“Pick and pack” – one of the core services offered by every literature and order fulfillment company – is the process by which individual items are gathered from inventory, packaged and shipped to their destination to fulfill an order.
No matter what business you’re in, you probably have dozens of product brochures, price lists, point-of-sale display materials, data sheets or other marketing collateral in stock at your fulfillment company’s warehouse. When you need to send any of these items to your sales team, dealers/distributors or prospects, you place an order with your fulfillment company. Their warehouse employees then ‘pick’ the appropriate pieces from stock, in the quantities ordered, ‘pack’ them in an envelope or carton, and see that they get to the right place quickly and efficiently.
It’s pretty basic stuff. Yet it’s critically important to your marketing success. Why? Because being slow to market, or not sending the right materials or quantities, can mean missed sales opportunities. And that means lower revenue for your company.
So how do you make sure you get the best quality pick and pack service? Start by asking for two key statistics.
- What’s your fulfillment partner’s turnaround time? Remember, “time is money.” You want your orders to leave the warehouse pronto. These days, same day order turnaround is pretty much the norm.
- Ask about accuracy. Inaccurate fulfillment and wrong addresses waste time and money. Your orders should be filled correctly and get to the right people and places the first time. Look for an accuracy rate of, or very close to, 100 percent.
You should also explore whether your company offers scalable services. They should be able to ramp up quickly if your business suddenly takes off, as well as handling seasonal or business cycle fluctuations. (After all, you don’t want to pay for something you don’t need.)
Beyond the Stats
In addition to fast, accurate pick and pack fulfillment, it pays to work with a partner who provides online ordering. A web-based portal lets users place orders 24/7 from any internet-connected device. That means orders are fulfilled as received, for faster delivery than batch order systems.
An online fulfillment management system also provides front-to-back integration of all fulfillment functions, so you get real-time data on orders, inventory levels, shipments (with tracking numbers) and deliveries. You’ll know who’s ordering what, and in what quantities, to help you better plan future print production.
Speaking of print, it also pays to work with a fulfillment company that offers digital print services. Your vendor can help you save money on print production by identifying materials that are good candidates for this technology. Examples include seasonal promotional pieces, those with time-limited shelf life, items that require frequent updates and materials that require customization for various audiences or market segments. Digital printing services can also be used to avoid out-of-stock situations. Just set your system to switch to on demand printing (or even electronic delivery) when stock reaches zero.
Bottom line: it pays to choose the right fulfillment partner. When you do, you’ll find ordering and delivering your printed communications easy and worry-free. If you would like to learn more on the future of marketing fulfillment programs in our increasingly digital world then click here to read more.