Best Practices in Fulfillment and Distribution
In addition, publishers who outsource their distribution can focus on their core business of publishing rather than managing and investing in a distribution operation.
Jack Herr, president, BookStream
BookStream (www.Bookstream.com) is a new wholesale distribution company with a 1,000-square-foot warehouse in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. It sells at consistent 42-percent discount to all booksellers regardless of size, scale or ownership, and accepts orders through R.R. Bowker’s PubEasy online ordering service.
What challenges do you encounter in the fulfillment business?
Herr: Balancing transactional time is our foremost challenge. There is always some downtime between people packing boxes and waiting for work. So we need to figure out how much time it takes to do specific tasks and how to set it up so that there aren’t too many people waiting to do their tasks.
This leads to our second largest challenge, which is the attempt to get all flows in the warehouse through a formal system and to minimize procedures outside our system.
For instance, if we receive a product to scan and notice it is damaged, then what? The undesirable thing to do is to set it aside and deal with it manually when sending [returns] back to the publisher. A good way is to get the system to handle exceptions automatically ….
What best practices help you overcome those challenges?
Herr: I have a long history of logistics for management systems in this business. So, I, along with the help of an independent consultant, designed a warehouse intellectually. By this I mean we designed procedures to make the warehouse work run smoothly, and we purchased the best software we believe exists in the industry … called IPub. We were able to tweak the system to make it compatible with our work and warehouse design. …