A promotional products buying group is a closed network of promotional product manufacturers and promotional product distributors that have negotiated a relationship to encourage transactions between the distributor members and the supplier members of the group. To encourage transactions, suppliers will often offer special pricing to the buying group and pay a rebate to the group based on yearly volume.
If there are 200 different pen companies, a buying group will typically pick one company for the group so that there isn't competition amongst suppliers. Richardson Seating has never been part of a buying group. To the best of my knowledge, we have never been asked to be in one. Hey buying groups, if you are out there and need a bar stool supplier please hit us up.
If I was to become a distributor, I would seriously consider joining a buying group or working for one of the big companies like Halo or 4imprint. There is so much back and forth on a project and working for a bigger company will allow you the staff and resources to process orders. Many of our best customers are part of the big promotional companies. My main contact is usually the sales person and then after the PO is placed, the admins take care of everything else. It is a really great model.
I don't have a book of business so I doubt I would be able to land the type of job I want right out of the get-go. With that in mind, my first stop would be a buying group. As a member of the promo industry for 20 plus years I am familiar with how much work it takes for distributors to win clients. As a supplier we have an easier job, we know exactly who to market to. We market to the PPAI, ASI and SAGE distributors. As a distributor, you have a million products and 20 million prospects. It must be hard to narrow it down and specialize.
Since I am not a member of a promotional products buying group and have never been asked, I don't know for sure if my information is 100% accurate. If you are reading this article and you have any suggestions, please send us an email. Please tell us about your buying group and we will publish links to your data and facts about your group.