Strategic Swag: A Business Professional’s Guide to Crafting Promotional Products for Employee Engagement

For decades, companies have leveraged promotional products to help boost brand awareness, strengthen relationships with customers, and unlock opportunities for growth. However, there’s another way to use custom promotional products to improve your chances of business success: creating branded merchandise for your team members.

Branded merchandise, from t-shirts and apparel, to company blankets, water bottles, and mugs are more than just a great way to reward your employees for their hard work, and cultivate a sense of “belonging” among team members. They can also have a significant impact on employee engagement.

Engaged employees are up to 21% more productive, and they’re more likely to stick with your business in the long-term, reducing your talent acquisition challenges. At SplashBrands, we make it simple for organizations to develop branded merchandise stores, so they can distribute creative products to team members, and unlock new levels of engagement.

Here’s our behind-the-scenes guide to using printed promotional products to engage, delight and grow your team in 2024 and beyond.

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The Impact of Branded Merchandise on Employee Engagement

Carefully customized merchandise and thoughtful branded gifts are one of the best ways for businesses to earn the loyalty of their employees. They give you an opportunity to ensure you’re recognizing team members for their hard work and productivity, while also contributing to a company culture defined by feelings of belonging and inclusion.

With creative promotional products companies can:

  • Give employees a sense of belonging: Branded merchandise, like t-shirts and company bags help team members feel like a valuable member of a corporate family. The right merch can bridge gaps between staff members and give them a sense of “ownership” in your brand.
  • Increase loyalty: Branded company products are an excellent way to show recognition to your team members. When employees feel valued and appreciated, their morale increases, improving productivity and creativity, and they’re less likely to abandon your organization.
  • Strengthen culture: Branded gifts can help reinforce your company’s culture and values, creating a sense of pride and unity among your team. They also give your employees a way to promote your organization wherever they are, boosting awareness outside of the company.

At SplashBrands, we’ve already helped countless companies, like Enhabit Home Health, RehabVisions, and Piper Aircraft build their own branded merchandise stores. These stores have given each of these companies the opportunity to significantly boost employee engagement, by ensuring staff members can access a wide range of gifts and practical products, featuring their company’s logo.

Top Promotional Products for Employees

With the help of a company like SplashBrands, there’s no limit to the huge variety of custom promotional products you can create for your team. You can experiment with a huge range of product categories and customize everything to your specific needs.

While preferences for promotional items can vary from one team to the next, some of the most popular options include:

Custom Apparel

Custom apparel is often the go-to option for organizations investing in promotional products for both employees and customers. Not only is apparel practical, but it’s a stylish way for your employees to promote your company whenever they’re out in the world.

You can explore a wide range of options, such as t-shirts, hoodies, caps, and hats, suitable for use both inside and outside of the office. Or you can simply offer access to comfortable, high-quality uniforms and workwear. This is an excellent way to boost the professional appearance of your company.

Tech Gadgets

Technology and gadgets have become increasingly popular for companies investing in creative promotional products. Today, countless consumers use technology both at home and in the office, from headphones for meetings and listening to music, to laptop sleeves and charges.

You could even consider exploring innovative new high-tech gadgets that draw attention to the pioneering nature of your company. Solutions like branded fitness trackers and smart devices are excellent for rewarding high-performing employees with something truly valuable.

Eco-Friendly Items

Sustainability is a major concern for both consumers and employees alike. In one Deloitte study, 69% of people said they wanted the companies they worked for to invest in sustainability efforts, from reducing carbon emissions, to using renewable energy.

Leading companies producing custom apparel and other branded products can create unique solutions that adhere to your sustainability efforts. This might include creating merchandise with recycled or eco-friendly materials or leveraging non-toxic inks for printing.

Building Your Online Store for Employee Merchandise

Creating your own online store where you can promote your branded merchandise for employees and streamline the order and fulfillment management process is an excellent idea. It’s a great way to allow employees to have more options when it comes to choosing the merchandise or rewards they want.

Plus, it ensures you have an easy way to keep track of and manage all the promotional options you can offer. An online store also enhances the employee shopping experience, making it simple for them to request whatever they need from your company without filling out lengthy request forms.

What’s more, in today’s world of remote and hybrid work, an online store for employee merchandise ensures you can reach a wide range of international staff members, no matter where they’re located.

Here’s how you can get started building your own online company store.

Step 1: Choosing the Right Platform

The first step in building a store for employee merchandise is finding the right platform. While tools like Shopify, Wix, and Etsy allow various people from around the world to create ecommerce sites, few companies offer solutions specifically tailored to the needs of employee merchandise stores, which includes the need for sourcing, decorating,fulfilling, and managing orders.

Fortunately, SplashBrands offers companies an innovative new solution for building a custom company store, with direct access to a huge catalog of customizable merchandise. With SplashBrands, companies can set up a fantastic store in a matter of days and customize every aspect to suit their needs. We even offer tools for analytics and reporting, advertising, and budget management.

Step 2: Creating a Branding Experience

Once you have the platform you need to develop your employee merchandise store, the next step is customizing the experience to match your brand. This could mean leveraging a specific color scheme throughout the website’s pages to match your company’s color palette.

It could also mean implementing your logo onto the store’s pages. The right solution provider should also ensure you can extend the branded experience onto the various company promotional products you want to offer, giving you various options for colors, logo placement, and more.

Vendors like SplashBrands make it easy to customize every part of your store, and product collection, as well as giving employees the opportunity to personalize and customize orders.

Step 3: Integrating Secure Payment Options

If you choose the right platform for your employee merchandise store, you should be able to access a range of payment gateway options with ease. There are plenty of solutions out there that are PCI compliant and come with solutions to help minimize the risk of fraud and loss.

Whichever payment gateway you choose, make sure you carefully assess their strategy for optimizing data security. Ensure the data shared by any of your employees will be fully encrypted and protected throughout the purchasing journey.

Step 4: Maximize Employee Participation

Though many employees will be thrilled to have the opportunity to purchase gifts and choose their own rewards from your promotional products store, you may need to invest in raising awareness and improving overall participation. You can try strategies like:

  • Promoting your store: Promote your company promotional products and your store with email campaigns, ads on your company intranet, and social media campaigns.
  • Incentivizing participation: Offer early adopters access to special discounts on their favorite products or set up a rewards program to ensure ongoing engagement.
  • Encouraging feedback: Conduct feedback surveys and ask for direct insights from your employees about how you can improve your product collection or the store experience.
Step 5: Optimize and Improve Over Time

Once your employee merchandise store is up and running, it’s worth looking for ways to improve its performance consistently over time. As well as gathering insights from employee feedback, you can investigate using the analytical and reporting tools on your platform for more information.

SplashBrands offers a comprehensive reporting environment where team leaders and executives can get insights into everything from audience engagement to their topmost popular products and more. This can help you figure out new ways to enhance your store and improve the employee experience over time, increasing your return on investment.

Use Promotional Products to Enhance Employee Engagement

Employee engagement is crucial to the success and growth of every business. However, it can be difficult to cultivate and maintain, especially as employee expectations evolve. Finding new ways to reward your employees, build brand loyalty, and give staff a sense of belonging in your organization with branded merchandise could be an excellent solution.

With SplashBrands, creating the perfect branded merchandise store couldn’t be simpler. We make it easy for businesses to design and customize their stores, run streamlined operations, and deliver exceptional experiences to employees.

Reach out to SplashBrands today to request a demo store for your organization, or ask us about what we can do to support your branded merchandise strategy.