Promotional products (aka branded merch or swag) is a $25+ billion industry in North America served by more than 20,000 distributors that’s highly competitive and operationally complex.
Prodigy Commerce, a well-established, Shopify-like, B2C eCommerce platform, was approached by a top 100 promotional products distributor to extend its platform to serve this unique B2B industry.
Programmatic business is the most lucrative element of the promotional products industry for distributors since it provides a persistent presence for their clients (brands) to sell or provide company branded merchandise to their employees and business partners via Company Stores.
Three Keys to Success – Significant Pain Points for Distributors
Since distributors earn the margin on product sales and are responsible for the entire supply chain and for building and maintaining their clients’ Company Stores, the keys to success are:
- Scale – Volume is the goal. A distributor’s sales force needs modern tools and technology to win new clients and expand those relationships.
- Efficiency – Order processing should just happen. Eliminate manual work so everyone can focus on generating revenue.
- Cost Control – Gross margins are thin and only 5% drops to the bottom line. Efficiency is part of the solution, but reducing fixed costs is equally important.
Prodigy Commerce Solves All the Pain Points
There is a wide range of Company Store building solutions. Some are embedded in CRM/ERP systems like commonsku, SAGE, or Facilisgroup’s Commercio, and others are standalone products like Brikl, BrightStores, WebJaguar, OrderMyGear (OMG), and CompanyPromoStore.com. Many use old technology and all are very expensive, charging some combination of:
- License/set-up fees
- Monthly subscription/hosting fees
- Transaction fees based on cart total
- Per order fees
- Additional fees for advanced features and integrations
- API fees
- Credit card processing fees
That’s a lot of fees! Now, let’s compare Prodigy’s pricing to two long-standing solutions that recently came together via acquisition, BrightStores and OMG.
|License fee (one time)
|Hosting fee (per month per store)
|Per order fees**
|Limited to 50 orders per month per store
|7 features and integrations available
|Up to 30,000 hits per month per store
|Credit card processing fees
|2.9% + $0.30
|2.9% + $0.30
* Only applies to Pop-Up Stores.
Prodigy provides hosting through several high-quality partners. For a distributor managing only one store, the monthly cost with Prodigy is $20 compared to $199 with BrightStores/OMG. For a distributor managing say 100 stores, the monthly cost per store with Prodigy drops to less than $10, so the cost savings is at least 90%.
In an industry where only 5% drops to the bottom line, BrightStores/OMG’s transaction fee takes 80% of the profit from any Pop-Up Stores distributors may launch for their clients. Their hosting fee for one Company Store is $2,388 per year, so that’s nearly 1% for a store with $250,000 of annual sales, although, assuming the average order is less than $400, the per order fee probably kicked in well below that level. The bottom line is that all Company Store solutions have been taking advantage of distributors for far too long.
So, what’s the catch, how does Prodigy Commerce make money? It’s really simple, we partner with the payment processors integrated into our platform and they share a portion of their revenue with us. We don’t generate any revenue from distributors or their clients; we only earn revenue when a shopper checks out. Prodigy’s business model is perfectly aligned with the distributor’s goal of increasing sales.
The promotional products industry is operationally complex with 1,000s of suppliers of blank products and decorators who apply brands’ logos and messaging using a variety of techniques. Orders need to be instantaneously routed to these vendors for work and fulfillment to ensure the shopper (usually an employee of the client/brand) receives their merchandise on time. We added two key integrations to our platform to automate the workflow.
Platforms like BrightStores only let distributors connect one Company Store to Syncore, leading to a significant amount of manual data transfer. This is obviously unacceptable; therefore, our integration with Syncore allows an unlimited number of Company Stores to automatically feed into one instance of Syncore.
While Syncore does not send data back to Prodigy, we provide links in Syncore to each Prodigy order. When an order is fulfilled, the distributor can manually mark it as fulfilled in Prodigy if they want the shopper to receive a confirmation email from Prodigy with a link to the tracking information.
Just like with Syncore, BrightStores only lets distributors connect one Company Store to Order Desk. Our Order Desk integration allows an unlimited number of Company Stores to automatically feed into one instance of Order Desk.
Each Company Store in Prodigy includes identifying information so orders can easily be traced to and from Order Desk. When an order is fulfilled, Order Desk automatically notifies Prodigy, and the shopper receives a confirmation email from Prodigy with a link to the tracking information.
When distributors need us to integrate additional third-party and/or internal workflow management systems into our platform, we do so free of charge.
Tech for Scaling
Distributors want and need their commissioned sales force to succeed. To do so requires modern tools and technology to win new business and expand those relationships. The marketing and HR departments of the brands they’re selling into understand the significant ROI that swag delivers, however, they want to see Virtual Samples, or better yet, a Demo Store with their logo and messaging on a wide range of products before signing on the dotted line.
Prodigy’s PromoStandards integration provides access to 400 suppliers, offering several key benefits including the standardization of product data, live inventory checks so available quantities are known and can be presented accurately as in-stock or out-of-stock on the website, and the ability to pull specific product information such as price and imprint area. This integration not only facilitates the management of inventory, but it also helps decorators accurately apply brands’ logos and messaging to products.
Prodigy’s proprietary Logo Management tool, in combination with PromoStandards, allows a distributor’s sales force to quickly build custom branded Demo Stores. Logos and messaging can be added to products and edited with one click. The Demo Store can then be turned into a fully functional Company Store.
With great technology and pricing that lowers Company Store platform costs by at least 90%, distributors can earn a lot more profit and commissioned salespeople can opportunistically pursue smaller brands. Existing client relationships can also be creatively expanded. For example, Pop-Up and Redemption Stores can be launched quickly and the cost won’t exceed $20 per month for hosting. When the store has served its purpose, simply disconnect the hosting, and leave it on Prodigy for a possible relaunch.
Prodigy Commerce Has All the Other Features Distributors Need
As a well-established, Shopify-like, B2C eCommerce platform, all we had to do was add a handful of B2B and unique features to Prodigy to serve the promotional products industry. When distributors need us to add additional features, we do so quickly and free of charge.
- Storefront Design: Fully branded from first click to checkout. Use our templates as is or customize them however you wish.
- Responsive Company Stores: Store designs are fully responsive across all device types. This embraces all shoppers, whether they’re using smartphones, desktops, or tablets.
- Migration Tools: We can quickly and easily migrate all the elements of your Company Store’s product catalog and customer accounts from any other Company Store building solution to Prodigy.
- Clone Store Settings: We can quickly generate new Company Stores for distributors with all their pre-determined sales tax and shipping settings.
- Product Import/Export: Easily import a product catalog of any size using our simple CSV import tool. Since a distributor’s data is their property, we also provide a product and customer account data export tool.
- Security: An SSL/TLS certificate is included with each store, the checkout is PCI-compliant, and we use Google’s invisible reCAPTCHA to prevent card-testing fraud attacks.
- Amazon Web Services (AWS): Prodigy hosts all its stores on AWS, which is known for its speed and performance and provides the gold standard for uptime reliability at 99.999%.
- Password Protection: Access to Company Store websites can be restricted to users who have created an account and members of the general public can be blocked.
- Unlimited Support: We provide free guided onboarding and free multi-channel ongoing support for distributors (phone, email, and online chat).
- Single Sign-On: SSO allows a brand’s employees to seamlessly log in to Prodigy using their corporate network login credentials.
- Tiered Pricing: Distributors can set up different pricing tiers for products based on the quantity purchased. This encourages bulk purchases and helps increase AOV.
- Bulk Add to Cart: Shoppers can add multiple variants to their cart with one click, instead of adding each item individually. This saves time for the shopper and helps increase AOV.
- Manager Order Approvals: Create permission flows for specified user groups when the checkout method is other than with a credit card or account balance (i.e., Bill by Invoice, PO, or GL Code).
- Restricted Categories: Make certain categories only accessible to certain authorized user groups.
- Product Categories: Create as many categories and subcategories as you wish and organize them however you like; by product type such as “Apparel” or “Electronics”, by brand such as “Nike” or “Adidas”, or by usage such as “Gifts” or “Employee Appreciation”, the control is in your hands.
- Product Management: Prodigy has all the tools and settings to effortlessly build and present catalogs, including the ability to add up-sells and cross-sells.
- Coupons and Discounts: Discounts can be set on any product and unique coupon codes can be generated with percentage or dollar discounts. You can also apply those coupons to work in only certain situations.
- Order Management: For distributors who want to use Prodigy to manage their orders, they can quickly assess the risk of fraud, capture payments, fulfill orders (i.e., print shipping labels), handle returns and process refunds, and manage customer accounts all from one dashboard.
- Inventory Management: Distributors can use Prodigy to simply present items on the site as in-stock or out-of-stock or track quantities by SKU/variant.
- Accept and Process Payments: Prodigy ensures that each distributor forms a direct relationship with an actual payment processor instead of going through payment facilitators like Stripe, PayPal, or Square. The elimination of these intermediaries means transactions won’t be blocked and distributors benefit from next-day funding and efficient chargeback management. Our payment processing rates are the standard 2.9% + $0.30. All major credit cards are accepted; Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover. One-click checkout is available for shoppers who create an account or use Apple Pay or Google Pay.
- Account Balances: Create unique redemption codes that represent any dollar amount and share them with your employees and business partners via email for purchases from your Company Store. Since this method of payment circumvents our integrated payment processors, we charge distributors a 1% transaction fee. Redemption Stores, by definition, would exclusively use this method of payment.
- ShipEngine: Get real-time shipping rates from all the major carriers; UPS, FedEx, DHL, and USPS. Choose the carriers and domestic and international service levels you want to offer. Modify the rates up or down by percentage or dollar amounts and offer free shipping options if you wish.
- TaxJar: Provides automated, worldwide, sales tax calculations. Create an unlimited number of nexus locations. Activate this feature with one click from the store settings.
- MaxMind minFraud: Assess the risk of fraud. Every order receives a risk score that is clearly visible on the dashboard. Choose whether to accept or decline an order based on the results.
Give us a call during normal business hours in California at (800) 930-2902 or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn if Prodigy Commerce is the best Company Store solution for you. Getting started is quick and easy.