[Guide] How to Set Up Your First Swag Store for Success

10 min read
Nehad Zein
Nehad Zein
Guest Writer

Published: July 30, 2021

What is a swag store?

To put it simply, a swag store (or swag shop) is a store you can purchase company swag from. And these days, it’s usually an online store. But you probably already knew that. What you don’t know is why we think every company needs to have one. Yes, every single company is better off having a dedicated online swag store that sells promotional merchandise. We’ll tell you why, how to get started with a swag store, and everything you need to keep the success going after launching your swag store right in this guide.

Why does my company need a swag store?

A swag store is where your employees, customers and fans can purchase items that feature your company logo and other designs. That in itself should tell you the branding and marketing opportunity having one gives you. A swag store can help raise some extra money on the side, get your brand out there, and increase the value perception and desirability of your brand. Plus, it also gives your stakeholders an extra opportunity to consciously associate with your brand. In today’s digital age, being known to have the best swag is something all companies want and a swag store can also help you achieve that easier. Simply because it requires more investment than traditionally giving out swag.

How do I set one up?

Good question. We’ll cover two of your most obvious options. 

#1) The web designer route: The most obvious way is to have a chat with your web designer and ask them to put up a landing page on the company website that takes visitors to your company swag store. But this means that you’ll have to do the entire process of fulfilling the orders on the backend manually like you usually do. You could use the SwagUp API to build your own solution or leverage the SwagUp integration with Zapier to automate your swag fulfilment. But there’s an even easier method, and that’s… 

#2) The SwagUp x Shopify route: Simply use the SwagUp app on Shopify and your designer can hook it up to the company website. The SwagUp Shopify app is directly linked to us and that means you also get to enjoy SwagUp’s end-to-end fulfilment system. Setting up and running a swag store has never been easier. Yes, we’ve taken away all excuses for you to not start one.

Choosing the Right Swag

All right, you’ve jumped through the hoops and reached the most fun part of the process, selecting your swag. In all honesty, you’ve reached a world of truly unlimited possibilities. But to get going quick, start with all the swag you’re giving away right now and expand from there. The best part is that you’ll never stop choosing swag. Swag needs to be refreshed and reselected to keep in pace with how your business changes. Having a swag store will actually help you achieve this better as you’ve now got a solid visual aid that tells you how your swag store looks in comparison to the rest of your business’ communication. 

When it’s worth it (and when it isn’t)

It’s always worth it — unless you have absolutely no resources to spend on swag. As a rule of thumb, if you give out any swag, you’re better off running a company swag store. But if you haven’t gotten on the swag train yet, we recommend experimenting with internal swag before going ahead and putting up a swag store. But that’s it, there really aren’t any situations where a swag store won’t work for you if your brand already invests in some or the other swag.

8 Ideas to maximize ROI

So you’ve got your swag store set up and running by now. And you’d like to maximise your ROI. 

Here’s a few ways you can do it.

1. Feature it on social media giveaways

This one’s as easy as it gets. You’ve got your store set up and it’s time to market it. Feature it across all your digital outlets alongside an irresistible introductory offer. Then watch the swag go out.

2. Allow employees to choose any swag from the store

The most important benefit of running a swag store is that it forces you to streamline your swag process. Take this a step further by cutting out the time investment required to make employee swag packs. Put together a simple pack featuring a mailer box and custom insert cards. Then let your employees choose the rest of the swag pack. This is a great strategy as it reduces effort from the management side while also making sure that the employee gets swag he/she likes. If you give out swag often, you’ll feel the difference with this one.

3. Provide customers with a discount/redeem coupon for the swag store

Just like it sounds, give out discount/redeem coupons to your most loyal and biggest customers. You can make this work regardless of your industry. If one of your customers fulfills a certain criteria (perhaps spending more than $100 with you), give them a redeemable coupon to show how much you appreciate their business. Swag is after all made to promote your brand. So use it to promote.

4. Get influencers to talk about it

The tried and tested method of hiring influencers is a great way to grab some quick attention towards your swag store. The logic here is, when you’re selling swag, you’re technically selling a product. And if you can market your products, there’s no reason you can’t market your swag.

5. Don’t let it die

Once your swag store has gained some traction, keep it alive with constant refreshes and occasional events. This could be a discount week for employees or even limited edition swag that won’t be available later. Sure it requires some investment. But remember that you’re not simply making money off it. Swag is a phenomenal marketing tool and any monetary gains are simply a bonus.

6. Introduce an archive section that features all swag since company inception

Show off your brand’s evolution with a dedicated page that highlights your most popular swag items since inception. It’ll lend some solid character to your brand while also allowing fans and patrons to own a piece of your brand’s history. Now that’s branding at its best.

7. Nail the details

This one’s perhaps the most important point. Do not skimp on the details. Your swag store is simply a marketing portal that happens to be able to give you some monetary ROI. Pay as much attention to it as you would to your marketing material. Make sure every tiny aspect seamlessly reflects your branding and that the experience is as similar as it can get to any normal purchase from your brand. Consistency and finesse will win the game.

8. Build a community around it, give out unique event swag via the swag store

If you’ve cracked the code and ended up fostering a successful swag store, invite your biggest fans and hold an event to thank them for their patronage. People choosing to identify with your brand (or any brand) is no small thing and showing how much you appreciate their attention will only serve to further enhance your brand’s perception.

Swag Store FAQs

1. What are the general use cases for a swag store?

There’s plenty, but here are the best:

  • Promote your brand with custom branded products.
  • Reward employees, customers and partners with swag they can choose.
  • Provides an easily accessible swag solution to all company stakeholders.
  • Save time and hassle (automatic inventory and the like)
  • Planning and distributing at events in easier

As you delve in, you’ll discover several advantages unique to your brand. The best part of setting up and running a swag store is just how customisable it is.

2. Can a swag store help me streamline the swag process?

Yes. The biggest advantage to having an online swag store is that you can judge your swag designs against the overall visual tone of your website. This’ll help you make sure that the designs you feature on your swag adheres to the brand’s tone. A swag store also helps you determine which items are more popular (because anything digital is measurable), helping you choose swag easier from the second time you do it. Finally, the simple fact that you’re now selling your swag to the public and not just distributing it internally forces you to execute it more carefully, which should undoubtedly lead to a better swag experience for everyone. 

3. How does the SwagUp Shopify app work?

You’ve gone to Shopify, made an account and now you’re wondering how you’ll showcase your swag. After you’re done setting up your Shopify account, go to the Shopify marketplace and find the SwagUp app. Install it with a click and now the SwagUp app will be integrated to your Shopify store. The app works by connecting your SwagUp account to your Shopify account. This means data like your remaining inventory, selected swag items and any other swag related data is relayed in real time to your Shopify account, making it as seamless as possible. It’s so simple, it couldn’t be any easier. Of course, you need to have a SwagUp account (with some swag inventory ) to do this. But setting that up isn’t too difficult either.😉

4. I run a small business, is a swag store worth it for me? 

The short answer is, YES. Like we mentioned before, if you already give out swag, there’s no reason you shouldn’t have an online swag store. Especially with how easy it is to set one up with the SwagUp app on Shopify. However, if you haven’t given out any swag yet and you’re still not sure swag is for you, here’s how you can de-risk the decision: do a couple internal and/or limited, small community runs first to get a gauge on how it works and how your team reacts. Think of it as testing a product internally before the public release. As with everything, you’ll learn as you go. And that’s always a great feeling.

5. Can a swag store help me make money?

It can, but be careful about why you’re starting one in the first place. For some teams, the point of swag is to market your brand, not make a buck or two here and there. When you sell swag to customers/fans, think of it as selling souvenirs, or even more powerfully, an artifact of identification, related to your brand. They’re not meant to bring you a profit or a steady source of income. They’re meant to tell a story, convey your brand’s legacy and legitimize your brand itself. A swag store means your brand has got some personality, and that it isn’t shy to flaunt it!

Interested in a swag store? Connect with a Swag Expert, tell us your goals, and let’s get your swag ready for the launchpad! #tothemoon 🚀

Share to the world

Related blog posts

Stay in the loop

Stay in the loop

Be the first to learn about the latest swag and culture building tips