Best Practices in Fulfillment and Distribution
James Clark, senior vice president of distribution, Penguin Group (USA), New York
Penguin Group (USA) is the U.S. affiliate of the international Penguin Group (www.penguin.com), the second-largest English-language trade book publisher worldwide. Penguin Group (USA) is one of the leading U.S. adult and children’s trade book publishers, owning a wide range of imprints and trademarks, including Berkley Books, Dutton, G.P. Putnam’s Sons, New American Library, Penguin Books, The Penguin Press, and Viking, among others. The Penguin Group is part of Pearson plc.
Penguin Group (USA) handles fulfillment and distribution for a number of other publishers, including Reader’s Digest, The Overlook Press, Library of America, The Monacelli Press and Highbridge Audio.
What kind of system do you currently use for warehouse fulfillment and returns?
James Clark: Penguin Group PGI ships adult hardcover and juvenile titles from Kirkwood, N.Y. Returns … are also handled at this location. Trade paperback and mass market titles ship from Pittston, Pa. DK [Dorling Kindersley, also a Pearson company] titles ship from the Lebanon, Ind. warehouse operated by [sister company] Pearson Education.
What challenges do you encounter in fulfillment?
Clark: One major challenge is the conflict between customer just-in-time strategies, which drives smaller, more frequent orders, and our interest in an efficient shipment.
This has become even more vital recently with fuel surcharges since we pay freight on most orders.
What best practices help you overcome those challenges?
Clark: We have worked with our customers to develop a new wholesale shipping policy. Purchase orders combine for shipping and invoicing, and we ship to wholesalers twice a week.
In addition, we have an amazing and innovative warehouse team that is constantly looking for faster and cheaper ways to do things.
BB: How do you handle returns?
Clark: We try to handle the books as little as possible. A returns processor initiates the credit memo and inducts the books into a sorter. The sorter feeds a carousel, which accumulates full cases of those titles we need to restock. Remaindered titles and books destined for ‘mixed hurt’ [the damaged pile] are channeled via conveyor to a separate build area [for packaging and shipping].