Outsource Fulfillment and Run Your Organization From the Beach

Published by Sara Olbrantz | Topics: Print

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automatic fulfillment orderingRemember Sharon? She’s the Marketing Director at her mid-sized association who spent several hours a week fulfilling inventory and shipping workbooks in-house in order to “save money.” What Sharon didn’t know was  she was actually losing money by utilizing her talented internal staff on shipping instead of using that staff to help improve her association brand. (By the way, Sharon is now outsourcing her inventory and fulfillment and spending her efforts on some killer marketing.)

I would like to introduce you to Sharon’s friend, Rebecca. Rebecca has been a Self-Publisher for about six years. She writes really cool supplemental textbooks for home schooling and resale. These textbooks are available for sale on her online store in case binding and soft cover. The case bound books are printed in large volume by one printer and sent to a warehouse Rebecca leases and manages a team of part-timers who help fulfill the orders.

The soft covers are printed and fulfilled on-demand via a second printer. The on-demand allowed her to have no inventory, but using a second printer and fulfillment source created many challenges for Rebecca…

4 Problems with In-House Fulfillment

  1. Rebecca’s customers receive one order in TWO SHIPMENTS.
    Rebecca ships the case bound textbook from her warehouse, and goes through an outside source that ships the soft cover from their warehouse. How often do you think the customers receive their full order at the same time? Rebecca will tell you, “Not very often,” leading to endless phone calls from confused customers who have only received half of their order. Also, let’s not forget, TWO shipments means TWO shipping fees that can’t both be passed on to the customer.
  2. The cost of in-house fulfillment is EXPENSIVE.
    Rebecca’s in-house expenses increase her overhead. Let’s say Rebecca receives about 25 orders per day. It takes about 15-20 minutes to process each other which means it take one person approx. 8.33 hours (with no break) to fulfill customer orders. Now she needs two people to keep them at part-time levels. Since the employees are answering phones about multiple shipments, they struggle to keep up with incoming orders.  Now she needs to hire a third part-timer. When orders peak, she’ll need to bring in some temporary workers too. Often times, people who fulfill educational publications in-house believe they’re saving money when the cost of in-house can actually be more expensive.
  3. Chasing a cheaper unit price has led to a lot of money tied up in INVENTORY.
    For small associations and small business owners, their cash flow is at the top of their financial concerns. Everyone, including Rebecca, wants a lower unit price to maximize profit. The problem with focusing on unit price is it often times leads to books sitting on the shelves. Rebecca has to chase a lower unit price in order to keep a margin large enough to pay for her overhead (labor, warehouse). Is the chase really worth it if the bulk of case bound books don’t leave the shelves for months?
  4. Rebecca has NO TIME for herself or to grow her business.
    Rebecca is a talented writer, but with all her time tied up in in-house fulfillment and micro-managing her team, she has no time to market her books or write new books! This puts her business at a standstill. On top of that, Rebecca hasn’t taken a vacation in three years!

It was time for Rebecca to make some major changes.

Running a Business “From the Beach”

Rebecca’s goal is to be rid of all these problems and run her business virtually sitting on the beach with her laptop.

Guess where Rebecca is today?

Rebecca is kissing her warehouse goodbye, and found a trusted vendor to take care of the inventory and fulfillment of her supplemental textbooks… leaving her to writing and sun bathing. All the problems associated with fulfilling orders in-house disappear with one simple solution: Outsourcing Fulfillment.

Frequently, businesses are leery of trusting an outside vendor with their publications. It is important to take the time and find a partner who knows and understand the fulfillment process, but the rewards are high… who wouldn’t want to run their business from the beach? …the mountains? …home in sweatpants?

Are you preventing your organization from growing by fulfilling educational publications in-house?

Free Download: Production, Fulfillment and Distribution


About Sara Olbrantz

Sara has worked for Omnipress in the past as our Marketing Communications Coordinator. She has contributed a great amount to make our blog what it is today and has been published in association publications numerous times.

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