Monday 22 February 2021

Amazon acquires Selz, a Shopify Competitor

The king of e-commerce, Amazon is stepping up their online game. Earlier this year in January, Amazon secretly acquired the e-commerce platfom, Selz, an Australian company that makes tools that enables businesses to easily launch their own online stores. This may have implications for the promotional products industry that sells branded merchandise on the web.

Last month, the Seattle-based company, which generated $386 billion in revenue in 2020 (a yearly increase of $100 billion) amid pandemic shutdowns and stay-at-home orders, acquired Sydney, Australia-based Selz. Selz is an e-commerce platform and Shopify competitor. Amazon didn’t publicize the purchase and declined to disclose details of the transaction, but Selz announced it in a brief post on its company blog.

“We have signed an agreement to be acquired by Amazon and are looking forward to working with them as we continue to build easy-to-use tools for entrepreneurs,” wrote Martin Rushe, CEO and founder of Selz. “Nothing is changing for our customers at this time, and we’ll be in touch with customers as and when we have further updates.”

Martin Rushe, CEO and Founder of Selz

In recent months, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has zeroed in on Shopify, an e-commerce enabler that has seen its business skyrocket during the pandemic, as a competitor as consumers have turned to online retailers for both essential and non-essential goods during the pandemic.

Shopify experienced 86% growth in 2020, in part because of a rise in online shopping that occurred due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Selz acquisition represents a move by Amazon to compete even more directly with Shopify’s business model.

Between 2006 and 2015, Amazon ran Amazon Webstore, a service that allowed vendors to operate Amazon-powered e-commerce stores from their websites. But since shuttering the service six years ago, Amazon’s third-party vendors – now numbering more than 2.5 million and accounting for over half of Amazon’s e-commerce revenue – have been limited to using the Amazon site to sell their wares.

That appears to be changing with the acquisition of Selz, which will allow e-commerce customers to embed an Amazon-powered e-commerce store directly on their website and in turn, help Amazon to further compete with Shopify, which allows online stores to be built into existing websites.

E-commerce gained fast momentum in 2020 as people shunned in-person shopping for digital solutions during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Amazon has made other moves recently that may impact promotional industry, such as launching Made for You, a custom T-shirt service, and expanded its print-on-demand offerings through a deal with Kornit Digital, a manufacturer of DTG and textile printers based in Israel.

Keep up to date in the Promotional Products Industry

New Amazon Platform to offer Custom T-Shirts Services
Did you hear? Amazon just became a virtual tailor! They recently debuted a new service that enables users to order custom-fit T-shirts with personalised label, online.

Tuesday 9 February 2021

HPG Launches Exclusive Partnership With Fracture

HPG described the arrangement as an exclusive partnership that will see the Braintree, MA-headquartered firm bring Fracture products to the promo space. The announcement is the first in a series of exclusive retail brand partnerships HPG will unveil in 2021 under its new "HPG Exclusive" brand.

Fracture offers a unique method of direct-to-glass printing that results in unparalleled quality and brilliance. Each glass print is hand-crafted in Fracture’s Alachua, Fla., facility, and ships securely in proprietary packaging with mounting or display hardware included. Fracture prints are perfect for a variety of applications—as a modern take on awards, a thoughtful corporate gift, office decor and more.

Initially HPG will offer five of Fracture’s most popular styles, available at a one-piece minimum with 48-hour production times. Sales of Fracture prints will be led by HPG’s specialty team, headed by Nick Lateur, and customer service will be managed by the HPG Exclusive Team out of the Braintree, Mass., facility.

Jason Lucash

“At HPG, our focus is on pushing the boundaries of innovation through our products and partnerships, and Fracture is an ideal brand to help us accomplish that goal," said Jason Lucash, HPG's chief development officer. "We see Fracture being ideal as an individual gift, a great way to brand a space and a modern antidote to a traditional award plaque. It’s hard to describe how brilliant and unique Fracture prints really are until you get them in your hands (or on your wall). The craftsmanship is absolutely incredible, and we can’t wait to get Fracture out into our market. With so many of us still working from home, we see Fracture as a great way to offer personalized gifts that pull double duty as home and office decor.”

Fracture CEO, Abhi Lokesh

“We couldn’t be more excited to take this next step with HPG," said Fracture CEO Abhi Lokesh. "Our shared values rooted in delivering the highest quality products while minimizing environmental impact make HPG the ideal partner as we enter the promotional channel.”

With reported 2019 North American promotional product revenue of $205.7 million, HPG ranked ninth on ASI’s most recent list of the largest suppliers in the industry. The company offers more than 10,000 SKUs from 10 brands.

Monday 8 February 2021

CMS Acquires Progressive Promotions

This month, Consolidated Marketing Services announced their acquistion of Progressive Promotions. Founded in 1987, Progressive will retain their office in Englewood, personnel and contact information. Going forward, the company will be known as Progressive Promotions, powered by Consolidated Marketing Services. According to company executives, the combined revenue of both companies for 2020 was $30 million.

The merger creates one of the largest certified women-owned promotional merchandise agencies in the United States and a powerhouse international provider of custom and e-commerce promotional programs that help companies, governments and institutions build brands, grow sales and profits, engage employees and achieve their cost savings and ROI goal. 

According to Julie Levi, CEO and founder of Progressive Promotions said in a press release. “We were attracted to CMS for its best-in-class, enterprise-grade, e-commerce service offerings, which are a perfect complement to the innovative products and services we currently offer,” 

Julie Levi, CEO and Founder

Levi continued: “Culturally, we knew they would value our employees and help take them to the next level professionally. Globally, we knew they would enhance our presence and enable seamless expansion to many countries. Additionally, their in-house design, data analytics and sophisticated print management teams will help create a one-stop shop for our clients’ marketing execution needs.”

CMS is a nationally certified women-owned business enterprise (WBENC), servicing a wide range of national and global customers from a variety of industries. As a leader in special event merchandising and identity apparel programs,CMS specializes in in-house developed e-commerce programs, which are backed by kitting and fulfillment via a network of company-owned warehouses. CMS and Progressive’s combined client roster includes American Express, Kraft Heinz, Levi’s, MetLife, PGA and more globally recognized brands.

“Combining services and sharing our breadth of expertise with another like-minded, industry-leading, woman-owned business only solidifies our position as the go-to for marketing and promotional products for enterprise-level clients,” said Charleen Smotrycz, president of CMS. “This acquisition will further allow us to attract additional blue-chip clients and large, complex projects on a national and global scale.”

Wednesday 3 February 2021

Top 40 promotional products distributor BAMKO aquired Gifts By Design

Earlier this month, Top 40 promotional products distributor BAMKO aquired Gifts By Design.

Born in 1989, Gifts by Design is based in Seattle,WA, they offer unique quality promotional products, excellent service and customer-focused marketing. They are best known for providing corporate awards, incentives and recognition programs for household name brands. Financial terms of the deal have yet to be released. 

With reported 2019 North American promotional product revenue of $108.6 million, BAMKO ranked 19th on the most recent list of the 40 largest distributors in the industry. The firm, pivoted heavily to sales of personal protective equipment in 2020 as a result of the pandemic.

Gifts By Design generated about $18.2 million in revenue in 2020. The firm’s sales are expected to be accretive to the 2021 operating results of Superior Group of Companies, BAMKO’s parent firm.Moving forward, Gifts By Design will operate as the Awards, Recognition, and Incentives Division of BAMKO. 

Jamie Stone, president and founder of Gifts By Design, will remain with the business as the president of that newly formed division.“Joining forces with BAMKO is not a decision we arrived at lightly,” said Stone. “I’ve known the BAMKO team for years. As I’ve watched their growth and success in recent years, it became clear that BAMKO is something very different from the rest of the industry. BAMKO has distinguished itself with its unmatched technological capabilities, an award-winning creative team, an incredible overseas sourcing operation, and an unparalleled ability to win and service major program business for the world’s biggest brands.”

Stone believes that joinging BAMKO will also create incredible opportunities for our employees, and offers their clients access to the most impressive set of capabilities in the industry, and gives them a platform upon which to build the best and most technologically advanced awards, incentives, and recognition solution in the entire industry.

Jake Himelstein, chief operations officer and chief financial officer at BAMKO, said acquiring Gifts By Design enables BAMKO to become an industry leader in the growing awards/incentive/recognition market.

“We also have an immediate opportunity to extend the unique suite of capabilities and services that only BAMKO has to offer to develop new verticals across Gifts By Design’s existing customer base,” said Himelstein. “In so doing, we will be able to strengthen and deepen those client relationships and expand our sales footprint with them.”

Phil Koosed, president of BAMKO, said the culture that Gifts By Design has built over the years is a great fit for the Top 40 firm. “By joining forces, both companies will immediately become better with increased capabilities and product offerings,” said Koosed. “We are adding talent and proven leadership whose positive impact will reverberate throughout the entire organization. Our employees and clients will benefit substantially from the opportunities that this acquisition creates, and we cannot wait to get started.”

Keep up to date in the Promotional Products Industry

Mergers & Acquisitions in December

Here at Promo Gift Blog, we keep up to date with the latest news about the Promotional Products industry. As we close of the year, we saw a surge of mergers and acqusitions this month. Here are some of the mergers and acqusitions of December.

Tuesday 2 February 2021

2020 Distributors’ Annual Sales Lowest Collective Tally since 2013

2020 was defintely a challenging year for all of us in the promotional products industry. According to ASI's Distributor Quarterly Sales Survey, distributor's sales dropped by 19.8% in 2020 compared to 2019.

Last year the distributors's total annual sales was $20.7 billion, which is the lowest collective tally since 2013. However, the decline of less than 20% seemed encouraging, considering that earlier on in the pandemic, promo firms deared a steeper decline of 30-40%.

Regardless, some firms including 4imprint did fall into a steeper decline range, they reported a sales drop of 35% in 2020.

2020 Promo Products Sales Growth graph

2020 Product Sales pie chart

The industry’s pivot to personal protective equipment (PPE) prevented a more precipitous year-on-year decline. PPE/hand sanitizer sales accounted for $6 billion in revenue in 2020 – 29% of all industry sales. If you exclude PPE revenue from the total, distributor sales would have fallen 43% for the year.

Industry Sales line graph

Traditionally the 4th quarter is the promotional industry's strongest quarter,distributor sales were down just under 17% year-on-year, a significant improvement from the 44.4% plummet in Q2.
“Although the demand for PPE decreased after the initial panic buying early on, the demand picked back up in late Q3 and throughout Q4 with our AIA community seeing large recurring orders,” says Nancy Schmidt, CEO of Top 40 distributor AIA Corporation. “This, coupled with a healthy increase in traditional promotional products sales in Q3 and Q4, provided for a nice close to the year."
According to Kevin Walsh, CEO of Showdown Displays, "COVID-19 appears to have had less of an impact upon distributors who were able to more nimbly react and respond to the shift in market needs,” “2020 was tough, but also inspiring,” Walsh says. “I’m excited about the year ahead, but reasonable at the same time. We anticipate 2021 will start slowly as the vaccine is beginning to become available and that it will accelerate in the summer, rising rapidly in late Q3 and into Q4.”

Distributors Sales Increase/Decrease pie chart

The industry’s largest distributors (revenue of more than $1mil) fared the best in 2020, with sales being down, on average, by 15.3% compared to 2019. Meanwhile, the industry’s smallest distributors (revenue of $250,000 or less) reported an average year-on-year sales drop of 33.1%.

Monday 1 February 2021

Don't miss January Promo Gifts Updates from Our Top 5 Picks

Promo Marketing

Towel Specialties, Baltimore, announced the promotion of Shawn Kanak to president. As both president of Towel Specialties and an integral member of the executive team, Kanak will oversee national sales efforts for all three divisions—Towel Specialties, Cobblestone Mills Blanket Company and Xpress Towels.

ADCO Marketing

With the exciting development of the Covid-19 vaccine we now have a path back to “normal” life. Dr. Anthony Fauci says that at least 80% of the population will need to be vaccinated to get the country back to normalcy. Handing out promotional items such as buttonsbracelets, and stickers to those who have been vaccinated will increase consumer buy-in.

RC Denver - Promotional Products Blog 

Sustainability is more than a trend – it's a long-term shift in thinking. With EcoSmart®, we've made it easy to find the best sustainable products and make good choices for the planet.

And what makes these promotional products better for the planet? Most often, it's the unique materials and fabrics. Each one has an interesting story about how it became part of a branded umbrella or backpack. 

Sourcing City News: The Pen Warehouse

The Pen Warehouse has been shortlisted and is in the running for the Family Business of the Year Awards 2021. Awards up for grabs are by sector, regional and national. National titles are awarded in respect of entrepreneurship, innovation, small family business and spirit of family business.

ODM Group

Table tents are a self-standing table or counter display, which features a restaurant’s delicious offerings to customers. But this table tent is different from all the others we have seen in restaurants and bars. This one is a POP display and a charger in one! So, if you are a restaurant, bar, or coffee shop owner, here are the reasons to invest in such a promotional display

Interviews From Thought Leaders in the Promotional Industry - Matthew Boorer

 What were your 3-5 best selling products last year? (Bags, shirts, pens, drinkware etc.)

We have had some traditional promotional products best sellers such as Drinkware, Bags, Caps, Pens. However, as a result of the pandemic, we have recieved more intrest in Safety Products (hand sanitiser, face masks and social distancing stickers)

What are faster growing market segments in your region? (banks, automotive, Pharma, Food etc...)

With COVID we saw a bit of a shift in what market segments were doing best. High performers were industries such as e-commerce, online education, online entertainment and home improvement. With a drop in industries such as travel and events that may bounce back sometime in 2021.

Do you visit trade shows. If so, which ones are your favourite and why?

In Australia the APPA tradeshow that's held annually in Sydney is definitely the biggest and best for promotional merchandise. It allows suppliers to showcase new offerings and for everyone to interact in person.

I always love seeing what's new and innovations on the horizon. Unfortunately the 2020 conference was cancelled so I'm looking forward to the event this year.

What are the biggest opportunities you see in your industry?

 think the biggest opportunity is better positioning and education to put promotional products as a staple in all marketing plans.

I also think that in the future companies are going to utilise promotional products better in influencer marketing and on social media. There is also opportunity for merchandise stores for Youtubers, Podcasters and brands.

Any examples of a good marketing campaign you like?

Something we were excited to do last year was individual gift boxes. Where bundles of products were presented in a gift box and sent directly to all of the attendees of a virtual conference.

We got some great feedback and it meant that we could still provide solutions for our customers even without them seeing attendees in person.

Author's Bio
Matthew Boorer - Content Manager
Promotion Products - An Australian Promotional Products Distributor

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