Ernie Schell

By Alicia Orr Suman How do you know when it's time to upgrade your fulfillment software? Of course, looking at the number of orders processed by your distribution center is the first consideration. But it's a more complicated issue than that. Expansion into new markets or new business channels such as the Web also may necessitate a more sophisticated software system. Then there are other factors specific to your business to consider. To determine whether you should pursue a software upgrade, first take a look at your operation's current business processes. As a mailer that recently went through a software upgrade, Daryle Scott, president

Multichannel commerce poses new systems-integration challenges By Ernie Schell It wasn't long ago that most directcommerce companies were catalog businesses, with orders coming in by mail and phone. These orders were entered into a comprehensive catalog management system that handled customers, inventory and orders. Fulfillment was driven by the catalog management application. While this paradigm still applies in some facilities, it's more complicated for most of today's direct-commerce businesses. E-commerce Web sites are the primary source of complication. Kiosks in retail stores are another. A growing number of companies have found that a warehouse management system (WMS) is more effective in handling fulfillment

By Ernie Schell Wisely selecting appropriate back-end technologies can help bolster your multi-channel, direct-commerce operations Thanks in large part to the innovations developed by and for Internet marketers, the pace of change in direct commerce has been dizzying in the past few years. Now that Web sites are de rigueur, most successful merchants have become "multi-channel" marketers—whether they like it or not. While some Web merchants invest in multi-million-dollar advertising and marketing campaigns to attract traffic to their sites, others have created successful e-commerce sites that rack up sales without much, if any, money spent on promotion. For example, when a well-known catalog

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