Communication key for fulfillment companies

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More brick-and-mortar retailers and other traditional advertisers are using DR today in order to help drive retail sales. Many fortune 1000 companies are using DRTV to drive sales and it can be a very effective strategy.

Most companies find an immediate return on investment with instant results in a short amount of time using DRTV. As smaller companies see great results with DRTV, the more established companies introduce products to protect their brand position in the marketplace. Diversified fulfillment companies who work with various industries such as DRTV and entertainment will focus their sales and marketing plans around these clients.

Internet and marketing opportunities have increased on the Web domestically and internationally. International consumer orders have grown. There are unique opportunities available for fulfillment companies who can simplify international distribution, save clients shipping costs and navigate customs effectively. Today's lightning-quick pace of technological change can turn your business into a dinosaur very quickly.

Fulfillment companies must continue to invest in technology as the rate of change will only accelerate in the near future. Data storage area networks (SANS) are critical. Fulfillment companies should implement SANS to ensure there is enough memory capability for their client's data. SANS are growing quickly as fulfillment houses use scanners, wireless technology, radio frequency identification (RFID) and digital cameras more and more.

Paperless technologies are increasingly common in all fulfillment houses to eliminate expensive data entry functions. The cost benefits and speed and ease of storing, retrieving and backing up critical data and documents are significant.

Secondly, marketers need to understand and track how their products are selling in every avenue on a real-time basis 24 hours a day. Given that your fulfillment house collects your data, fulfillment houses need to generate standard and customized reporting immediately. Additionally, order sources must be clearly identified so clients can analyze the return on investment.

One of the key elements to keeping up with your sales is having a useful Web based, real time reporting system in place. With all data right at your fingertips, detailed order, financial and sales forecasting analysis is there for all product campaigns. If you would like to analyze customers by state or geographic region to complete a direct mailer or email blast, the information is right there. Fulfillment companies can provide and analyze data with a consultative proactive approach and help improve the client's profitability.

Smart marketers can take any kind of negative feedback and turn it into an opportunity. If someone is complaining about a product, the customer service representatives should do everything possible to make them a happy, repeat customer. Satisfied continuity customers will continue buying from clients for a long time, which is very profitable. Customer service representatives take a consultative approach with dissatisfied customers and work to understand their requirements and needs and put the right solution in front of them.

Lastly, tight communication is the key to any successful relationship. Time and technology do not change that. It is important to create a team of people around each client's business. Always be proactive and put yourself in the client's shoes. Fulfillment houses need to put closure on all questions or issues with a high sense of urgency so the client can focus on growing their business.

The best way to increase business is to take a consultative approach with clients and work with them to increase their profitability, which leads to more orders. Clients need to focus on price, quality, effective communication, technology and value-added services when selecting a fulfillment house.

Andy Arvidson is owner of Imagine Fulfillment Services, Torrance, CA. Reach him at andya@imaginefulfillment.com.

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