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Posts Tagged ‘Fulfillment’

Pick, Pack and Ship Services Help Publishers Reduce Fulfillment Costs

Due to the nature of the publishing industry, publishers have multiple layers of costs associated with fulfillment (the process of picking, packing and shipping books). In its simplest form, fulfillment is the act of getting books out the warehouse door and delivered to customers in a fast, efficient and economical manner. Any additional costs incurred in fulfillment means a reduced bottom line profit for the publishing house.

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When Selecting an Order Fulfillment Warehouse, Location Matters!

When deciding which order fulfillment warehouse is the best fit, choosing a partner in the wrong location may mean an additional 4% in costs to you. Here’s how….

As the saying goes, it’s location, location, location that really counts. Your order fulfillment facility should be located near the hub (or center) of your client base. If you are selling primarily on the West Coast, then the facility you partner with should also be on the West Coast. And if you’re a regional publisher with customers in the Southeast, then you want to locate a facility in the Southeast. When you are national in scope, then finding a fulfillment partner located in the Midwest should be your focus.

Choosing the right location gives you three (3) major advantages:

  1. Saving money on transportation costs
  2. Increasing customer satisfaction with fast product delivery
  3. Reducing your carbon foot print

1. Saving Money On Transportation Costs

Have you noticed the higher prices at the gas pump lately? A gallon of regular is almost $5.00 per in Chicago it’s predicted to reach $6.00 before the end of summer! Every time I fill up, I can feel the pinch from the higher gas prices. If your order fulfillment facility is not in the right location, you are paying for extra fuel to have your merchandise delivered. These extra costs are being passed along to you by the carriers in the form of increased based rates and increased fuel surcharges.

The average publisher spends as much on transportation as they do on their warehousing services. If your business has a national reach and you are working with an order fulfillment facility that is located anywhere but the Midwest, you are paying almost 4% more for their services because of the transportation penalty. It costs between 5% and 7% more to ship to the U.S. population from the East Coast or West Coast than it does from the Midwest. And this will only increase as fuel prices continue to rise.

2. Less Transit Time Means Happier Customers

Another major benefit in choosing a fulfillment facility in the right location for your customer base is the amount of transit time merchandise to arrive at the customer. Today’s consumers want instant gratification. The days of people placing orders and waiting weeks for the product to arrive are over. Customers know what they want and they want it yesterday.

From a Midwest location, you can reach 58% of the U.S. population in 2 days and 99% within 4 days. However, when shipping from Los Angles you can only reach 21% of the U.S. population in 2 days and only 47% within 4 days. From the East Coast product will reach 48% of the U.S. population within 2 days and 81% in 4 days. A Midwest location provides the least amount of transit time and therefore, will increase your customers overall satisfaction.

3.    Reducing Carbon Footprint

Partnering with an order fulfillment warehouse that is centrally located means a reduced carbon footprint for your company. Shipping from a warehouse that is centrally located to your customers means a reduction in the miles that products will travel to reach them, and this reduces green house gases emitted. From another perspective, higher shipping costs and longer transit times are symptoms that you are burning more fossil fuels in delivering your product.

Selecting a fulfillment warehouse to partner with in the right location will make you more efficient and you will reap the benefits of saving money, increasing customer satisfaction, and reducing green house gases.

The Retail Trade Market & Its Impact on Publishers

The majority of book publishers have sold their product in the same way to the same marketplace since the 1800’s. In that marketplace, the bulk of sales occurred in the independent and chain bookstores. Over the last 50 years, the landscape has changed dramatically. New marketplaces have emerged, offering more opportunities for the publisher to increase sales and profits.

These new Retail Trade Markets are dominated by Mass Merchandisers, such as Wal-Mart, Costco, Kmart, Sears, TJ Maxx, Target, and more. It is this group and their unique requirements that I would like to discuss today.

When it comes to order fulfillment, the retail trade market has a very unique set of requirements. Each client may have slightly different requirements from each merchandiser – so as a part of Ware-Pak’s fulfillment services process, we maintain a 3-ring binder containing all of the specific requirements for each client and their respective mass merchandisers.

The mass merchandisers will grade each vendor on how well they follow the fulfillment requirements. Depending upon these results, the publisher will move up or down in a desirability scale with the merchandiser. The grade given by the merchandiser is very important because as the publisher moves up the scale, the more opportunities they will have to place new titles in the retail store. In addition to impacting future business, many of the mass merchandisers have implemented a system to fine the vendor for each infraction. These fines can cost thousands of dollars on each order.

Below are some of the most common requirements your order fulfillment partner needs to be knowledgeable of:

Special Labeling Requirements
Cartons being shipped into a mass merchandiser require each carton to be labeled with the Item #, Product Code or ISBN, Title and Case Quantity. This information needs to be embedded in a barcode for scanning purposes by the retailer’s distribution center.

ASN labeling requirements
When dealing with the Mass Merchandisers, it is a requirement to send ASN.  Your fulfillment partner must have the capability to create a UCC128 label.

UCC128 labels are pressure sensitive labels that are affixed to each carton and/or pallet and provide information about a particular shipment. This label alerts the mass merchandiser about shipment information – who the vendor is, carton content, store ship to location, etc., – and it is a mix of both readable and scannable information. The UCC128 label on every carton is scanned at its destination and the information usually is tied to an Advance Ship Notice that has already been transmitted via EDI to the trading partner.

UCC128 labels follow a specific guideline set forth by the trading partner, and contain information adhering to the UCC (Uniform Code Council) and EAN (European Article Numbering) standard guidelines. This information helps aid your trading partners to automatically identify you within the global supply chain. By using the UCC128 label, vendors become compliant for trade throughout the world and across industry channels.

The most notable feature of the label is the SSCC-18 (Serial Container Shipping Code) found on every UCC128 label. This 20 digit number, human readable as well as scannable, allows a trading partner to not only identify you as a vendor but also provides information regarding a unique sequence for each carton.

Anti-Theft Security Strip
Some retail vendors require that there be an anti-theft security strip on the product before shipping it to their stores and distribution centers. There is specific location for the security strip and the order fulfillment center needs to have experience with the application of these strips.

Clip Strips / Counter Displays / Point of Sale Displays
Mass Merchandisers will often require that product be applied to a clip strip or that clip strips be included in the cartons. They will also require that counter displays and point of sale displays be assembled and loaded with the product before shipment to the store or distribution center. Ware-Pak is very proficient at assembling these displays.

It is very common for the retail trade marketplace to order product in specific assortments. These are typically built-to-order projects, which often sound simple but quickly become cumbersome due to the volume of activity. You will want to check that your fulfillment house has a detailed written set of procedures for this process. In addition, each carton has a specific number of titles and should be placed in the cases in a specific order. The assortments may need to be shrink-wrapped or belly-banded together in the cases. Special labeling will be required on each carton that would list the Item #, Title of the Assortment, and the Quantity.

In today’s business environment, marketing is key to achieving increased sales. The best publishers will carry T-Shirts and Giftables that will ship to the retail vendors, either as a free gift or as a salable item. Again, you will be relying upon the order fulfillment center to have the capabilities to price tag, pack, or fold these items in a way that allows them to be shelf ready when unpacked at the retail store.

Tips for Publishers to Increase Sales to the Library Market

As publishers look for ways to increase sales, many are turning to a market that is often overlooked – the library market. For the average publisher, the library market represents about 5% to 10% of their total sales. However, publishers who are not currently selling in this space struggle with how to really penetrate the library market.

LibraryWare-Pak has been providing warehousing and fulfillment services to publishers for nearly 50 years. In that time, we’ve seen many clients sell to the library market successfully. Publishers who have done well selling to this market typically have 5 common tactics in their approach.

The publishers who are most successful in the library market…

  1. Submit their books to the top 5 or more library wholesalers and/or distributors for promotion to the library market.
  2. Locate and submit their books to mail order catalogs that are sent to the public librarians.
  3. Place ads within the publications that are most commonly read by librarians.
  4. Work closely with a co-op book exhibitor to have their product displayed at the major public library shows throughout the country.
  5. Contact and follow up with the top 50 public libraries in the country with information and a sample product.

At Ware-Pak, we believe that in order to be a successful order fulfillment center, it is our responsibility to help our clients continue to sell more books. If you are a publisher in need of additional help breaking into the library market, contact Ware-Pak. We are always happy to help.

Contact Keith Shay, CEO, at 708-534-2600 or by email at kshay@ware-pak.com. Feel free to visit our White Paper Library for additional helpful resources.

Choosing an Order Fulfillment Service – Part 2

Last week, one of my entry’s discussed why location is one of the biggest factors to consider when choosing an order fulfillment service. But location is only one of several items that need to be taken into consideration when you are considering your needs during the fulfillment service selection process.

Today, I’m going to discuss another important factor to consider when considering an order fulfillment service:

Size and Volume

Your goal is to select a service provider that can cater to you and your daily order fulfillment needs. Fulfillment warehouses come in all sizes – ranging from very small with just a few employees, to large Fortune 500 companies with thousands of employees. On one hand you may need to ask yourself if you are the largest client, will you have to drive the organization to provide the services you need? On the other hand, if you are the smallest client, will you get lost in the daily operations?

Talk with your order fulfillment warehouse and ask about peak seasons and holidays. Peak seasons can impact fulfillment centers, and your fulfillment operation needs to be able to manage our peak season needs without any service interruptions. You will also want to know if the warehouse’s other clients peak seasons will have an adverse impact on our business. You will want to ask the following questions: How much additional staff do they hire during the peak season? How are the seasonal people trained? Do their standards for service change during this time?

It is essential that you know when the last time available is for you to send a file and the cut offs for rush orders. You will also want to know the house of operation, whether or not you will be able to contact a customer service representative during your business hours and the requirements for orders to be processed the same day.

Not all fulfillment companies specialize in certain types of projects. Some warehouses only handle full pallets in and out, and some will pick down to full cases level, while others will pick individual units, cases lots and full pallets. You will want to know what types of clients they service, if they include B2B, direct to consumers or large chains.

It is important to know whether or not the facility has the equipment in place to handle complex assembly of kits for multiple products in one single order. One method for increasing the average selling price is to develop a kit. You can have a personalized order processing system, shrink-wrapping and many other benefits. These additional services may also include returns management, confirm receipt, inspection, testing, re-packaging products and the disposition of returns. In terms of order fulfillment, what more could a company ask for?

One additional factor of size is shipping options. Make sure the fulfillment service provider you choose offers the shipping options your customers are currently using or may want in the future. Some of the smaller facilities may only work with one carrier, such as UPS or FedEx. Most facilities will work with all of the different carriers. A good question to ask is whether or not there are certain carriers that the fulfillment house does not work with.

In the coming weeks, I will continue to discuss other important items to consider when choosing an order fulfillment service. But, if you can’t wait to read them here, they are now available in a Whitepaper on our website. If you have additional questions, or are interested in receiving this white paper by email, please feel free to contact me directly. I can be reached at (708) 587-4116 or kshay@ware-pak.com

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