At the end of February, PromoStandards held its inaugural Tech Summit in Tampa, FL. The event was designed from the ground up to be laser-focused on the integration needs of the industry. Not surprisingly, it was truly incredible.
PromoStandards Chair Eric Alessi was honored to open the event and share his thoughts.
There was a time well after the automobile, electricity, and the telephone were invented when people were still driving a horse-and-buggy to their candle-lit homes. Now we see electric cars that can drive themselves. From integration to AI and data privacy to cybersecurity, the entire landscape is eroding and evolving; by extension, so do our businesses.
We’re seeing how technology can transform an industry, marketplace, business, and even users. Digital transformation goes by many names: business process automation, electronic data interchange, systems integration, digital integration, and digital enablement. Technology is transforming everything. Today, people walk around with a mobile computer in their pocket, connected to the Internet through high-speed, wireless, and digital communication, the core concept of which was invented in 1876.
Data is at the heart of everything we do, and it's growing for businesses and individuals alike. This digital matter builds industries, societies, and the world.
Businesses are waking up to the inadequacies of the old ways of doing business and looking to transform to meet the digital realities of today. There are inefficiencies in the supply chain, and individuals have the capability to make their personal supply chain efficient. Automated data processing is the number one goal. Untouched by humans, it's managed and leveraged, providing amazing results.
The promotional products industry is unique in many ways, and mainstream solutions didn’t quite fit. The standards for the retail supply chain don’t work for us, and for a long time, many in the industry couldn’t see how we could get there. The industry wasn’t ready, even just 10 years ago.
That all started to change with the founding of PromoStandards. We openly shared a vision of optimizing our supply chain and transforming it through open standards and digital integration.
It takes us coming together as a community to develop and adopt open standards. Every member of PromoStandards and every adopter proves what’s possible for our industry. We see the potential in integrating and automating the process, eliminating the labor, errors, and time required to complete the order lifecycle.
Technologists and business leaders have a place to come together as a community to learn, discuss, and build the future. In this place, they develop state-of-the-art standards and work to understand the technological needs of the industry in an open and organized manner. This place is PromoStandards.
Every member of PromoStandards strives to make their businesses more efficient and their internal and external customers happier by leveraging technology.
PromoStandards knows what they’re doing is right.
Know what is going on with your supply chain by attending our educational events and renewing or becoming a member today!
You can also stay up-to-date with the latest news from PromoStandards by following us on social media on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube.
The inaugural 2023 PromoStandards Tech Summit was the largest event in the promotional products industry. This sold-out event featured two days of education tracts focusing on industry-relevant technology and PromoStandards integrations. More than 150 participants representing 75 companies attended, thereby connecting technology and business leaders across the supply chain.
Here’s an overview of the speakers and the topics they discussed!
Eric Alessi, Chair of PromoStandards and President & CEO at Essent Corporation, welcomed attendees and set the stage for what to expect!
Then Dr. Tom Stablein, Director of the Global Master of Science in Business Analytics & Information Systems Program at the USF Muma College of Business, took the stage as the keynote speaker. His topic, Generating Value from Data: Building a Data Science Practice, defined data science and went over modeling, identifying business needs, designing a roadmap, and more.
Michael Conway, Managing Director of Digital Transformation at Aspirant, spoke about Executing Digital Transformation. This session educated professionals on how to align customer experiences to strategic business goals.
Catherine Graham, Co-Founder and CEO at commonsku, was the leader of the panel discussion on Digital Transformation on the Factory Floor. Other panelists were Donough Deutsch, VP of IT Systems and Operations at alphabroder, Philip Gergen, Senior VP of Technology at Koozie Group, and Jon Norris, COO at Starline Inc.
This discussion investigated the impact of digital transformation on factory floors and warehouses across the promotional products landscape.
“The Tech Summit is a place to get together, learn, and rekindle old friendships and make new ones. It’s an opportunity to keep the momentum going for overall technology adoption,” said Graham.
Participants then engaged in roundtable discussions, with Rebekah Ellis, Information Technology Analyst at SanMar, as the session leader. Topics varied from promotional product-specific to technology in general. People met others with the same interests or who were trying to solve the same problems.
There were four breakout sessions.
Jon Norris then had an open-mic discussion on My Worst Day in Tech. Audience members chimed in on a lighthearted recanting of tech transformation horror stories. After all, not every day in technology is glamorous.
Philip Gergen kicked off day two of the Tech Summit!
Mike Pfeiffer, VP of Technology at American Solutions for Business, was up next. He showed attendees what it’s like to experience a cyberattack. They walked through the timeline, what protective measures are effective, and how proper response strategies are deployed.
Day two featured a detailed launch and walkthrough of PromoStandards’ latest standard! Eric Shonebarger, President at Hit Promotional Products, Inc., showed live demos of the industry-altering Order Management Service, the nonprofit’s most significant release in three years.
“The Tech Summit is the best opportunity to engage a community of forward-thinking technology professionals who are driving digital transformation in the promotional products industry,” said Shonebarger.
Eric Alessi, President & CEO at Essent Corporation, was the leader of the panel discussion on Identifying and Solving Industry Pain Points. Other panelists were Daniel Hodges, Senior VP of Engineering at OrderMyGear, Mike Pfeiffer, and Eric Shonebarger.
This panel explored the pain points of the industry from order processing, supply chain, and technology standpoints, helping to develop the roadmap for PromoStandards and our community.
An awards ceremony during the event recognized Hack-A-Thon winners and individual achievements within the industry. Proforma CTO Brian Carothers was named Distributor Person of the Year, ZOOMcatalog Co-founder Bryony Zasman was named Service Provider Person of the Year, and Hit Promotional Products, Inc. CIO Raj Mukherjee was named Supplier Person of the Year.
“Everyone should join the PromoStandards community, where industry technology is developed and advanced,” said Alessi. “The world is being digitally transformed before our eyes, and PromoStandards is the vehicle for being part of that transformation.”
Are you ready to join the PromoStandards community and make a difference? To become a member, sign up today!
Did you know that February is technology month; who knew?
The month contains many days dedicated to technology, including:
February is also nationally observed as Free and Open-Source Software (FOSS) Month!
As we make our way into February, PromoStandards Chair Eric Alessi felt it was only appropriate to recognize the significance FOSS Month holds for PromoStandards and our technology-driven world.
Starting in 2017, the National Day Calendar has recognized February as FOSS Month to recognize the cooperative approach to computer programming, open licensing, and free distribution of software. Now, that’s something to get excited about!
Free and Open-Source Software provides publicly available code for users and contributors, allowing users to alter the code, such as:
The collaborative development of varying independent sources has proven to be much more effective than any single company in creating and sustaining a diverse range of design perspectives.
Open-Source Software is more important than many people realize.
Open-Software Solutions do not have borders. They significantly improve the world as they are significant resources for global institutions like:
The FOSS benefits are undeniable for many and highly relevant to the PromoStandards mission:
“To leverage the Open-Source Initiative so we can provide the fundamental processes, protocols, and education necessary to make custom product industries more efficient.”
For information on the Open-Source Initiative, please visit https://opensource.org/.
February has always been a special month for PromoStandards.
In our early days, our founders met every February in Tampa. The purpose of this annual trip was to collaborate in person to develop the standards—the respite from the frigid February winter up North was also enjoyable.
This year, we are continuing that tradition. We are genuinely excited to have the time to reconnect as experts in custom products industries and passionate providers of accessible computer programming standards.
PromoStandards has been busy innovating, and we have a lot to announce as we embrace February as our very own Promo Technology Month.
As we continue to empower the industry through Open-Source Software, we are also hosting our PromoStandards Tech Summit from February 19 to February 21 in Tampa!
It may be wintertime and cold for most of North America, but as far as promo technology goes, it’s hot.
Here’s to the PromoStandards Tech Summit and Promo Technology Month!
PromoStandards had a great kickoff to the new year. During the PPAI Expo in Las Vegas, Nevada, PromoStandards had a Member's Lounge room on Monday, January 9, from 9 am to 5 pm PST and held January’s education session, The Power of PromoStandards, from 1 pm to 2 pm PST.
In this month’s session, they dove into how PromoStandards isn’t just a standard; it’s a transformational way of conducting business within our supply chain.
Eric Alessi, President & CEO of Essent Corporation, is also the Chairman of PromoStandards. He said, “It’s always exciting to see the turnout and interest in PromoStandards along with the opportunity for trading partners to meet face-to-face.”
Jon Norris, Chief Operating Officer at Starline Inc. and Immediate Past Chair of PromoStandards, started his presentation by stating PromoStandards is the only open standard for the promotional products industry. There are:
PromoStandards standardizes the transfer of vital information to move transactions forward, and companies that start using PromoStandards enter a movement that’s bringing integration, automation, and efficiency to the supply chain.
Catherine Graham, Co-Founder and CEO at commonsku, is also a Current Board Member and Committee Chair for PromoStandards’ Service Provider Committee. She went over how PromoStandards creates a new, better way of working.
Key benefits for distributors include:
Graham said after the event, “It was wonderful to see such a range of distributors, suppliers, and service providers show up at the PromoStandards education event at the PPAI Expo. There were great questions and engagement, with the attendees keen to see how we can continue to progress and drive implementation of digital transformation across the industry.”
Eric Shonebarger, President at HIT Promotional Products, Inc. and Standards Committee Chair at PromoStandards, explained why distributors and suppliers in the promotional products industry should integrate their ordering platform. Shonebarger said, “It’s great to see how widely supported PromoStandards has become across suppliers, distributors, and service providers in the industry.”
Distributors and suppliers benefit from the following.
Suppliers specifically should use PromoStandards because:
It’s 2023; customers are going to demand you know what is going on with your supply chain. What can you do? You can attend our educational events and renew or become a member today!
To stay up-to-date with the latest news from PromoStandards, follow us on social media on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube.
It’s only natural to start January by reflecting on the last year and looking to the new year. By all accounts, 2022 was a very good year for PromoStandards and industry integration, and everyone is taking note.
PromoStandards Chair Eric Alessi reflects on how the standards, which are mature, proven, and based on critical needs, have created a network that is getting stronger and stronger.
The industry is confident in PromoStandards, and adopters are encouraging others to integrate. As a result, both adoption and membership are up.
Standards are improving with second versions of the integration endpoints to fill requested features. Additional standards are being developed for new functionality to bring even more efficiency and automation.
Trading partners are building on the success they’ve had in 2022 by implementing additional endpoints and integrating with more partners.
All in all, PromoStandards members are getting involved in the process, and adoption is a great leading indicator of future success.
There is value in integrating, even with one important trading partner. The information that used to take a lot of time and labor to communicate is now done automatically and accurately, providing a hassle-free experience.
Industries organically organize and grow into a strong network with:
20th-century American philosopher William Durant said, in summarizing Aristotle, that success breeds success. Aristotle also said that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
You may be wondering how these philosophers relate to PromoStandards. Through our community, PromoStandards has built a successful network. In doing so, we’re developing even more functionality.
Members and consumers of PromoStandards are key to creating solutions. As adoption continues to grow, so do the opportunities for positive outcomes. Here’s to continued success in 2023 and beyond!
To become a member, sign up today!
We live in an age of digital transformation, an ultra-connected world where the power of the Internet, communication protocols, and application programming interfaces (API) systems can communicate with one another at the speed of light to work as an integrated system. Throughout the world, systems leverage these technologies to transform how we work and play, allowing us and our systems to do more in less time.
The phrase “the whole is greater than the sum of the parts” applies to digital integration, where layers of open standards are fundamentally transforming how industries, marketplaces, businesses, and even users interact with the supply chain. A number of industries have already been radically transformed.
Industries are waking up to the inefficiencies of the supply chain. Moving forward, we cannot rely on email threads and phone-tag to complete simple tasks and get the answers we need.
That’s where PromoStandards comes in. We have a proven vision of optimizing our supply chain and transforming it through open standards and digital integration. Continue reading for ways to make your business better!
PromoStandards makes promotional product business software better through open standards that enable digital integration, specifically designed for the industry.
Leveraging the power of PromoStandards is straightforward. Use software that utilizes PromoStandards integration protocols, or have your software developers use the published standards to implement the protocols themselves.
In making your software better, you improve your business for the entire supply chain, including your trading partners, employees, and customers. However you work, PromoStandards has a way for you to reach your goals.
PromoStandards doesn’t write software; we develop the communication protocols and publish the communication specifications and application programming interfaces (API) that allow disparate systems to integrate. In a sense, PromoStandards wrote the book on how companies in the industry can electronically communicate.
PromoStandards protocols are organized into three major document sets.
The Status Document Set includes:
The Data Document Set includes:
The Transaction Document Set includes:
PromoStandards integration provides businesses with several advantages.
PromoStandards is an open standard, built on open standards. The mature, proven technology suite was first introduced in 2015. More than 1,300 companies are using PromoStandards and representing tens of thousands of integrations. These numbers are growing every day!
While PromoStandards comes from the promotional products industry, the standards were written for custom product transactions in general. PromoStandards protocols are relatively lightweight and easy to implement, leveraging open standards and modern programming patterns. As a result, PromoStandards can be and is utilized by other industries throughout the world.
PromoStandards isn’t just a bunch of great standards that companies happen to standardize on, it’s a community for trading partners – suppliers, distributors, decorators, and service providers – to come together and collaborate on making business better through systems integration that enables digital transformation.
PromoStandards is truly inclusive. Members and adopters include:
Adoption ranges from notable industry suppliers (like alphabroder, Hit Promotional Products, Koozie Group, PCNA, SanMar, and Starline) to large distributors (like Geiger, HALO Branded Solutions, and Staples) along with thousands of users through service providers (like commonsku, Essent Corporation, and Facilisgroup).
Whether you are in the industry, outside of the industry, or somewhere in between, PromoStandards welcomes you to our community and invites you to get involved and adopt the standards.
Organizations throughout the industry see the value and are proud to state, “We standardize on PromoStandards.”
Transform the way you work alongside your trading partners, vendors, and customers by implementing PromoStandards.
With four membership levels, you can choose the one that works best for you. Become a member today and see what the future of your business can hold!
PromoStandards Chair Eric Alessi has always been thankful for the commitment of the PromoStandards community of members and volunteers that have amassed as the non-profit continues to improve the industry through evolving standards.
Recent interactions with members have only made Eric more optimistic about the future of PromoStandards and the industry.
A Recent Reminder
Just before Thanksgiving, Eric met with a PromoStandards member, a prominent supplier in the industry. As is common these days, the member explained that their organization was undergoing management changes.
The member felt it was only right to let Eric know about those changes but that the organization was steadfast in its continued commitment to PromoStandards.
They expressed their desire to further embrace our standards and get more involved in our initiative, reaffirming that what we do matters.
PromoStandards & Member Commitment
His meeting with that supplier was only one of many that Eric has had with other members. Each time he walks away with a renewed respect for PromoStandards’ members and an optimistic outlook on the industry and the role that PromoStandards plays in it.
PromoStandards provides the framework to reduce friction throughout the supply chain, ultimately improving the industry.
The powerful words and actions of our members bolster our commitment to and vision for the industry's future. It’s our members that make improving the industry possible.
We Love Our Community
PromoStandards and our community are facilitators of positive change. We develop open standards that benefit everyone involved.
We thank our members for their continued commitment and adoption so we can continue to improve the welfare of the industry. Here’s to the industry, members, and volunteers that make up our incredible community. It’s a true gift for all.
PromoStandards is actively improving the industry and its standards as it works with its valued members. Sign up to become a member and join an organization that’s for the industry, by the industry.
PromoStandards is a community, and those who become members have access to important information and proven service providers. In this member spotlight, we’ll cover SanMar, the award-winning supplier. Here’s an in-depth look into who SanMar is and how adopting PromoStandards integration helped move their transactions forward.
Based outside Seattle, WA, and family-owned since 1971, SanMar is a supplier of over 20 retail and private brands of imprintable apparel and accessories. This includes Port Authority, America’s No. 1 preferred private label. Plus, SanMar is the exclusive distributor of Nike Golf, Eddie Bauer®, OGIO®, and New Era®.
They work with screen printers, embroiderers, athletic dealers, and promotional companies to tell stories through apparel. While it’s true SanMar makes and sells t-shirts, as well as tank tops, polos, hoodies, backpacks, outerwear, and more, they’re also making meaningful connections. When people wear personalized gear, they become a part of their community, whether that’s a club, team, or movement.
The company has:
In 2016, SanMar began adopting PromoStandards integration. To date, they have been using:
“The goal was to make it as easy as possible for our distributor customers to access the data needed for their systems,” said Mike Knapick, Chief Information Officer at SanMar. “By taking advantage of trading partner integration, customers have the information they need more quickly and efficiently, eliminating the time and work spent tracking down inventory details.”
At PromoStandards, we make it easy to communicate with others in your industry. Find suppliers, distributors, and decorators and send and receive information to them in real time. With four membership levels, you can choose the one that works best for you. Join PromoStandards and start your journey!
Traditionally, we celebrate Thanksgiving by watching the Thanksgiving Day parade and football game and gathering with friends and family for a feast. This time of year, we’re also reminded to give thanks and count our blessings. PromoStandards Chair Eric Alessi reflects on how Thanksgiving started and how thankful he is to the PromoStandards community.
What Thanksgiving Means to Us
Thanksgiving Day, a national holiday in the US, occurs every year on the fourth Thursday of November. It’s easy to feel sentimental, as this is a special time of year. Farmers and professionals alike are reminded that we reap what we sow. When we contribute to our communities, be that family, friends, co-workers, or the organizations we joined as members, we all grow.
Giving Thanks to Our Community
“What I was looking forward to the most for the inaugural PromoStandards Tech Summit this past October was the opportunity to meet with the PromoStandards community face-to-face to build stronger relationships and to say thank you to our members and volunteers," said Alessi.
"The time and energy this community has devoted to the PromoStandards organization and our industries have made us better and stronger. While we couldn’t meet this past October as planned, it deserves to be said: Thank you for everything you do!"
Here’s to a Brighter Future
PromoStandards impacts thousands of people beyond the promotional products industry, and the contribution of volunteers and the PromoStandards community as a whole makes a difference.
Your help creates a powerful ripple effect that touches the lives of others. When you commit your time and talent to a nonprofit’s mission, you make communities stronger and lead to a brighter future for all.
From September 19 to September 26 of this year, PromoStandards hosted its first virtual Hack-A-Thon, sponsored by Essent. During the event, cross-functional teams used PromoStandards’ protocols to access trading partner data and services to develop solutions for real-world promotional product industry challenges.
Keep reading to learn more about this exciting event and the winning teams!
Why Was the Hack-A-Thon Important?
PromoStandards, its community, and Essent have a shared vision to remove friction from the supply chain through tight trading partner systems integration. The Hack-A-Thon was another productive and fun opportunity for the community to collaborate on strengthening the industry.
How Did the Hack-A-Thon Work?
More than 50 participants representing 33 companies from around the world formed seven teams. Throughout the week of the event, the teams met to collaborate and present their solution to a panel of guest judges, which included:
Each team was given ten minutes to pitch their solutions. During that time, they were judged on the following:
The winning teams (first place and runner-up) were awarded $5,000 in cash prizes to share and received additional swag.
The First-Place Team: The Adaptors
The Adaptors rose to the challenge, and PromoStandards is happy to award them first place in our first-ever Hack-A-Thon. The team consisted of the following individuals:
To view The Adaptors’ presentation, please visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jwr-K8nzTQ0.
The Runner-Up Team: Promofound
Promofound also impressed the judges, making it a close call. We can’t imagine how hard it was to make that decision, as the Promofound team also showcased incredible talent and knowledge. The team consisted of the following individuals:
To view Promofound’s presentation, please visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CC2iC3tOtVc.
We want to congratulate the winning teams and recognize the hard work all the teams put into their solutions. We can confidently say that this year’s Hack-A-Thon was incredible and set a standard for the years to come.
As we’re always looking for ways to strengthen the industry, we invite anyone and everyone to become PromoStandards members.
To learn more about membership levels, please visit https://promostandards.org/membership-application.