10 Things You Should Know About The Promotional Product Industry

  • Aug 29, 2019

This is probably true for most business sectors, but it occurs to me often because of client requests that most people are not familiar with how the promotional product industry works.  So here’s a primer: 

·         Distributors, which is who you purchase from, are re-sellers.  It is a rare occasion that a distributor would produce the goods.  Typical example would be that some distributors may own equipment to do small runs of screen printed apparel, etc.

·         Distributors buy from industry suppliers who generally speaking do not sell to the end user, but only to distributors who have a valid id number from the Advertising Specialty Institute or Promotional Products Association International.

·         Your items will rarely come from the city where you are located.  For instance there are no suppliers in Nashville, Tennessee.  We get A LOT of calls from people wanting to know if they can pick up their items to save on freight.  No you can’t.

·         All distributors buy from the same suppliers.  We all sell the same items though some distributors (due to volume) get better pricing from suppliers.  There are also some lines, such as Under Armour, that only a select group of distributors can sell.  Promo Hounds is among the select group.

·         Your goods most likely originated overseas.  The bulk of promotional products are produced in China, though with new tariff increases suppliers are looking to other countries such as Vietnam.

·         Set-up Charges – These are often questioned, especially on repeat orders.  The suppliers charge the set-up charges.  They are charged because it takes person-hours and sometimes materials (screens).  Some suppliers charge repeat set-up charges if you re-order.  Most will not if you re-order within a 12 month period. 

·         There may be several suppliers for the same item.  Since, as noted above, many of the items come from China, there may be more than one supplier offering the same item.  So if one is out of stock on what you want, another may easily have it or one very similar.

·         GET SAMPLES – Trust me since I’m the worst about following this rule.  To really gauge the quality, size, etc. of an item you need to physically see it.  Most distributors will offer a limited number of samples at no charge.

·         Rush orders are risky.  We get A LOT of rush orders, meaning they need to be delivered in less than the normal production time.  The sad part is that 99% of the time it is not the person ordering who waited to order; it was someone above them.  With rush orders you will not get a proof typically, no time for a sample, and if it involves expedited freight it can get very pricey.

·         Overruns/Underruns – What the heck?  If you’ve purchased any promotional product you probably did not get the exact quantity you ordered, and usually you receive a few more.  All suppliers have overrun/underrun policies.  They will state that they can ship up to whatever per cent they use and you will be charged for them.  The reason for this, according to suppliers, is that it takes a few test pieces to be sure the imprint process is correct.  I don’t know.

I hope you found some if this information beneficial.  If you have a question about the promo product/swag industry, email kevin@promohounds.com and I will answer.