Before you start building the store, there are some details that you will need to work out first. To make the store building process as painless as possible, work through these details with your client.
1) Learn the purpose of the store.
The first step to starting a successful Company Store program with your clients is to learn as much as possible about the type of program your client wants to run. Get details.
What is the problem your client has and how will an internal online store help solve that problem? Is this going to be used for an employee reward program? Perhaps the store is going to be set up for a client referral program. Maybe the marketing team needs a quicker way to order and ship tradeshow giveaways. Or HR needs to use the store for new hire packages and uniforms. What about print materials? Maybe your client needs a way for the store to organize and manage business cards and letterheads for their 500 employee staff. There are countless reasons organizations start a Company Store.
While you are discussing the purpose of the store, now is a great time to talk about the possibility of the store serving multiple purposes. For example, the store can be a place for marketing to get their promotional giveaways, HR can also use it for new hire purposes, and employees can use it to re-order business cards and uniforms. Having this discussion with your client early on in the process could spark light into how one Company Store can solve multiple tasks for the organization translating to a more extensive program now or future program growth.
2) Find out how often will orders be placed.
Will it be daily, monthly, seasonally or quarterly, or even just once a year? And how much is the organization anticipating to spend on products? If the company spend is low, perhaps a Simple Store solution will best fit their budget and won’t require too much time on your part to build. On the flip side, if it’s an extensive program that’s going to be widely used, it’ll be worth the investment for you to make. It’s important to note that no program is too big or too small – there is a store solution out there to fit your client’s budget.
3) Figure out who the audience will be.
Next, you’ll want to learn as much as you can about who will be shopping in the store, why will they be shopping in the store, and how often they will place orders. Find out if the store is going to be used for internal purposes only or if the general public will have access to the store as well. Will users need to have different experiences from one another? For example, with Permissions, you can set up the store so when someone from the Marketing Department logs in, they’ll see the items needed for promotional purposes, but they will not see the new hire packages available to a member of the HR department.
Is this store primarily for corporate employees who spend their working days in an office with a desktop or laptop or will it be used by in-the-field employees who rely mainly on their cell phones or tablets to get their work done? All stores are responsive, so the screen size will adjust no matter the device you use. If you know ahead of time that the store will cater to individuals ordering on mobile devices, you can make sure that design of the store makes it as easy as possible for mobile users to order their products. Otherwise, you could risk having a sitting store that rarely gets used.
4) Talk about the design of the store.
By now, you’ll have gathered information on the type of program your client wants to run, how often orders will be placed, who will be shopping in the store, and how they will access the store. All the information you need to determine if a Simple Store is best for your client or if they need a Company Store solution. The reason this matters to design is that a Simple Store is meant to launch quickly with minimal effort to store design – you’ll add a logo and customize a few colors. With a Company Store, you’ll want to get detailed design direction from your client. A Company Store should be an extension of their brand so get a copy of their brand guidelines for design direction. Once you pick a store theme, you can customize it with the theme designer to their exact specifications. Or, you can have our design team help create a store based on their website for a seamless shopping experience.
You’ll also want to know if additional pages need to be set up to help the shopper. We always recommend a Contact Us page in case the user has questions they know how to reach the store admin who can help them. An About Us page is a fun way to explain the purpose of the store to shoppers. You might want to have an FAQ page to answer common questions shoppers have about how to order their products and what to do in case of returns.
5) Determine if you need to charge sales tax.
While sales tax is not everyone’s favorite topic when it comes to managing a Company Store program, you’ll be thankful to have worked it out early in the process. When it comes to sales tax options, we recommend talking with your accountant to make sure the store complies with regulations. If the store needs to collect sales tax, you can integrate with a third party such as Avalara to manage the nitty-gritty details and provide you with real-time calculations. You can utilize our zip code sales tax feature that will pull in the location-based tax rates, or you can input a custom sales tax rate.
6) Work out a shipping strategy.
Next, you’ll want to work out with your client who is going to pay for the shipping charges, what shipping methods will be used, and where the packages will be delivered. There’s a lot of flexibility in the stores when it comes to shipping. You can set up permissions on the shipping method so, for example, anyone in the Marketing Department can use overnight shipping while all other employees have to use ground shipping. Users can also save addresses in an address book. You can integrate with FedEx, UPS, or USPS to pull in shipping rates or use ShipStation to manage all shipping accounts in one location and generate pick tickets and packing slips.
6) Discuss how users will “pay” for the products.
Company Stores often serve as a distribution center for your clients. We put the word “pay” in quotation marks because often, store users are not paying for the products out of their own pockets. It is an option, yes. You can set up payment gateways to accept credit cards or withhold from a paycheck or accept a check. We find that with most Company Stores, the organization is paying for the products. Your client might want to provide each employee with a dollar amount to spend in the form of an account balance. With custom payment options, your client can use cost center, GL codes, department codes to have employees pay for their products. To make sure spending doesn’t get too out of hand, you can talk with your client about setting up a Manager Order Approval System (MOAS) where the employee’s manager has to approve the order before it is placed. You can also set up group budgets that will give a group of users a certain amount of money to spend in the store. For example, the marketing department gets a $50K budget while the HR department receives a $30K budget. It depends on what your client wants to do, and they have options!
Of course, all of these steps are centered around the product in the store. We didn’t forget about that crucial element! We’ve got a blog post to help you with the selection and product setup and a blog post to help you manage the products.