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Company swag stores are fast becoming the in thing to do – and for good reason. Not only is it a fantastic way to promote your company, but it’s also an effective tool in further cementing belief and support in the company from your employees as well. Find out everything you need to know about swag stores, including some helpful suggestions for when you’re ready to set one up yourself.

One of the most important things that a company can do to promote itself through its employees is by setting up a company employee swag store. The term ‘swag’ is used to refer to company branded items such as apparel, acccessories, tech gadgets, office supplies, and everyday fun and functional objects, among other things.

Chances are, you’ve personally come across (or already own) promotional swag items given to you by friends, family, promoters, and (hopefully) your own employer. In this digital age, being known for having 'the best' promotional swag is something that a lot of companies hope to achieve. This requires companies to invest in quality products, modern design and practical uses.

Benefits of Investing in Promotional Swag

There are three main benefits as to why companies make it a point to have custom swag made:

1. Increased exposure. Custom swag is basically a tool to promote and enhance the brand’s visibility. People who end up purchasing or receiving custom swag from an online company store for employees will invariably use them, and anyone who sees that person using items from his custom swag box is then exposed to the brand. If you see someone on the street wearing a jacket emblazoned with a company logo or name, you therefore dedicate a few seconds of your time to thinking about that company – which is basically free advertising for them.

2. Builds the brand. The best employee swag store is basically a collection of carefully chosen items, each handpicked to represent the brand in both big and little ways. What this means is all of these company store items represent the brand’s values and what it upholds to the highest of standards. All of these are reflected in the things that are found in their respective employee swag store.

3. Enhances team culture. Company swag isn’t just for promoting and marketing the brand – it’s also a tool for building team culture. Drumming up interest and participation in different employee rewards programs is easy when you have company store items in an online company swag store. An online company swag store opens a team up to the possibility of owning any of the items there, whether receiving it through exemplary performance or given to them by their team leader as a way of boosting morale and improving team relations.

Examples of Existing Company Swag Store

At this point, you are probably wondering what brands already have existing swag stores online. You might not be surprised to know that industry movers have successful and thriving company swag stores. Some of those companies include: American Express, Amazon, Facebook, Google, Salesforce and more. Here is an example of Netflix’s online company swag store features handpicked items to wear and use, such as a backpack, bomber jacket, and a laptop sleeve – everyday items that are high in utility value and brand visibility, thanks to their usefulness. While this is just a small subset of what they offer, it’s very clear to see that their curated choices all reflect the company’s high standards for quality in terms of products brand and type.

For smaller companies and startups, you can see that it allows the company to provide swag options for their employees and alumni. An example of this is the brand swag store of Y Combinator. Known as a powerhouse in the startup seed funding industry, Y Combinator’s online company store for employees features great company store items that its alumni and current batch would love to have and wear proudly. Looking at Y Combinator’s current lineup in their online company store for employees, one can deduce that their choice are mostly geared towards comfortable clothing that’s sure to get a lot of use, along with a few of the usual suspects like notebooks, laptop bags, mugs and the like.

Benefits of Working With Promotional Swag Companies

The best swag stores you’ll ever come across are successful primarily because they have chosen to work with a company that will help them set up an online company store for employees. Working with a company that specializes in setting up company store platforms has a number of benefits:

· The gargantuan task of setting up and managing company store platforms is off your hands. The benefits of a company store managed by a professional outfit basically frees you up from having to attend to it in the first place. This is common practice for the best swag stores, who have turned over the following aspects of managing company store platforms to the professionals:

o   Production (sourcing products, creating custom swag box, printing logos and designs for all company store ideas)

o   Warehousing (product storage – no need for items to occupy space in your own office or warehouse)

o   Fulfillment (seeing to it that packaging and shipping of custom swag box items are accomplished with success)

· Allows employees to order swag themselves. Giving your employees access to affordable custom swag makes the process efficient since they can just simply go and purchase it, whether through rewards credits or with their own money. Another benefit to this is if a certain employee needs swag for promotional use and distribution for their assigned clients, they don’t need to run this by any other outfit in your company. The carefully selected custom swag box items are pre-approved for employee use and distribution, which cancels the need to wait and have their selections approved by a higher body. In the fast-paced world of marketing and promotions, this will help you stay ahead in the visibility game.

· Options for public or private swag store. The benefits of a company store managed by professionals is that you can choose whether or not you want it to be for private or public use. There are companies that choose to set up a company store for the exclusive use of their employees. In this set up, they may provide options for employees to pay for their chosen items with their own money, or to redeem items each year care of the company. Whichever direction you want your company swag store to go, you can easily inform your swag store management team to tweak it for that.

· Can be used for conference attendees as well. Nothing is as big a logistical nightmare as coordinating with different suppliers just to have access to affordable custom swag for an upcoming conference. One of the benefits of a company store is the person in charge of procuring promotional merchandise simply needs to log in to their company’s best swag stores, select the items that are needed for a particular conference or event and just wait for the team to facilitate the purchase and delivery of said items. This saves a lot of time and effort if your goal is to procure affordable custom swag in the least amount of time.

· Easily streamline swag management. Working with a company that specializes in setting up and managing the best swag stores means the responsibility of storing and distributing any item at any given time falls on their lap. You can do away with designating office space to keep your promotional swag and you don’t have to worry about coordinating with delivery personnel to have items delivered to appropriate recipients, since the company will attend to that as well.

Sample Items in Cool Swag Stores

A brand swag store will carry a variety of items meant for different target markets. Here are some great company store ideas for swag items that have been used by companies that Gemnote has already worked with:

Branded T-Shirts and Long Sleeve Shirts

Pocket Tee with Tag, Long Sleeve Shirt with Graphic Print, Bella Canvas Heather Shirt

Great for everyday use, the t-shirt is a mainstay in the list of best company store ideas for apparel swag. Great ideas for your t-shirt swag is to have your company logo heat-pressed on the front chest, or a small embroidered patch for a more discreet take on branding.

Branded Sweatpants and Joggers

Alternative Apparel Joggers, Champion Sweatpants, Alternative Apparel Sweatpants, Champion Sweatpants

Always useful for lounging or for fitness, you’ll be surprised to find out just how much a pair of sweatpants is coveted when it’s included in a company swag store. The gartered waist makes it a great option for fitting a number of waistlines, but you can always ask if your preferred item comes in a variety of sizes for a closer and better fit.

Branded Jackets and Hoodies

Bella Canvas Full Zip Hoodie, Patagonia Better Sweater Jacket, Arc'teryx Softshell Jacket, North Face Jacket

Like sweatpants, hoodies are easily snapped up by eager employees who are excited to claim their company rewards from the company swag store. Hoodies have a lot of use for any employee, from protecting them from the rain to keeping themselves warm in a cold, air-conditioned environment.

Branded Ceramic and Camper Mugs

Kinto Ripple Mug, Modern Tall Camp Tumbler, Miir Copper Camp Tumbler, Kinto Fog Mug, Monaco Ceramic Mug, Classic Diner Mug

Branded mugs are the quintessential swag merchandise that will always find a home in many an employee online store. They make great, useful additions to event swag bags, so don’t forget to choose one or two options that will surely see constant orders throughout the year – for both employee and conference attendee use alike.

Branded Water Bottles and Tumblers

Kinto Travel Bottle, Kinto Travel Tumbler, Miir Coffee Tumbler, Miir Double Wall Bottle, S'well Bottle

Who can resist a branded water bottle? Today’s times have always stressed the need to stay hydrated, so these wonderful suggestions make meeting today’s water quota a lot easier. These top picks are known for being stalwarts in the water bottle brand world, so you won’t go wrong including a number of these in your own store. When it’s time for you to make a list of promising company store ideas, the water bottle should be at the top of your list.

Branded Socks

Escuyer Crew Socks, Custom Socks, Melange Socks, Color Block Crew Socks

Good quality branded socks are top picks for discerning employees who want nothing but the best as they redeem the current year’s company swag. Made from the best fabrics with options to customize with your brand logo or name, these deliver comfort to the wearer while adding to brand visibility in a not in-your-face manner.

Branded Blankets

Woolrich Wool Blanket, Faribault Woolen Mill Blanket, Custom Sweatshirt Blanket

We don’t know anyone who doesn’t utter a sigh of satisfaction upon discovering a branded blanket in his swag box or jump at the chance to order and own one from the company employee store. Branded blankets offer a multitude of personalization options, from nifty pockets to custom tags and everything in between. They are very useful and are always well-received, especially for frequent travelers who never forget to bring and use a comfortable blanket while on the plane. Now that’s a great way of marketing your brand across multiple borders.

Branded Backpacks and Duffels

Topo Rover Backpack, Timbuk2 Tuck Backpack, Patagonia Arbor Backpack, Rains Water Resistant Backpack

From the utilitarian drawstring backpack to a branded utility pack, this type of bag is something that many employees love getting. It’s never a bad idea to have a spare backpack, especially if they’re as nice as these options. These high quality options become reliable companions for an employee’s daily commute to work, or even to a beach-side picnic for the long weekend. Having said that, it is a must to include a backpack in your roster of employee items in the company store, because it’s easy to anticipate a high demand for it!

United By Blue Duffel, Rains Weekend Duffel, North Face Gym Duffel

Tips for Establishing the Best Swag Stores

Choosing items for your company store is easy when you try to imagine which particular goods you think your employees will like and will best convey the type of business that you run. Here are additional tips that will further fine-tune the particulars of planning for and setting up your online company swag store:

- Improve your product roster by accommodating a wider price range. Include items from different price ranges so there is always something for everyone. Some employees are content with using their redeemable allowance on small and useful items like mugs or key-chains, but there are also others who like to target higher value items like backpacks or sweatshirt blankets. Having a good variety of items will also make it easier for your company events planner to select items for particular events, as one type of gathering may necessitate luxury type of items while another requires simple and economical options. 

- Plan for your rewards programs and other promotional events for employees as you choose your company swag items. A great way to jump-start enthusiasm for your swag store is to immediately implement a variety of rewards programs when the store is up and running. This can help build up excitement for the store, as more employees become eager to see what they can possibly claim and how they can work their way towards it.

- Don’t be afraid to ask for suggestions from the swag store management professional. With years of experience, he is in the best position to help you plan for an impactful employee online store that will see a lot of activity and generate big wins for many of your company goals. Not only can he suggest great items to include in your own swag store, he can also give you an idea of how else you can utilize the swag store to your company’s benefit. 

- Ask for provisions for inventory reports and performance. Did you know that an online swag store is also a great repository of information on your company? By studying which items are fast-moving and which ones are not (among other types of information that can be analyzed), you can gain a better understanding of employee culture and tweak your policies to improve that. Getting the data on this is easy because most swag store management professionals are equipped with the software used to generate such reports, so it’s just a matter of requesting it and having it on your desk in no time.

Putting a Lot of Thought in Creating Swag Stores

The best swag stores enjoy success because they take the time and effort to really create an online platform that contains relevant merchandise for both employees and company clients. They don’t just choose random items and expect their employees to like each and every one of them.

Setting one up for your company puts you one step ahead of your competition in terms of brand promotion and visibility, and adds an extra dimension when it comes to incentivizing employee performance.

Analyze your items regularly, and always update it with new additions to keep things fresh and exciting for all!

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