A promotional products supplier functions like a broker, buying and reselling various promotional products to customers eager to enhance their brand image or increase customer loyalty. Just about any item one can think of can be customized somehow with a company or brand logo. Everything from t-shirts to letter openers can be ordered with a custom logo.
When one purchases a lot of custom promotional products, chances are that he or she is not buying directly from a manufacturer. The person in between the manufacturer and the end user is the promotional products supplier. This is usually a salesperson either representing a printing company or working independently. A person that works independently but deals directly with the manufacturer is called a manufacturer's representative.
Since it is costly and time-consuming to put a logo on a product being manufactured, consumers typically have to purchase custom promotional products in bulk. Coffee mugs, for example, are not typically sold individually if the customer wants an inexpensive giveaway. They would need to be purchased by the dozen at a minimum to make it cost-effective. Typically, the more one buys, the lower the cost due to economies of scale.
There are a number of websites now that function as a promotional products supplier and sell directly to the end user. These items can usually be purchased individually, but at a much higher cost. One might want a calendar with an assortment of personal photos, for example, and is willing to pay a higher price for it.
A promotional products supplier takes on a certain amount of risk when running a large quantity of a custom item. If the logo is incorrect or poorly aligned, the customer may refuse the shipment and the printer is stuck with unusable merchandise. This is why it is so important to get a proof approved by the customer before printing begins. A proof can be an actual sample of the item being purchased, but mostly it's just a printing of the logo and/or colors to be used which the customer has to approve.
To become a promotional products supplier, one typically needs experience in the sales industry and contacts with manufacturers. A person may just begin work at a printing company and develop the skills and contacts before branching out on his or her own. It is more lucrative to work for oneself; however, the risk and liability is greater.