à la carte. “We have core pieces that always sell well, so we offer those as our ‘stock’ items to our web store clients,” he says.

And don’t forget: “A web store is another great marketing tool for your business,” says Howard Potter, CEO of Utica, NY-based Master Your Image. “Put your logo and contact info on every page and form, which means every parent or employee will know who’s doing the work!”

How to Set Up Web Stores

For many businesses, the only thing holding them back from creating a web store is the fear of new technology. They worry that it’s beyond their ability because they mistakenly believe you need to be a computer programming expert to design a quality web store.

They couldn’t be more wrong. InkSoft, Printavo, DecoNetwork are a few places that make it easy to get you web store up and running. Stahls’ even offers an e-commerce site for geared towards heat-press printing. These plug-and-play website applications can help you manage inventory, artwork options, payments, and even track visitors, who left your web web store with items still in their shopping cart. Tracking stats like this can help you save a sale by showing who you’ll need to send a follow up email to, with suggestions that’ll encourage them to finally hit “buy.” It takes them out of shopping cart limbo and into a successful purchase.

The most profitable web stores stay open year-round, such as corporate or school stores. However, if a school, local business, or group needs to open a seasonal store, run a limited-time sale or hold a fundraiser, you’ll have the ability to run the site, during the duration of the promotion. When you’re done, simply take the store offline and reopen it when needed, without having to create a brand new site. “The key is being very organized and knowing when to open and close your stores,” Potter says.

It’s important to get a web store-building system in place so it’s repeatable and scalable, Rauen advises. “It can be a mess because you need to take clients’ information, select the products and get the artwork,” he says. “Do this as the store is being built so there are no hiccups and questions.” In fact, since this has become such a big revenue stream for them, Rauen’s team includes a staffer, who sets up and manages Envision Tees’ more than 1,000 web stores.

Potter also cautions decorators and distributors to limit the number of designs per web store. “We allot up to three hours to create the artwork,” he says. “You want as many pieces as possible with the same setup to maximize profit per design.”

Clients Who’ll Love Your Web Stores

A web store can work for any of your past clients and can be a fantastic tool to close the deal with your new prospects.

This always bears repeating:

  • An e-commerce storefront can benefit any business or organization wishing to sell uniforms and other logoed soft/hard goods to employees, as well as their families and friends.
  • A web store is also a great tool for athletic teams (both school and professional or semi-professional), school PTAs and clubs, or to promote nonprofit events, such as “TheBreast Cancer Awareness Walk.

Tip: You can even encourage “fans” of a business or a team to buy logoed apparel and products from the web store to show their support.

Impressively, Master Your Image has increased its sales by more than $150,000 via web stores, since they offer everything from fulfillment to decorating, as each order rolls in. “We created a full-time position to handle these orders,” Potter says. “This has opened many doors for our company to promote to all of (our clients’) employees, parents and students. We have less than a 2% error rate overall in our company, so that’s huge with our customers and shows them we can handle small and large orders, too!”

Web stores are an exciting step in the traditional buying chain that can help simplify the process of ordering logoed items. These mini e-commerce sites can also provide you with a way to create additional income streams for you and your clients, increasing your orders and sales.

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