EPromos.com Takes On Competition With Redesigned Web Site

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EPromos.com last week announced the redesign of its retail Web site, www.epromos.com, which sells customized promotional items such as pens, hats and coffee mugs.

Founder/CEO Jason Robbins said the redesign was an early step in his firm's plans to invest $2.5 million this year in Web design and technology as it prepares for increased competition in the online promotional gadgets market. He said that much of his Web site's makeover was to improve customer service for its mostly business clientele.

For instance, the Web site now features a learning center where ePromos customers can get tips on which items would best suit their company's promotional needs. The site also will offer customer service representatives and custom product design.

Robbins said his New York-based company currently offers 3,000 items but will increase its product list to 10,000 by the end of the year. He said the product expansion is part of his firm's plan to temper incoming online competition, which will ultimately determine the extent to which his 1-year-old business will seek to expand.

"We could be profitable right now if I decided to stop investing now and just live off the business we have," Robbins said. "But for now, we want to keep growing and see what kind of competition lies ahead. We want to see what our competitors do and react accordingly."

Other players in this market include Sir Print, Panama City Beach, FL, and BizBuyer.com, Santa Monica, CA. Robbins said ePromos.com's customer focus is unlike these competitors because his firm generally targets small to mid-size firms, even though it has served large corporations such as American Express and Apple Computers.

These customers place orders at the site as needed, instead of signing long-term distribution agreements with ePromos.com. Robbins added that sales have increased by an average of 70 percent in each of the past several months, but he declined to give more specific figures.

Robbins said the promotional gadgets market has over 17,000 online and offline players that have a stronghold on manufacturers such as pen retail firm Bic Corp. or sticky note seller 3M.

These manufacturers depend enough on massive orders from promotional middlemen/design specialists such as ePromos.com that they would not dare to bypass merchants in the supply chain, Robbins said.

"This is a weird industry," he said. "The second Bic starts selling promotional pens direct, I'll never buy another Bic pen, and they know it. So they won't sell direct. That's just how this industry works."

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