This year’s nine winners of the coveted PPAI Pyramid Award In Technology know it’s all about first impressions. That’s why a website that gets it right is so important. Forward-thinking, user-friendly sites generate more sales and impressions. And aesthetically pleasing company stores and websites eliminate frustration, giving clients tools and information to be successful. Inspiring solutions and new ideas, websites mark the beginning of the promo lifecycle.

This year’s winners were carefully selected by a team of industry judges. PPAI’s technology competition, one of five annual Pyramid Award programs available to member companies, recognizes the most compelling and useful websites based on judges’ assessments of the use of images, content relative to the intended audience, ease of use and creative delivery. Winners are recognized in the categories of e-commerce, mobile apps/websites and web content/functionality.

e-Commerce Website

PPAI 143612, D12
Kenosha, Wisconsin

Smilemakers serves McDonald’s audiences with seasonal and evergreen branded merchandise collections that support a variety of solutions, from crew care and incentives to customer promotional giveaways and rewards to corporate events and milestone recognition. These carefully curated collections are available via a fully integrated, e-commerce website promoted by a team of creative and digital marketing experts that drive enthusiasm and interest for McDonald’s branded merchandise. About 20 IMS team members worked on, a mobile-responsive site designed to deliver an intuitive and simple shopping experience. Users can easily shop for specific products, programs or events, or quickly request support for custom projects.

PPAI 212648, D11
St. Cloud, Minnesota

The team at ePromos has made significant visual improvements to the company’s website to improve the shopping experience and make the site more accessible for all users. The updates focused primarily on accessibility elements and developing faster loading pages to optimize the site’s functionality. The updates to navigation and filtering, along with improved imagery, have contributed to a better overall user experience.

Using a data-driven approach, the ePromos team improved navigation by adding intuitive filtering and an updated category hierarchy to make it easier to get to pages via search. Decisions like prioritizing alt text on images and paying more attention to details improved the readability of design elements on the site.

Overall, these site enhancements led to a 16% increase in online orders and a 21% increase in online conversion rates over the prior year.

Mobile Apps/Mobile Website

PPAI 772580, A00
Gardner, Kansas

PromoPulse was created for promotional products professionals to find ideas, inspiration and information quickly and easily from suppliers, service providers, associations and thought leaders. The promo industry generates hundreds of new pieces of content daily, and PromoPulse makes it easy to search, share and save that content. Distributors can personalize their content by choosing which publishers they want to follow, and they can choose how they wish to consume the content: via app, daily email, Alexa or a searchable infinite scroll web feed.

In 2021, overall usage grew 100% over the previous year, with 54,000 viewers and 52 million content impressions across the system, and PromoPulse launched an automated marketing platform to help distributors increase their sales.

PPAI 113948, S11
Lawrence, Massachusetts

With more and more users working remotely, Gemline works constantly to ensure that its mobile website is optimized to provide customers with a quality shopping experience to meet their needs wherever they may be. The streamlined, responsive website makes browsing on smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices easier. The mobile site features a clean, retail-inspired and customer-friendly layout that features full product descriptions, detailed decoration information and alternate product images.

Gemline also enhanced and increased video content by transforming the style of product videos for a more stimulating viewer experience. A new lifestyle image library was added to the site as well to provide customers with the capability to search and download lifestyle images for use in their marketing materials.

Web Content/Functionality

PPAI 552077, A1

The commonsku site is designed to provide a positive first impression to distributor and supplier prospects, giving them a high-level overview of the capabilities of the commonsku platform, commonsku events and the community. This includes an intuitive, research-based pillar page with top navigation featuring visitors’ most common areas of concern and questions.

Throughout the site, commonsku maintains a light and bright aesthetic in line with its brand. Software can be intimidating, so the company cleaned up the most visited areas of the site and published clear and concise copy to explain the software to create a low-stress experience. These changes resulted in a drastic improvement in the number of demo requests received from the “Why commonsku” and distributor feature pages specifically, as well as a general increase in website traffic.

Corporate Specialties
PPAI 200872, D3

The Corporate Specialties blog features editorial-quality articles that illustrate the core of the company’s concierge-style service. Like a hotel concierge who knows the best restaurants, the Corporate Specialties team knows what promotional products are trending, on-brand and will get results. Blog content focuses on categories that clients want and are biggest sellers, like eco-friendly, apparel, drinkware, bags and tech. Corporate Specialties also focuses on marketing and branding, including a three-part series on marketing strategy that’s the cornerstone of its approach.

The result is a well-rounded content plan that keeps customers informed and allows them to spend less time narrowing down the thousands of product choices so they can make more educated purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

Showdown Displays
PPAI 254687, S11
Brooklyn Center, Minnesota

The Unbranded Virtual Showroom by Showdown Displays is intended to provide an immersive and interactive product experience for distributor partners and their clients. Initially conceived as a method to address the transportation and presentation of physically large and cumbersome products, this initiative was accelerated by the challenges of remote presentations created by the pandemic. The elimination of in-person events and presentations evolved into an opportunity to reimagine product presentations and experiences.

This comprehensive virtual showroom platform unites a virtual environment with multiple informational efforts into a single experience provides users with swift and easy access to product education and information. All points within the environment were conceived as end-user friendly, giving Showdown Displays reseller partners the freedom and ability to share this environment with their clients.

Eight Legged Media
PPAI 348394, A1
Park Ridge, Illinois

DASH is designed to bring a simple, cost-effective marketing platform to the promotional products industry, with the following tools as part of its core set: email marketing, social media marketing, design tools, digital catalogs and statistics.

During the initial setup of DASH, distributors can choose to automate all, part or none of their marketing. When automating email and social media marketing, users select the suppliers or product categories they would like to send to their lists and how many they would like to send/post per month. After that, the system takes over and searches Eight Legged Media’s archive of supplier flyers and supplier social media accounts for content. It places the art files into a preselected email template and messages the user’s client list. For social media, it schedules the files to be posted to the selected social media accounts. These services make digital marketing easy and accessible for even the smallest distributorships.

PPAI 110772, S11
Braintree, Massachusetts

After the success of Catalog+ in 2020 and 2021, HPG developed Storyboard+ to enable distributors to quickly make effective sales tools themselves, customized with their client’s logo on every product they’re presenting.

The tool allows distributors to upload a logo and see it rendered on hundreds of HPG products instantly. The client logo is analyzed as it is uploaded so that products closely matching the primary color can be suggested and stock art options customized. The user can select the product virtuals they like, upload their own company logo and then instantly turn the collection into a shareable storyboard, choosing what product information is visible, such as price, MOQ and SKU. The storyboards can be shared using the unbranded URL via email or social media, as well as downloaded as a PDF.

Storyboard+ was launched at The PPAI Expo 2022 and saw more than 4,000 unique, instant virtual storyboards created by over 500 distributors within the first four months.