(Updated for 2022)
BEATING THE “OUT OF STOCK” ROADBLOCK
Yes, we know. EVERYTHING you order these days is delayed in one form or another - from school supplies and clothing to outdoor furniture and SUVs. The past and current effects of COVID-19 are everywhere. Labor shortages overseas keep items from shipping on time. Railcar space issues in the Midwest and trucker shortages at ports mean that these goods get waylaid for weeks. Even products that finally make it to warehouses get sucked up by backorders. Supply chain challenges abound, and there are shortages everywhere - of time, material, and patience.
So what’s the next big merchandise inventory roadblock to overcome? Your branded promotional items.
THE POWER OF GIFTS
Many of our clients give out branded merchandise throughout the year, since it’s so powerful in building loyalty among customers. In fact, 96% of respondents in a 2021 study cited how corporate gifting improved relationships with both customers and employees. And if the larger market spend is any indication, it is paying off in real money. The corporate gifting market is expected to grow 6.6% year-over-year in 2022, versus 5.2% during the same period a year ago. It is estimated that the market will increase from $258 billion in 2022 to $312 billion in 2025.
As the biggest season for gift giving rapidly approaches, we wanted to arm you with a primer on how to surmount these roadblocks and get your promotional distribution to your customers and employees - gifts that are on theme, on budget, and most importantly, on time.
FIRST OF ALL, RELAX
You still have plenty of time to order and fulfill personalized gifts for the upcoming holiday season. And we can help. Ironmark has been in operation for over 60 years, and throughout that time we’ve built rock-solid relationships with partners across industries. “We’re not a one-trick pony,” points out Ironmark SVP of Sales Scott Kravitz. “We can offer our customers a variety of different options when something is not available.” Whether it’s large format printing projects, branded merchandise, or other printing needs, Ironmark can help you overcome any supply chain issues. For instance, if one partner is experiencing delays, we can work with other partners to get that item, or something virtually identical, more quickly.
So let's explore some of the items projected to be popular this year:
BREAKING THE BACKLOG ON APPAREL AND FLEECE GOODS
Always popular items, branded apparel and fleece goods are gifts that are already signaling a delay for the holidays. However, if you open up your search to a blue shirt, instead of a blue shirt in a particular brand, it will likely be easier to find. Since we work with a number of different suppliers, we can also try to find the exact brand you’re seeking. We can focus more on domestic brands to eliminate overseas shipping delays. Either way, starting now means that we can overcome the obstacles and get your apparel and fleece items here on time.
SUPPLY CHAIN ISSUES: THE PAPER CRUNCH
Not only is a paper shortage an issue for your company when it comes to communicating with your customers, it’s also a big part of how companies like to spread holiday cheer. Many businesses send greeting cards and use billboards and other large format signs to share goodwill. But paper is another item that’s seeing serious delays, and you don’t want to break communications when there’s an easy fix.
What’s the secret to unlocking this logjam? Ironmark has been in the printing (hence paper) business since our inception, and we’ve developed enviable relationships with our mills, suppliers, and distribution partners. Depending on your needs, we can work with them to furnish you with the paper you need - and store it for you as well. We recently completed a large print project where we purchased the paper several weeks in advance to ensure it was ready and avoid any last-minute scrambling (or unnecessary price hikes). We can do this with large format, banners, and other items as well. The key is thinking ahead. Now is not too early to be preparing for the holidays (or any future days) with a print buy.
GETTING AHEAD OF OTHER TRENDING ITEMS AND MERCHANDISE INVENTORY
There are a number of items that are projected to be sold out this season. No pun intended, but backyard fire bowls (and their smaller hand warming/marshmallow roasting cousins) are super hot and can be beautifully imprinted with your logo. These perceived high-end gifts turn heads with their sleek designs, and are appreciated for their smart practicality. Whether they are based in the backyard or go mobile at a tailgate, they warm hearts everywhere. And when tracking trends, home remains the place where the heart is, so products that celebrate get-togethers and being home are more popular than ever. Items like branded blankets, mugs, and glassware are welcome (home) gifts.
On the flip side of staying home, adventure products are another must-have this season as the world opens up and people continue to travel. From luggage, to coolers, to sporting goods and vacation-wear apparel, these items will be flying off shelves, so you’ll want to nab them now.
WHAT ABOUT PRICING?
Good question. Supply chain problems are one thing, and pricing is another. Kravitz notes “Pricing is definitely fluid, but don’t let that get in your way, because we can still compete. We can come up with a solution and also show you some alternatives.” This is true with any printed product you need. And again, the earlier you order, the better your chances of securing competitive pricing.
TIME TO GET GIFTING!
It’s been a difficult 2 years and counting. Small gestures like branded merchandise make huge differences in how your customers feel about you. Now’s the time to thank them for sticking with you - and encourage them to hang in there. And don’t forget your most important customers - your employees. You can show them that you care and recognize the hard work they’ve put in under unrelenting conditions. From increased loyalty, to better morale, to stronger relationships, gifts like these keep giving all year long.
RELATED POST: THE HOLIDAYS IN AUGUST
So what are you waiting for? We have plenty of time to get the items you need to the people you want to reach, whether those items are branded merchandise or other printed needs. The longer you wait, the more you’ll run into supply chain issues, high prices, and a whole lot of avoidable headaches. Many of our partners have inventory that we can tap for you right now. Our goal is to get you what you need at the right price point and at the right time. So even though it can seem stressful to think about the upcoming holidays, our advice is this: start planning now.
We expect that this trend will continue through at least the first half of 2023. For strategies and insights watch our 2021 webinar, Corporate Gift Giving. Stay up-to-date with the latest trends by subscribing to our monthly email, Image Nation. If you’re proactive, you’ll be rewarded well with on-time print products. And your grateful customers and employees will be your best reward.