Working With a Distributor

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Working With a Distributor

The Promotional Products Association International claims that today, more than 20,000 promotional merchandisers operate in the United States, working with 3,500 manufacturers of these products. A typical business owner can find just about any type of specialty item to represent every kind of enterprise in which he or she is engaged. Whether you operate a babysitting business or manage mutual funds, there is bound to be a wide range of choices for giveaway gifts or customer appreciation.

How Process Happens When You Work With a Distributor?

Distributors form teams with product manufacturers to provide a long list of marketing merchandise that can attract the attention of employees and clients. More than simply selling you a product, a distributor, working with or without the help of a manufacturer, can assist you in creating a marketing plan to promote your business using the marketing products. You can choose from the existing line of items or work with the team to create your own unique design. The distributor serves as a liaison between customer and manufacturer, since the manufacturers generally do not promote their products directly to the open market. If your first order of merchandise, and the campaign for which you purchase it, turns out well, you may be apt to establish a long-term relationship for repeat business. That is why it is important to give careful thought to your first order, and then to check it upon delivery as well as monitor the long-term benefits of its use. Here are a few guidelines for evaluating your distributor and marketing duo:

  • Delivery. Is your vendor easy to reach? Does he work with you in adjusting or changing an order, if necessary? Does your order arrive on time, the way you requested it? Can the distributor deliver a rush job, if required?
  • Customer care. Do you get prompt, courteous attention when contacting the customer service department? Is the staff friendly and knowledgeable? Are they able to competently help you plan an effective promotional campaign?
  • Merchandise integrity. The distributor should be able to vouch for product quality from the manufacturer and guarantee the print work to ensure it meets your standards and conforms to the order terms. If there are problems with the color, consistency, quality, or number of items, the distributor should be willing to correct these without complaint and in good time.

Choosing a Vendor

Ask about free samples. Some vendors keep stock items on hand and will provide you one gratis to give you an idea of certain products look like. Pricier items may require you to pay shipping costs, but you will still get a pretty good idea of what to expect if you place a volume order for a certain promotional item. This helps to offset potential disappointment that can result when you order something from a catalog, only to be dismayed when two hundred of them arrive, looking very different from what you expected.

After placing your order and submitting your graphics, the vendor will team with the manufacturer to product your merchandise. You might be able to get a pre-production sample of the product with the imprint, which will let you see how it will appear in final form before you sign off on the order. Even if it costs a small amount, checking a sample item before finalizing your order will prepare you for the items before they arrive.

In some cases, you can get a drawing or photo of the merchandise before the order is filled that lets you see how the logo looks on your promotional merchandise. Sometimes a "sewout" sample is available to give you an idea how the logo will look on fabric.

Many vendors offer a selection of shipping terms. These may include drop shipping to a special event or third-party location. Be frank in discussing your interests and needs with the vendor to be sure he fully understands what you want and how you expect to receive it.

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