Best Practices in Fulfillment and Distribution
What challenges do you encounter in fulfillment?
Kain: One … is deciding when to stop sending books to bookstores when we have a new edition coming out. We want to time it just right so the stores run out of our older edition before receiving our new ones.
What best practices help you overcome those challenges?
Kain: … We stop shipping older-version books about four months before the release of our new editions, but we still have four months’ worth of books in our online account. If we do it right, the bookstores will run out of the old edition about two months before our new release. Our goal is to limit as many overstock returns as possible.
How do you handle returns?
Kain: Again, being a very small publisher, we’ve found our own strategic way to deal with returns. One part of that strategy is to avoid having too many returns to begin with.
What advice would you offer others on the best practices of warehouse fulfillment and returns?
Kain: I learned something recently that small publishers can benefit from, and that is to approach a wholesaler with their own terms.
For instance, instead of agreeing to the order of a certain amount of books at a 55-percent discount, publishers can tell them they can order a different quantity at a 50-percent discount with the condition that there will be no returns and an upfront payment. The wholesaler may not keep that book in stock at the stores, but they will be in the database. This means less sales, but [for publishers who can’t afford otherwise], there is no money lost on those books.
It is an important thing for small publishers to know if they are at that point financially.