In the early 1880s, it took the Pony Express 10 days to deliver a letter from Missouri to the West Coast. Now information travels around the world in seconds.
In today’s “hurry up” business environment, speed and agility mean everything. When prospects are researching a possible purchase, slow or inaccurate marketing fulfillment can make the difference between closing a sale and losing it. That’s why it’s important to have an online fulfillment management system.
Online ordering can help reduce storage costs and waste, which saves money. (More on that in a moment). But, perhaps an even greater benefit of an online fulfillment management system is the ability to speed production of marketing and sales support materials when efficiency matters most. For example, equipping your sales reps with online ordering capabilities while they’re on their tablets in front of customers will expedite fulfillment at the point of impact.
In an Iron Mountain/InfoTrends research study done earlier this year, the majority of companies surveyed either currently use online ordering or plan to do so within the next two years.
|Industry||% Ordered Online Today||% Expected to be Ordered Online in 2 Years||ProjectedAnnual Growth|
If your company hasn’t adopted this technology yet, it may be time to take a good look at the benefits.
But What About Cost?
The cost of moving to an online fulfillment management system is often perceived as an obstacle. But analysis of internal fulfillment systems often reveals inefficiencies that make not using online ordering more expensive. To explain:
An online system allows you to better track usage and costs by marketing channel, business unit or even individual sales representative. This data can help you quickly spot waste and take steps to reduce it. For example, maybe you have a sales office that always orders way too much literature and stockpiles it until it goes out of date and has to be thrown away. With an online system, you can put limits on the amount of literature that an office or individual can order within a given time period. You can also charge back the costs of that literature to the sales office or individual sales representatives, giving them an incentive not to over-order.
Order data can also help you forecast how much of a given piece you’ll need in the future. This helps you avoid ordering more than your company can reasonably use (which costs money for storage and insurance) or ordering too little (leading to out-of-stock situations and rush charges for backorders).
Beyond Placing the Order
The advantages of better an online fulfillment management system go well beyond ordering, inventory management and billing functions. Many offer web-based tools to customize collateral that has been saved in a digital template, using text and images from your preapproved library of digital images and text. Once customized, the document can be digitally printed and delivered by your fulfillment provider. Numerous studies have shown that customizing communications with personal data and relevant content significantly boosts response rates. Using a fulfillment company with a good print management program will let you cost-effectively personalize marketing materials for better returns.
Other tools that may be available through an online system include:
- Automatic conversion to print-on-demand or electronic distribution when physical inventory is depleted
- Automatic reordering of materials at present inventory levels
- Custom kitting and binding/packaging
- Automated compliance tools
- A customizable dashboard that lets you oversee activities, resources, and budgets at detailed levels within a marketing context with reporting tools that let you filter, mine and sort functionalities across all of your company’s content and usage
Marketing is a process that starts with strategy and creative design, includes production and delivery, then analysis of results and revision for another new cycle. That’s a lot on your plate. Choosing the right fulfillment services partner with advanced online creation, production and ordering capabilities will improve your productivity, speed your time to market, ultimately reduce your costs and boost your return on investment.
Want to find out about other marketing fulfillment tools, check out this article on optimizing marketing fulfillment.