It’s All Greek to Me: Promotional Products Parlance

Shana Gardner, Operations

Every industry has its own version of “techspeak”, and the promotional products industry is no different.  Some terms are used frequently but may be unfamiliar to newcomers to the industry, while others are open to interpretation based upon context.  I’ve broken down some of the most common confusing terms below to help open the flow of communication between suppliers and distributors.


EQP stands for End Quantity Pricing (also referred to as End Column Pricing), meaning that the distributor receives the last column of published pricing regardless of the quantity they order.  It is often extended to distributors by suppliers based upon factors such as sales, promotions, or industry memberships.

Drop Shipping

Drop shipping is defined as “the shipment of goods made directly from the manufacturer to the retailer or consumer but billed through the wholesaler or distributor”.  In other words, it’s shipment from a supplier to the end user or recipients on behalf of the distributor.  Some companies utilize it only when shipping to individual recipients, while others use it for any shipment with a destination other than the distributor’s location.  There are often additional fees that apply for drop shipping, so be sure to check with your supplier for their policy.

Flat-Rate Shipping

Flat-rate shipping is shipping with a set charge that applies to all locations.  For example, a flat-rate shipping charge of $10 would be applied to a shipment whether it’s shipping to Maine or Oregon.  Generally, additional drop ship or handling charges do not apply, but again be sure to check with your supplier for their policy.

Dimensional Weight

UPS and FedEx utilize a formula to determine the weight of a package based on its box dimensions.  For example, if a box measuring 18” x 12” x 6” and weighing 3 lbs. is shipped via UPS or FedEx, they will bill based upon a weight of 10 lbs. due to the box dimensions.  This is referred to as dimensional weight or dim weight.  (Note that UPS and FedEx will use the greater weight between the physical weight and dimensional weight; a 12 lb. package in the same box will be billed based upon the weight of 12 lbs.)

Spec Sample

“Spec Sample” is shorthand for Speculative Sample.  It refers to a sample sent to a customer with their logo or imprint on it, just as the final gifts would be sent.  They’re often used to demonstrate to a leery client or a client on the fence the quality of the gift they’d be sending, or to demonstrate to a repeat client the differences between prospective gifts, though other uses for them are plentiful.  They may be offered at EQP or discounted, so be sure to check with your supplier to see if they have any deals on them.

Random Sample

Random samples don’t refer to a sample of a random item, but rather a sample with a random imprint.  Suppliers will provide a sample with a random selection from their best imprints to demonstrate how a client’s gifts could look, rather than how they will.  They’re often used when a distributor would like to get a sample of the gift in front of the client for them to experience first-hand, especially when there’s a tight deadline that doesn’t allow time for a spec sample.  They’re also often available at a discounted rate.

Virtual Sample

Virtual samples are graphical representations of how a client’s logo or imprint will appear on a gift provided by the supplier by overlaying the provided imprint onto a product image.  Generally available at no charge, they’re the fastest way to get a sample in front of a client as there’s neither production nor shipping time.  They’re perfect for whetting a client’s interest before sending a physical sample.


Full-color refers to imprints created by digital printing with the CMYK color range; an imprint can be full-color while still showing only one color, as that color will be a composite of cyan, magenta, yellow, and black.  It can also be used to recreate photographs or graphic designs in detail.

Raster Art

Raster art is created with colored pixels arranged into patterns to create an image.  While it is great for full-color imprints, it is not usable for one-color imprints relying on a die or cliché as the edges of the logo or imprint are not precise.  Raster art intended for an imprint method like foil-stamping or firebranding must be recreated as vector art to ensure a clean imprint.

Vector Art

Vector art is art created with vectors, or mathematical equations and geometric primitives to create art that can be scaled infinitely without any loss of quality or fidelity.  In other words, vector art is defined by points, lines, and shapes, not pixels.  It requires a specialized program like Adobe Illustrator to create and modify.  Although it’s possible to insert raster art into a vector art file, it does not convert it to vector and the art remains unusable for the creation of imprint media.  Creating a logo or imprint as vector art ensures that it’s ready for reproduction.  (Don’t forget to convert text to outlines!)

The promotional products industry is full of specialized terminology; this is only a small selection.  If there are ever any terms you don’t understand, don’t hesitate to reach out to peers and suppliers—we’re here to help make sure you have all the tools you need for selling success!