June '16

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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46 || P R I N T W E A R J U N E 2 0 1 6 INCENTIVES Building an online apparel store can be a cornerstone in how a business establishes its branding, and helps build trust with customers. Custom- ized apparel with a company's logo simultaneously serves this purpose and makes it easy for employees to comply with regulation apparel. Businesses can also use a corporate online apparel store as an incentive builder for its staff. "It becomes a morale builder," El- son Yeung, alphabroder, explains. He adds that an employee store gives staff a stronger sense that the company has taken the time to invest in them. "Promotional apparel used to be the type of thing that you couldn't wait to throw away. Now the expec- tation is that you're going to receive something you actually want to wear," expresses Yeung. Hunt contends that he's seen com- panies offering employees a quarterly stipend towards company stores. This system is often popular with more uniform-based industries. There's also a tendency, he explains, for dif- ferent tiers within a corporate staff to have a larger budget, like marketing divisions. In some instances, mar- keting managers may need branded apparel to distribute to regional sales staff as a means of reinforcing com- pany recognition with customers. "Offering a company store channels your employees into your approved apparel choices and allows you a measure of control over how you want your brand represent- ed," adds Campbell. Often done through a voucher system, companies can offer yearly incentives to their employees that are personalized and simultaneously carry the company brand- ing. Some common examples include prac- tical items like coffee mugs, nameplates, outerwear like monogrammed fleeces, and plaques or awards with employees' names on them. With any rewards system, it's crucial to keep in mind that the incentives should be products employees will actually want. Campbell recalls a situation where an em- ployer gifted staff with a low-quality lunch tote as a thank you for working extended hours and attending an after-hours team meeting. "This poorly-planned incentive actually caused more friction in the attendees than it relieved," explains Campbell. "Incentives are only as useful as the items are desirable, de- lightful, or as much as they have real utility for the end users." Lloyd suggests occasional sale pro- motions as an incentive for employ- ees as well, like a buy one/get one promotion. Exclusive staff-only coupons and discount codes are also a viable option, she adds. LOOKING AHEAD For the future of branded corporate apparel, a heavy importance is placed on keeping up with current trends. Offering employees styles that coincide with what's happening in the retail world helps create a culture where staff will wear branded apparel out- CORPORATE STORES An online store eliminates the challenge of delivery and frees up resources for an employer. (Image courtesy Inksoft)

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