The Incentive Business Exchange (IBE) is a cooperative effort of the nation’s leading brands, their incentive fulfillment companies and Solata Technologies that is specially designed to help incentive and marketing firms provide full-service solutions to companies with smaller budgets. This new online tool helps incentive and marketing companies easily set up highly personalized points programs for their clients. The system includes an automated function that creates targeted reward programs using any desired reward or vendor, along with a component that manages end-to-end redemption, fulfillment and tracking. IBE is only available to incentive and marketing companies, and includes an optional service providing these companies with expert assistance with design, execution and measurement of their client programs.
Rodger Stotz, Program Managing Consultant for IBE and Former Managing Consultant at Maritz, supports the core mission of the Incentive Business Exchange. “Numerous attempts have been made to create do-it-yourself incentive program services for the corporate market,” he says. “They have never worked, because it’s difficult to efficiently provide expertise and support to smaller users. In order to take advantage of the growth opportunities in our business, we need a legion of professionals serving all volume levels of the marketplace just like in the direct marketing and advertising fields. I look forward to helping IBE partners bring state-of-the start thinking to smaller programs.”
Although IBE can be used with any desired vendor, the following companies provide direct connections to the Exchange in order to maximize automation, processing and tracking of each redemption.
Founded in 1954, Certif-A-Gift acts as a back-end fulfillment partner to distributors. Certif-A-Gift provides the products and services of a full-service incentive house but, as opposed to an incentive house, acts as the distributor’s silent partner, working behind the scenes to ensure program success. The company specializes in the fulfillment of products ranging anywhere from under $200 up to items costing $5,000, processing all orders within 24 hours and ships from its warehouse, centrally located just outside of Chicago.
Certif-A-Gift Executive Vice President Andy Tobutt describes how the IBE’s objectives align with the goals of Certif-A-Gift: “Certif-A-Gift endeavors to be on the cutting-edge of all strategic incentive and recognition initiatives,” he says. “The IBE will undoubtedly become known as the big buzz in 2009.”
Certif-A-Gift offers distributors a choice between Tier 1 and Tier 2 support for their incentive programs in order to cater to their individual needs. Tier 1 support allows participants to call Certif-A-Gift Headquarters directly. Tier 2 support sends a Certif-A-Gift representative to interact with the distributor’s own internal service staff. Regardless of which tier is chosen, all Certif-A-Gift’s representatives are trained on all aspects of the program, given empowerment to make decisions and follow escalation protocols to ensure a 100% satisfaction guarantee. The company also has the capabilities to personalize shipping labels, printed reward catalogs and Gift Booklets with the distributor’s name.
In addition to online incentive catalogs, Certif-A-Gift offers print versions of its 17-level Plateau Catalogs, Individual Gift Booklets, Deluxe Point Catalog and Condensed Catalogs (for online supplement). Tobutt anticipates the opportunity to be a part of the Corporate Rewards Exchange, due to the fact it will connect Certif-A-Gift to a broader audience. “We are excited to participate in the IBE to further expand our industry leading reward fulfillment services to a wider range of resale partners,” he says.
Partners for Incentives (PFI) is a leading incentive fulfillment company with more than 50 years of experience in the industry. It has a staff of more than 70 employees, maintains an inventory of $1.2-$2 million in awards and ships $25-$30 million in awards annually from its 200,000-square-foot warehouse in Cleveland, OH. PFI offers incentive and marketing companies a complete range of services, including merchandise, travel, administration, program development & design and award-winning communications. It is also the largest provider of printed stock merchandise catalogs in the industry and can custom source awards based on participant demographics. PFI offers more than 4,500 name brand items, over 75% of which are stocked in their own warehouse. PFI ships merchandise within 72 hours from receipt of the original order, and guarantees customer satisfaction. In addition, PFI has a highly capable customer service staff and personalizes all collateral material for its programs.
Company President Mary Anne Comotto expresses excitement at the prospect of providing increased capabilities for PFI’s clients. “The Incentive Business Exchange allows PFI the opportunity to add another innovative incentive tool to our tool chest of product offerings for the many resellers we service in the incentive industry,” she says.
Comotto notes the IBE will allow PFI to enhance its ability to cater to incentive award recipients. “For years we have been the David in a Goliath market,” she explains. “The Incentive Business Exchange will help incentive companies serve the many small and medium incentive users who might otherwise use cash for awards. This will also help make incentive transactions seamless and less costly, as well as providing the superior service incentive award recipients deserve.”
A premium incentive distributor in the United States with 25 years of experience and a network of fulfillment companies worldwide, Harco sources and inventories thousands of merchandise items from more than 300 of the world’s most desirable brands, including Sony, Panasonic, Samsung and other leading electronics companies. The company has a number of long-term buying relationships, an experienced incentive merchandising team, many caring customer service reps and its own 50,000-square-foot warehouse to provide top quality reward items and support for premium and incentive programs.
“We at Harco are excited to be a founding distributor in the Incentive Business Exchange,” says CEO Saro Hartounian. “As one of the largest factory-direct distributors in the U.S. for hundreds of major brands, we’re always interested in ways to expand our customer base with incentive and loyalty agencies that are seeking the best availability, pricing and caring customer service for their premium and incentive programs.”
In terms of customer service capabilities, Harco has an in-house call center with a multi-lingual staff to assist its clients. The company also has the capability to personalize shipping through custom boxes with client logos, colors and themes, inserted “thank you” letters and follow-up offers, gift wrapping for most items and packing label messaging.
“By participating in the IBE, we have the opportunity to expand the products we can include in our programs, because we can buy them most efficiently from other participating distributors instead of having to inventory products from each brand or drop-ship them,” Hartounian says. “After all, most distributors specialize in and stock only certain brands and are therefore able to provide the inventory, pricing and service levels that are required to compete with the massive retailers that are getting into the incentive business.”
Rewards Direct by Maritz is a one-stop shop for reward selection, offering the world’s largest collection of brand name merchandise and reward cards specifically designed for use in incentive, loyalty, recognition and gift programs.
Rewards Direct prides itself on the ability to strategically choose rewards that will engage and connect to their intended audience. According to Rewards Direct, products are delivered with 99.9994% accuracy – far higher than typical accuracy rates found in standard catalog fulfillment. Rewards Direct rewards can be bulk-shipped or individually drop-shipped to recipients’ homes or offices with complete tracking support. The company also provides best-in-class customer service support for recipients, including live, toll-free customer service.
Mike Donnelly, CEO of Maritz Motivation, urges other fulfillment partners and brands to take part in the IBE. “We’re pleased to join with other leading incentive fulfillment companies that can provide real-time access to the most desirable rewards,” he says. “The more incentive fulfillment companies and brands that participate, the more efficient all of us can be in providing our clients with the most purposeful choice of rewards. We are encouraging all of our fulfillment partners and brands to become part of IBE.”
Backed by 54 years of experience in the incentive industry, Quality Incentive Company serves as a one-stop source for reward and recognition solutions for leading incentive and marketing companies. QIC’s comprehensive products and services are designed to facilitate the development, implementation and support of successful incentive and recognition programs by its clients. The company’s services are based upon proven strategies that make the difference for all performance improvement initiatives, ranging from single-order fulfillment to long-term, turnkey solutions.
QIC guarantees that its methods and tools have the ability to produce the desired results, regardless of budget, industry or scope. “As a fulfillment partner, QIC offers tremendous value,” says VP of Sales & Business Development Jeff Sheridan. “Our fulfillment services feature quick order processing and delivery, industry-leading service levels and superior in-house customer care services. Our commitment to superior fulfillment services matches perfectly with the Incentive Business Exchange initiative.”
QIC’s comprehensive products and services “are a perfect fit for incentive and marketing companies looking to implement successful reward and recognition solutions,” Sheridan adds. “And as a partner, QIC looks forward to interacting with a number of other key players in the rewards supply and fulfillment field.”