Sunday, January 30, 2011

No One Wants to Talk Any More

One of my 'extra curricular' activities is occasionally contributing to the online blog site, Technorati.

Lately it's become more and more obvious that some of the companies that I've routinely dealt with for years have no interest in talking (vs. emailing, IM etc) with you anymore when you have a question to ask.

I'm also seeing this trend develop within the promotional products industry given the rise of online distributorships. For many - and I'm really seeing this with buyers just out of college - it seems like its just easier to deal with a website as it doesn't take long to complete a transaction and we're all so pressed for time.

Believe me, I can relate....and it's a great model -- until something goes wrong have a question - even a simple one. Seems pretty basic right...have a question, call someone who can give you a quick answer. Used to be common it's become a business opportunity.

Anyway, here's an excerpt....and a link to the full article. Enjoy....

Every day I’m more and more convinced that Corporate America thinks it’s a great idea to put up walls between themselves and their customers. Internet commerce provides a great excuse to either outsource customer service, turn much of it over to some very advanced customer relationship software or pretty much drop it altogether.

Watching the onset of this – and the way it seems to be spreading like an epidemic among our largest corporations — the only conclusion I can reach is that many of these companies simply have no interest in talking to their customers.

Article first published as Customer Service Is So....Old School
on Technorati.


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Benefits of 'Name' Branded Apparel


Wearables comprise a large chunk of our overall business - approximately 40% - and it’s a business that has changed quite a bit over the past two decades. Probably the biggest change has been the influx of popular ‘name’ brands into our industry over the past few years. Back in the 90’s this wasn’t the case. But along came Corporate Casual and with it, a customer driven demand for name brands that shows no signs of slowing down.

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Of our clothing vendors, the Sanmar company seemed to recognize this before anyone else when they brought Nike into our industry. Nike Golf's products, in turn, not only helped vault Sanmar to the number one position among wearable wholesalers, they also opened the flood gates to an onslaught of retail and work wear brands as these companies realized the advantages of selling their products in the corporate marketplace.

The ones that have succeeded, to date, are the brands that understand the unique needs and challenges that the promotional products industry presents. Specifically having enough inventory on hand to meet client demands and the ability to get the product shipped out quickly given the constant deadline pressures that exist in the corporate marketplace.


The list of name brands available for purchase through Geiger is both large and growing. In addition to Nike, it includes Carhartt, The North Face, Reebok, Champion, Columbia Sportswear, Cutter & Buck, Ashworth, Tommy Bahama, Independent Trading Co, Weatherproof and many more.

With brands like these you’re going to pay a little more, but you’ll also realize the benefits that the so called promise of these brands entails. You get the quality of the garment itself plus the value of tying your own brand into the prestige associated with a Carhartt, Reebok etc. If you give someone a Reebok shirt or Carhartt jacket that's co-branded with your own logo, you’ll be making a powerful statement about what your own company stands for.


There is One Exception

The North Face is an interesting exception. They will NOT allow their garments to carry any logo but their own. In fact, if your company purchases their products, they’ll make us (you and Geiger) sign waivers promising not to decorate them.

Their feeling is that any embellishment of their garments weakens The North Face brand. They have chosen, to this point anyway, to pretty much ignore the corporate marketplace. However you can still, under the right circumstances, make a statement by giving these out and you'll find our prices for The North Face Products extremely competitive.

I would just recommend that if you go with these it be a situation where the recipients will always remember who gave them the jacket -- though granted that's not easy without a co-branded logo on the garment. However you could add a zipper tag, packaging or another item that includes your logo.

Geiger's Advantage

We have one in that we have direct distribution relationships with many of these brands. For example, Carhartt distributes through other industry suppliers, meaning you’ll pay more from our competitors who are forced to go through those vendors. Geiger on the other hand buys directly from Carhartt, so you’ll pay less for their products through us and we’ll also have the most up to date information about their constantly changing inventory situation.

Thanks to our buying power, we have similar direct relationships with several other retail brands.

Some Points to Keep in Mind

Stock is often an issue- It’s the nature of the beast with popular brands, so you should be prepared for the possibility that certain sizes or colors may have to be back ordered. It happens much more often with name brands than private label or other industry oriented brands.

Frequent Changeover- Styles get added and dropped much more frequently than with industry specific brands. This is due, I think, to the retail mindset of always having to stay fresh. Some lines – Ashworth immediately comes to mind – seem to always be changing their styles up.


You Can Get Similar Quality for Less- There’s a company called Zorrel which actually supplies Nike Golf with a lot of its shirts. We carry Zorrel’s full catalog and on average their products cost 30% less than Nike’s. So you get Nike quality, but not at Nike prices. Tommy Bahama products are offered to the industry via supplier Eagle Dry Goods. Eagle has a tight relationship with Tommy Bahama and in fact, also offers some private label ‘Tommy Bahama-like’ shirts, which are made by the same folks. Same quality, different label – and a lower price.

There are actually quite a few so called 'Industry Brands' which are made just as well as their counterparts with the famous labels - some are even made in the same facilities. If you would like more information about branded wearable items, please contact me.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Time for Some Optimism....

Say what you want about CNBC's Jim Cramer...and there's been plenty said about him. Personally I like him...but his style can give you a headache if you watch him too often....anyway, the other night he predicted the Dow to rise 15% this year to the 13,300 level...reason being that companies are starting to make money again...are as lean as they can get...and will start hiring again - in a big way.

Full story (complete with typical Cramer routine) is here if you're interested.

What I like about Cramer is he's not afraid to walk out on a limb...and he'll own up to his mistakes. That, plus the fact that he's been right often enough to have a long running show and legion of devotees to me make him someone worth paying attention to.

If his prediction is on target, now is the time for companies to make their voices (i.e. their brands) heard loud and clear amid the projected roar of another growing economy....kind of like Cramer does......