FedEx Office, a subsidiary of FedEx Corp. that sells printing, packing and shipping services, has launched an ecommerce website in which anyone – from small businesses and schools, to corporations, nonprofits, healthcare systems and more – can have their logo put on a range of promotional products, purchase the items, and have them shipped to locations of their choosing. Promo distributor Harland Clarke, which is part of marketing solutions company Vericast, is operating the FedEx promo site on behalf of the shipping giant.

“We are thrilled to be collaborating with FedEx Office to bring this platform to life and support businesses in elevating their market presence,” said Scott Hansen, executive vice president of marketing at Vericast. “This effort comes at a time when organizations are seeking new ways to remain visible and extend their reach as they continue to recover in an uncertain environment.”

Harland Clarke already has experience running promo products ecommerce sites for mega brands. The distributorship operates such sites for Costco and for Walmart. 

Meanwhile, the FedEx Office ecommerce site features a range product categories. They include apparel, food and candy, drinkware, bags, writing instruments, technology, health and wellness (including face masks), sports and outdoors, home/tools/auto, toys and games, and trade show events.

FedEx Office is launching the ecommerce site at what it believes is an opportune time, noting that businesses across industries are working overtime to build brand recognition and to drive company growth as the economy begins to emerge from the depths it fell to amid fallout from COVID-19. Promo, FedEx Office thinks, can play a significant role in powering such revenue-building efforts.

“Through our business insights, we know our small to mid-size business customers are looking for solutions that will keep their brand top of mind as they reopen and work to reengage with their customers and drive revenue,” said executive vp & chief operating officer Kim Dixon. “This branded offering is the latest example that demonstrates the FedEx Office commitment to provide our customers trusted services and solutions to grow their businesses.”

Distributors ASI Media spoke with said they didn’t see a serious competitive threat from FedEx Office’s promo venture. “My belief is that customers buy from companies that deliver outstanding customer service and offer a personalized offering to the buyer,” said Joseph Sommer, owner of New York City-headquartered distributor Whitestone Branding. So while a “big player” entering the industry raises eyebrows, it “doesn’t faze me, knowing we will beat them every day of the week on what really matters, and that’s delivering outstanding service to our clients,” Sommer asserted.

Kathy Finnerty Thomas made a similar assessment. “We don’t really see a threat from this,” said Finnerty Thomas, president of Chandler, AZ-based distributor Stowebridge Promotion Group (asi/337500). “Our business is not an online order-taking business. We focus more on getting to know our customers, understanding their needs, desires and struggles, and then finding great solutions to help them.”

She continued: “For small businesses, these marketing decisions are very personal because they often involve money coming out of the owner’s pocket. The clients we work with love having someone to help guide them and educate them in the great ways to use promotional products and apparel, as well as help them with artwork.”

Both Finnerty Thomas and Sommer felt FedEx entering promo could be a net positive for the industry. “It completely reinforces the fact that businesses see tremendous value in promotional products to grow their business, build loyalty and reward/recognize their teams,” Finnerty Thomas said. “With FedEx in the mix and encouraging the use of promotional products, I feel it helps us all.”

According to a recent FedEx Office study conducted by C-Space, small business owners use personalized products to support a number of business needs—engaging with customers and employees, promoting their brand at trade shows, and for special occasions. “Businesses that have experienced a financial setback due to COVID-19 are scaling spending in this area and looking for promotional products that are cost effective and will deliver the best ROI by helping drive brand awareness and maintain relevancy,” FedEx Office said in a statement.

The study found that while masks and hand sanitizer are in-demand now, these items are not expected to be a top need post-COVID, and further revealed the promotional products preferred most by small business owners include note pads (59%), post-it notes (59%), t-shirts (55%), and bags, such as tote bags and clear bags (54%).

Source: ASI Central