Literature Fulfillment in a Flash
Print-on-demand technology makes sense for companies that want to customize the fulfillment kit beyond simple personalization, says Blumenfield.
The cost of color digital printing is coming closer to that of offset printing, Lowndes states, making it a more accessible production method. It's important to test highly personalized kits versus those with static information, he explains, pointing out that increased response rates and the lack of inventory costs can make print-on-demand more cost effective than offset printing.
Regardless of which production method you select, you want your kit to arrive in good condition. Blumenfield advises marketers to test their fulfillment materials' durability in the mail stream by shipping a kit to a seed address. You might find that a padded bag, for example, is not the best carrier for a videocassette, letter and brochure.
Side note: Storage charges for one pallet of materials is only about $9 to $10 per month, Blumenfield estimates. While you can store many more DVDs and CDs per pallet, storage costs are low enough that it's smart to offer prospects the option to request videocassettes as well. You never know which medium people might prefer, he says, so consider protecting your response rate by providing a full selection.
On Top of Your Inventory
Inventory management requires vigilance to ensure that adequate, up-to-date materials are on hand to fulfill kit requests at all times.
Fulfillment companies are helping marketers control their fulfillment program via automated tools provided through a password-controlled extranet and/or e-mail.
The marketer can set program parameters that trigger e-mail alerts, say, when the inventory on a particular kit component falls below a specific level, Blumenfield explains. In addition, the marketer can access its inventory counts at any time via an online portal, and reset its notification parameters.
Automated inventory management tools also can provide alerts for when material shipments are in transit and when they reach the fulfillment firm, says Lowndes, providing marketers with a complete picture of their fulfillment program status.