Ever increasing numbers of products companies have begun to use the internet as a shop window for promoting and selling their products. This enables them to offer cheaper prices and quicker lead times, as well as meeting customers’ demands for convenience and immediate gratification. The best products websites take customers step by step through the entire sourcing and selection process.

This trend was confirmed by PPAI’s latest survey* which found that online sales of in the US have continued to grow slowly but steadily, increasing from $1.6 billion in 2003 to $2.7 billion in 2006. (Online sales are defined as those that result from orders placed through a website or online store.) What is equally interesting to note is that this rise was reflected across the board, irrespective of the size of firm.

The Internet is set to become an increasingly important factor in distributor sales due to the fact that a large proportion of Promotional products buyers now belong to Generation Y, which encompasses anyone born after 1982. This generation is most at ease when establishing and developing relationships – both on a professional and personal level – online rather than face to face.

Although Internet marketing is finally gaining pace amongst Promotional products distributors, the industry as a whole still depends primarily on personal selling which remains the major sales channel. However, what we are likely to see happening more often is a complementary blending of channels, with the Internet used for business transactions and the sales force employed to provide consultation services for promotional products.