I Can See for Miles
Jones adds, “It took a long time to get things going [prior to this] ... There were no automated systems, and we had to send a fax each day ... They [the distributor] would process the orders. Whereas Ware-Pak is sending stuff out the same day.”
Returns … Simplified
Another big drain on time is handling returns. The idea behind IRMS is to streamline returns-handling to enable publishers to get their books back into active inventory faster.
Returns from bookstores are in a state of “disarray … and [require] quite a bit of processing,” says Carl Brewer, president of the 10-year-old Integrated Warehousing Solutions (WWW.IRMSWMS.COM) that created IRMS. “So what we’re doing with Ware-Pak, is that as [a book] … is being received or recognized in the returns process, at an ISBN by ISBN level, we’re recording it and tying quality assurance to that process, so that a publisher has the ability to know within a two-second time frame: This is what I got back, this is what its condition is, and their ability to resell it,” he explains.
“… Whereas, in the past, that may have taken anywhere from two days to a week [to sort out returns and record the data], now we’re doing it in two seconds to five minutes.”
Jones says, “Since it processes returns a lot quicker, we’re able to access that stock and send it back out.”
“Eighty-five percent of returns are processed [including receiving, assessing the condition, remarking and reshelving] the same day, which … really helps us because then we have the product back on the shelves so that we can complete the orders,” says Shay.
Also important, notes Brewer, is publishers’ ability to see distributed books that are not yet sold. “A lot of bookstores will take inventory on a consignee basis,” he says. “In the meantime, that inventory sitting on the shelf [at the bookstore] may still belong to the publisher. So the publisher needs to know what they have, where it is, and their ability to act upon it. That’s probably one of the strongest values of that IRMS is providing in this model.”