Some things are done best backward! Though typically frowned upon when you begin somewhere near the end, in fulfillment it makes the most sense.
Smart producers and fulfillment-oriented business people always look at end-user expectations during conceptualization stages. When considering the product, ask yourself “What's important?” Delivery time? Branding recognition? Protection? Assembly order? Cost of goods?
Delivery time. People want their goods right away without paying extra to get them. And they are being conditioned to expect it by the direct response industry. The sooner consumers get what they order, the faster the producer gets his money. Moreover, when consumers don't get their orders quickly, they know how to use the toll-free numbers to make non-productive inquiry calls.
These days, even when informational products are given away in premium programs or campaigns, there is an immediate need to know. For example, if a video is part of an automobile promotion, making a recipient wait neither helps the automaker's image nor contributes to a positive buying decision.
Branding recognition. How many unopened envelopes get thrown into your trashcan daily? I suspect I have sent both requested and unsolicited information there many times because the branding was not present. In my book, unrecognized equals unread!
A small, generic shipping container might cost 17 cents each. Consider adding a logo or company name to the outside for an additional 2 or 3 cents. What about logo tape? Every container must have tape to seal it. Shipping tape with your printed logo for pennies more delivers immediate recognition.
Protection. I would not suggest shipping a $300 grant guide in a cheap poster tube. Imagine the customer as the high-dollar guide refuses to lay flat!
Corrugation costs have not significantly increased since the late 1990s. Increasing board weight from the industry standard of 200-pound test (single-wall) to 500-pound test (double-wall) may be easily justified once product and project specifics are known. Inner packing, such as separator pods, keeps corners protected and product in place during shipment.
Assembly order. Suppose you wanted to speak directly to your audience in a very specific order. That order would be identified as A-to-Z communication. At this point, it becomes very important as to the way the informational components are assembled into the shipping container.
This takes forethought, planning and execution at an operational level. Don't forget to seed the list to ensure the fulfillment center is keeping its end of the bargain.
Cost of goods (COG). To get a handle on COG, there are 10 basic questions grouped into five main categories. The solution is to get at all the elements of COG. The five main cost drivers are market size, manufacturing needs, order capture, order processing and fulfillment. In the information industry, duplication is a subset of manufacturing, including raw goods (CD/DVD/VHS/paper), duplication, printing and containment.
To continue the COG discussion, contact me at [email protected] for a COG article listing the 10 questions concerning costs. The answers to these 10 questions don't complete the COG picture. They start it.