Print Branding – The Ordering Process

Order Process Checklist

This page illustrates each step in the process of placing an order, from the first moment you think about ordering something all the way through delivery. Being familiar with these steps helps to ensure your order process is smooth, successful, and timely.

For starters, here is a quick summary of each step that you can use as an “Ordering Checklist” when planning for any given order. The steps highlighted in bold are those which require your involvement as the client:


    1. General product ideas and brainstorming
    2. Review and select specific products to order
    3. Verify inventory availability, lead times, and pricing
    4. Confirm item color, quantity, imprint detail, shipping address, and provide art files
    5. Place your order (submit payment and review/approve art mockups)
    6. S.MICHAEL Creative Branding submits orders to suppliers
    7. Production and decoration of items
    8. Shipment and delivery


Detailed Breakdown of the Ordering Process

This page illustrates each step in the process of placing an order, from the first moment you think about ordering something all the way through delivery. Being familiar with these steps helps to ensure your order process is smooth, successful, and timely.

Step 1: General Product Ideas & Brainstorming

Responsibility: Client/SMCB
Time this step normally takes: Depends on client

Alright! So, you have determined that you need to order some branded items. In this first step you perform the initial brainstorming required to develop some broad product ideas. Your goal is to ensure the products you select are a great fit for the occasion.

Steve can potentially guide you through this brainstorming step, or you can complete it independently, and then inform Steve once you are ready to look at specific product options (Step 2 below).

The amount of time this step requires depends entirely on you. Most often this only requires a day or two, but if you need additional time to discuss your plans internally or mull over your options, this step can extend for as long as you need.

Step 2: Review & Select Specific Products to Order

Responsibility: Client/SMCB
Time this step normally takes: Depends on client

Now that you have some good product ideas, it’s time to explore what’s available by looking at specific items. This is something you can do independently by exploring SMCB’s online supplier catalogs, or it’s something Steve can do on his end (you can also hop on a Zoom with Steve and perform this step together, if desired).

In the event Steve performs this step independently, he will typically provide a curated list of recommendations within 1-3 days based on his industry knowledge and experience. From there, however, this step can potentially require additional time if you want to explore additional options before finalizing your product selections.

Step 3: Verify Inventory Availability, Lead Times, and Pricing

Responsibility: SMCB
Time this step normally takes: Same day

Before COVID-19, it was more of a best practice than a necessity for Steve to verify inventory availability, lead times, and pricing for any given item. These days, however, it’s very much necessary because there are many products that are not as readily available, or which have extended lead times due to COVID-19, supply chain issues, and/or labor shortages.

For most items, Steve can usually call his supplier(s) and confirm this information within minutes – typically the same day. In some cases, though, this step may require a day or two depending on the size of the order, and how many items must be checked.

Step 4: Confirm Item Color, Quantity, Imprint Detail, Shipping Address, and Provide Artwork

Responsibility: Client
Time this step normally takes: Depends on client

Once Step 3 has been completed, Steve will need the “details” from you in order to continue forward. Specifically, you will need to confirm the following information:

  • ITEM COLOR – If the item comes in black, white, and red… What color would you like?
  • QUANTITY – How many of each item do you intend to order?
    • Size Breakdown – If you are ordering something like apparel, which comes in multiple sizes, how many of each size will you be ordering?
  • IMPRINT – How would you like the imprint placed on your selected item(s)? What color, size, and in what location?
  • SHIPPING – What is the shipping address (or addresses) for your order? If you are split shipping to multiple locations, what portion of your order will be shipping to each location?
  • ARTWORK – Unless you hired SMCB to create your artwork, you will need to provide the art file(s) for your items at this stage.
    • Please note ALL artwork must be provided in VECTOR FORMAT (typically *.ai, *.eps, and/or vectorized *.pdf)

Most clients complete this step within a day or two, but sometimes it can take longer for various reasons, such as if an internal design team needs a few days to mull over the options and create the artwork. Likewise, if you are hiring S.MICHAEL Creative Branding to create your artwork then you should plan for additional time on this step TBD / as discussed.

Step 5: Place Your Order (Submit Payment + Review/Approve Art Mockups)

Responsibility: Client/SMCB
Time this step normally takes: Same day

Once Step 4 has been completed and everyone is ready to move forward, Steve will type up your invoice and create art mockups for each item in the order. Once you approve the art mockups and submit payment for the invoice, your order is officially placed.

Steve can typically provide the invoice and mockups the same day, but it can sometimes take a day or two if the order contains many items.

Step 6: SMCB Submits Order to Supplier(s)

Responsibility: SMCB
Time this step normally takes: 1-3 days

Once your order has officially been placed, S.MICHAEL Creative Branding must submit POs (purchase orders) for each item on your order. In many cases, each item from any given order will be coming from a different supplier – meaning there are multiple POs to type up, double check for accuracy, and send off to each supplier.

From there, S.MICHAEL Creative Branding must also confirm each PO was received successfully, submit payment, and approve each supplier’s mockup for production.

For smaller orders with one or just a few items, all of the aforementioned steps are typically completed the same day or the following one. For larger orders and with certain suppliers, however, it can take a few business days to confirm each individual PO and send all items to production. Additionally, during peak season and around the winter holidays, this can sometimes take a bit longer if any given supplier is slammed with orders at the time.

Step 7: Production & Decoration of Item(s)

Responsibility: Supplier
Time this step normally takes: 1-3 weeks

Once an item moves into production, there isn’t much to do other than wait for the lead time to run and for your items to be shipped. During this time, Steve will be checking in with his supplier(s) every few days to ensure all items/orders are on track.

As noted on the Timeline & Planning page, lead times can vary greatly depending on the item and supplier. Most items have production times around 1-3 weeks, with the overall average being somewhere in the range of 7-12 business days. However, there are many items that can be produced faster (within 24 hours, even) and others that require significantly longer (4+ weeks) for production alone.

What this means is that for any given order, your timeline may differ depending on the items you are ordering. If you have a strict deadline, you should plan sufficiently far in advance to ensure on-time delivery.

Step 8: Shipment & Delivery

Responsibility: Logistics Company (i.e. UPS, FedEx, DHL, etc.)
Time this step normally takes: 1-5 business days

For any given order, ground shipping is the default method of transport. However, you can usually upgrade your shipping method to 3-day, 2-day, or even Overnight if you would like. Please be sure to discuss shipping options up front, as shipping cost will be factored into your invoice prior to placing any given order.

The vast majority of orders are delivered successfully and without issue – historically, S.MICHAEL Creative Branding is proud to say that over 99% of all orders processed are produced, shipped, and delivered to an extremely happy client! That being said, we know sometimes things happen – so it’s important to discuss what that looks like, too. If you have any concerns regarding a completed order, please review our Merchandise Order Terms & Conditions and contact S.MICHAEL Creative Branding immediately to discuss. Thanks and we look forward to doing business with you for many years to come!

Ready to discover what's possible for you?

Get in touch w/Steve to start planning your next order: