DiscountMugs and Selling Direct: Is It A Threat To Your Business?
On Monday, February 7, a press release was sent announcing the relaunch of DiscountPens.com, a site that sells customized promotional pens to end-users. Anyone is able to go to the site, select a pen, send in artwork and create a customized piece; in other words, it sells direct to the end-buyer or end-user. The following week, on Valentine's Day, another press release was sent out announcing the launch of DiscountBags.com.
DiscountMugs is the parent company for both sites, and Amin Rahman is referenced as company president for each. Rahman is also the president of industry supplier Bel Promo.
Regarding the announcements, Rahman was unavailable for comment. However, a video on the company's YouTube page addressed the relationship between Bel Promo and DiscountMugs. On the subject of a conflict of interest, Rahman says in the video that DiscountMugs.com existed prior to Bel Promo, and that the two companies target different audiences.
According to Alan Tabasky, vice president of Bel Promo and Hurricane Line, which merged with Bel Promo in January 2010, this is true. Tabasky insisted that while Bel Promo and DiscountMugs are both owned by Bel Inc., they are separate companies and operate independent of one another.
"I try to distance myself as much as I can," he said. "Here at Bel Promo I have all my Hurricane Line customer service people and our Bel Promo customer service people. We have our own customer service department, our own art department, our own shipping department ... everything is separate. Our accounting is separate, so there is no customer information in the database of anybody else's."
Despite being separate operations, one thing the companies have in common is product. Many of the items available on the discount sites are also available to the promotional products industry through Bel Promo. As an example, here is a mug available from DiscountMugs, item 7102, and here is a mug available from Bel Promo, item A7102.