Entertainment 720 Forever
January 10, 2012 12:09 PM   Subscribe

Small business promotions filter: good source for a US or Canadian service that will (manufacture and) ship one-off promotional items as occasional customer rewards?

Does anyone have a recommendation for an online service that will (manufacture and) ship one-off promotional items as occasional customer rewards?

Okay, I really suck at this retirement thing.

I'm not going to link them here, but two of my cute little hobby "businesses" have really taken off in the last six months or so, when I finally started giving them a little attention, and now they are actually (gulp) making unexpected revenue. I don't really want to make money here, so I need to burn some expenses on that lovely "promotion and advertising" category, and while at it I'd like to reward some of my clients/customers/readers with logo-branded t-shirts, baseball caps, coffee mugs and other typical but decent-quality corporate swag, Entertainment 720-style. Nothing too unusual.

Getting the stuff made is easy, and I know there are a gazillion promo item manufacturers out there. (I get all their free pens, too, yeah.)

The problem is with fulfillment/shipping. If I was in the US or Canada, I would just by a crate full and mail them myself, but I'm living overseas almost full-time now, and traveling when I'm not, so I really need a place that will manufacture-and-ship one at a time to users who are mainly in the US and Canada. (I'm not going to mail $5 coffee cups across the ocean.)

I already maintain databases of validated names and addresses, of course, so no interaction with the recipient is needed: these will be surprises in the mail. In my imagination, I fill out an online order form once and awhile to send someone such a gift, and the mythic manufacturer/shipper that I'm looking for will send them an item without any $ info. I'd like something that works in much the way that I can already send anyone a (generic item) gift from Amazon whenever the urge takes me, for example. The recipient gets a nice surprise in the mail a month later, and I get one big bill once and awhile. Or I prepay. Whatever.

I'm talking pretty low volume, too: a couple hundred mailings per year, maximum, and probably less than that, maybe only one or two every week. Obviously I'd need a sample of each item so I knew it would be OK quality first. Or I'd gift myself first as a test, I guess. Speed doesn't matter: nobody's expecting anything, so if it takes a month, fine.

If a single source that will source/make and also ship is too much to hope for, then I would like to find at least a fulfillment house to which I could ship a crate of crap for them to mail out as needed, whenever I click a "Send quantity 1 of item #003 to Matt Haughey at this address..." button.

(Again, getting the stuff MADE is the easy part, I don't need recommendations on that part by itself.)

So..... who does this?

If what I want is a pipe dream, someone please tell me so. I'll sleep with fingers crossed and check back in the morning.
posted by rokusan to Computers & Internet (2 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Maybe it's just because I'm not 100% awake, but I'm not quite sure what your situation is....have you checked out CafePress or Zazzle? You can do individual orders of logo items and they take care of the shipping. If you have a bulk order of a particular item that you need shipped individually, look into Fulfilled by Amazon.
posted by radioamy at 7:59 AM on January 11, 2012

Response by poster: Sorry for the late-night rambling question. Too caffeinated. Reading it again now I see how I could have been more clear with 1/10th the words.

CafePress would sort of work, except I am pretty sure they: (1) charge each item individually to my personal credit card (messier than a single store account) and (2) though it would not show the cost, the recipient's package would display my personal name/address as "A gift from" on the packing slip/receipt.

There might be ways around this (a "business" credit card and PO box just for my hobbies?) but in general CafePress looks more set up for online sales than gifting, and what gifting exists is very personal-oriented. A Cafe Press-like service with more businessy processes would be ideal.
posted by rokusan at 9:18 AM on January 11, 2012

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