Answer These Questions Before Launching A Corporate Inventory Program
Challenge: As a distributor in today’s fast-paced promotional products world, you’ll need to have consultative selling skills, be able to add value for your clients and secure enduring relationships.
Solution: There are many ways to accomplish this, but one surefire way is to land profitable, well-run corporate inventory programs. These are often won through competitive bid situations and once the agreements are signed, a long, drawn-out setup process ensues. In addition to bidding and set-up there is the financing of inventory, the ability to tie into the client’s technology (and remain secure!) and make sure the program flows smoothly with the client being satisfied.
With all that in mind you need to make sure that, first, you can run the program and, second, can run the program profitably. A program that doesn’t perform profitably will severely affect the distributor and in some cases put them at risk for bankruptcy. Stay away from the lure of the revenues and make sure at the end of the year that the program generates money in the bank. To get you started, ask yourself the following 12 questions. These will provide a great starting point to make sure you are moving in the right direction.
1. Who is going to finance the inventory? The client, you or a bank loan?
2. If the program you acquire has inventory, who will buy that existing inventory from the current distributor?
3. Who is going to build the website, what are the costs and will it have features such as real-time inventory?
4. Will it be a true ecommerce site?
5. Who is going to manage the program? Will you have a dedicated program manager?
6. When new products are requested by the client, what will be your process to add them to the site? For example, who will do the photo shoot, order the inventory and set up the web page?
7. If you are a salesperson working for a distributor, when will you be paid on order entry? Monthly?
8. With the RFI and RFP, who is going to do the presentations and fill out the contracts?
9. Who will host your site?
10. Will you be able to have ecommerce integration with Ariba, People Soft and/or procurement integration?
11. With all the data breaches, what will be your level of website security, and will you be able to have credit card encryption?
12. For multinational corporations, will you have translation capabilities?
--Peter T. Zeiger, MAS, Director of Recruiting, Geiger