Volunteers Learn to Navigate New Event Merchandise Online System
By Wapiti Wire Staff
Ordering your banquet raffle prizes and auction items just got a little easier. In October, RMEF launched the new Event Merchandise Online system—EMO for short. All merchandise for 2017 events will be ordered online via the EMO, which can be accessed through the Event Invitation System (EIS). The EIS now features an “order merchandise” link which directs you to an online store, where you add items to your cart and checkout in a process familiar to anyone who’s previously shopped online.
The new EMO is part of REMF’s long-term goal to create a complete auction program for chapter event fundraising, where you can handle everything from ordering merchandise to printing auction receipts. It lets RMEF streamline the ordering process while improving efficiencies, and the system’s new reporting tools can also help chapters with merchandise placement and event goals.
In the past, chapters have ordered the products for banquets—found in the Event Merchandise Catalog—via an Excel sheet order form. The forms were then submitted by email to Chapter Services at RMEF Headquarters, processed and sent to vendors. Since RMEF merchandise is a vendor direct program, the 80+ vendors then shipped the ordered products directly to the chapters.
While a boon for RMEF since the vendor direct program doesn’t require Headquarters to carry excess inventory, sometimes vendors run out of the selected products, and substitutions are necessary. That required frequent updates to the spreadsheet, which then trickled down from Headquarters to regional directors to chapters. Sometimes the lines of communications got tangled, and chapters often ended up using outdated versions of the order sheet. The new online system changes things.
“We’re excited about the new process, because it will always be live,” says Brandee Sperry, RMEF Director of Merchandise. The site is constantly updated, so what chapter representatives see is current.
“The other benefit is the reporting capabilities,” Sperry says. For each item you purchase, you must select the item’s intended use from a drop-down menu—whether the item will be sold in silent auction, used during a raffle, etc. The step might seem frivolous at first, but it’s a good planning tool that allows chapters to be more strategic about what merchandise they need, Sperry says. This placement on the front end of ordering will also help chapters become better organized and more efficient. The EMO also generates reports about what you bought and breaks them down by use type. The reports can easily be exported to Excel for better record keeping. In Excel, you can also manipulate the data. For example, it’s simple to add in your donated items, giving you a quick, full list of all merchandise available for each activity at your banquet.
Another tool within EMO helps chapters stick to their budget goals. RDs can input budgets for each use type, Sperry says, and the system keeps track of how much you’ve spent for that category—alerting you when you’ve overspent.
Training sessions will be offered throughout 2017 for volunteers to introduce them to the EMO system. You can find upcoming sessions on the 2017 Banquet Program Webinar Training Calendar, which can be found on the volunteer intranet at Elklink/Volunteer > BGB > Volunteer Information. Included on the training calendar is an “EIS, EMO and Support” class. The hour-and-a-half long webinar includes training about updates to EIS, information about other support materials, and an overview of EMO.
“We have walked through an order process and focused on the benefits and the efficiencies,” Sperry said. Those efficiencies affect just about everyone in RMEF. There’s less room for order error since the site is constantly updated, Sperry says. RMEF Chapter Services’ task of sorting through orders is streamlined. And RDs and chapters no longer have to worry about whether they’re using the most recent order form.
“I think it’s a really good thing,” Sperry said. “For the most part, all of the comments and feedback has been good. People are excited about it.”