Posted by: brandextenders | November 30, 2010

Oh No, I Forgot to Order My Company’s Holiday Gifts!

How the heck did it get to be four weeks from Christmas and even closer for Hanukkah (starts December 1)? As always, we’ve had all year to think about those corporate gifts we need to purchase for our customers, employees and valued suppliers and yet we’ve put it off and now the squeeze is on to buy something quickly. Don’t let the short time frame cause you to stress out as there is still plenty of time to purchase those corporate gifts if you follow a few simple rules:

  1. Be flexible: When I started in this business you could expect a four-week production time and rush orders were the exception rather than the rule. Now, many suppliers of corporate gifts have lead times as short as 24 hours from ordering to shipping, but you need to be flexible. Inventory continues to be an issue so it’s best to have a first, second and third choice in case a supplier is out of your preferred gift.
  2. Be Clear: Given the short time frame make sure you are clear on what you want and expect. Normally if something goes wrong there are options to redo the project or find another promotional products distributor to work with, but time is dwindling quickly for the holidays this year. Communicate exactly what you need in the way of product, quantities, imprint, imprint colors, packaging and an in-hands date. Make sure you supply Vector art (see my last blog if you aren’t sure what that is) and that all the shipping instructions are clear. The clearer you are upfront the more likely you’ll get exactly what you want.
  3. This isn’t retail: There is no Black Friday or Cyber Monday in the promotional products world and given the late date you most likely won’t get 50% off your holiday gift order. However you can save money by asking about closeouts or discontinued items that typically are discounted anywhere from 20% – 75% depending on the product.
  4. No proof: When having products imprinted, no matter the time of year, it’s always a good idea to get a virtual proof at the very least to make sure the logo is correct, is sized appropriately and being printed in the right color(s). Given the short time frame though, it’s possible there won’t be time for a proof. Suppliers with 24 or 48 hour production will not allow a proof which is all the more reason to be clear about what you want (see #2).
  5. Expedited freight: Depending on when you order and where your gifts are being shipped you may have to pay expedited freight to get them there on time. Make sure you understand the freight charges upfront so you don’t end up going ballistic when the invoiced arrives and freight is more than the cost of the product.

Working with a professional promotional products distributor is the best way to insure your order will be produced smoothly and delivered on time. They will know the vendors who have quality products, short lead times and do what they say they will. You may also want to investigate if the supplier can wrap and package your gifts and ship them directly to the recipients to save you time.

By following the rules above, chances are you can still order your corporate and employee gifts and those receiving them will never know you waited until the last possible minute.

With 25 years in promotional marketing, Steve Woodburn works with clients to develop creative and measurable solutions that solve their marketing needs using promotional products, uniform programs, online company eStores, point-of-sale initiatives and rewards and recognition. He builds long-term relationships and becomes a trusted advisor and consultant his clients can turn to for all their brand extension needs. You can reach him at Staples Promotional Products: stephen.woodburn@staplespromoproducts.com

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