The, ahem, process
Here’s the thing about all those questions above: It turns out that they also describe most of the process for setting up a company store. There are a few other niceties, but when you set up a company store, you’ll more or less follow the above steps for most of what you do.
What else do you need to keep in mind? Here’s the timeline of a company store program, from soup to nuts.
1. Gather requirements
See above. Ask questions, get answers. Dig deeper where you need to. Collect all this info and package it up in an email or document. Sometimes this will come to you fully packaged in the form of an RFQ from your client.
2. Bring it to your company store provider
There are a few of them out there, including us, SAGE, ASI and a few others. Ask them for a quote and give them the information you’ve collected, including your thoughts on the design of the store (e.g. template or custom). While many company store providers have standardized pricing, it’s always good to present them with everything the client asked for, in case there are customization fees.
3. Present the quote to your customer
You may elect to mark this up, or pass the cost on directly to your client. If you’ve got good margin and expect decent volume (or your customer has committed to volume), you might even absorb the cost of the store itself (for more information on what you should do with company store fees, check out our ebook on the topic).
4. Sign the contracts
You’ll be signing a contract with your provider, and one with your customer. Make it as long term as they’re willing to go.
5. Source the products
Work with your customer to build the product catalog and options for the store. This is also the time to get fulfillment set up if you’re not doing that in house.
6. Get trained!
Your provider will train you on how to enter and manage products. Take advantage of that time, and ask lots of questions. This is also often when the provider will set up the design/template for you.
7. Set up products, e-commerce options, users, shipping and reports
This is the fun part: Building your product catalog, setting up your payment options, merchant accounts, freight carriers and so on. Lean on your provider to help you get this done right.
8. Review and launch
Once you’re happy with it, send the site over to your customer for review. Work out any data issues, and make sure everything works the way they expect.
9. Run it
After launch, your work isn’t over. You obviously have to operate the store and fulfill orders. But you should also engage in marketing the store and its products to make it a success. While some company stores will chug along with little help because of demand, others need your deft marketing hand to keep products moving. Don’t be afraid to suggest freshening up stale products and clearing out old ones.