Cover Story: How Fast Is Your Fulfillment?
“The goal is to present a fully executable order within seconds of receiving to always ship fulfillment within the same day of the request,” says Paul Demirdjian, president and CEO of Tampa, Fla.-based Jagged Peak, a provider of e-commerce and supply chain software and services.
2. What is the minimum number of inventory alerts needed?
While inventory management involves a good deal of automation, the computer can’t make the decisions without the marketer’s guidance. Because human brains can juggle only so many priorities at a time, multiple inventory alerts work best to provide marketers with enough notice to either reorder or make small alterations to an item or supply an entirely new piece.
Lowndes recommends one alert to communicate when inventory levels hit established trigger points, one alert to signal a switch to print-on-demand production and another alert to signal the move back to the preferred production method. The threshold minimums should be set to identify quantities that will last longer than it takes to get the items printed (or copied, in the case of CDs and DVDs) without incurring rush charges.
This level of explicit communication not only allows marketers to get ahead of opportunities to fine-tune or test kit elements, but also to adjust program costs for tighter budget tracking.
3. Which is the more cost-effective kitting approach?
b) Build to order
While build to stock—meaning kits are preassembled in anticipation of demand according to volume forecasts—has been the standard practice for decades, the increasing adoption of digital printing to customize fulfillment materials and reduce waste of obsolete materials has precipitated a shift to a build-to-order environment,
“Cost comparisons show that build to stock is more expensive over the long term,” he states, due to the time and expense of dekitting to remove unwanted elements and then rekitting as appropriate. But, he adds, marketers don’t need to view kitting as an either/or scenario; build to stock is useful in about 10 percent of programs.