*Wientzen: Traditional DMers Have Fulfillment Edge

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ORLANDO, FL -- Internet marketers with traditional direct marketing backgrounds are handling fulfillment more efficiently than Internet upstarts, Direct Marketing Association president/CEO H. Robert Wientzen told a crowd of more than 1,300 attendees at the National Conference on Operations & Fulfillment here yesterday.

DMers were able to top $11 billion in DM sales last year because company veterans understand that customer service and fulfillment are essential to all marketing -- e-marketing included, he said, citing order taking and order management in particular as areas that traditional DMers are turning in better e-fulfillment performances than the newcomers.

"If you can't get the right goods into the right hands and in a timely and affordable fashion, you'll be relegated to the losers' heap sooner or later," Wientzen said. "This is why so many of the new kids on the block -- the e-tailers -- have stumbled."

Among other topics, Wientzen warned that the Internet customers will start demanding increasing speed of service, saying that overnight shipping eventually could become the norm. A fulfillment warehouse being constructed by real-estate firm Trammel, Crow Co., Portland, OR, may become a model for managing the increasing velocity required on the back end, he said. The warehouse "is designed not so much to store goods as much as it is designed to whisk them on a whirring conveyor belt from the online order to the customer's door."

Wientzen's luncheon speech came at the end of three morning sessions that all covered the how-tos of e-fulfillment. DMA spokesman Chet Dalzell said that more than 2,000 attendees were registered for the three-day event, which ends tomorrow, and estimated yesterday's overall attendance to be near that number.

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