Tapping the Supply Chain Opportunity
How? “The branding should reflect and embody a value proposition. Value here is not a financial figure, such as sales, profits or assets. Value, for the value proposition, should be something that matters to customers,” he noted. “It should be tangible and should define the benefit and solution that customers will gain with you. It presents why customers should do business with you, rather than with competitors.”
Paying attention to service details is a big part of the customer service job that reinforces branding. The Barnes & Noble brand relies heavily on timely availability of titles ordered by customers. Joe Gonella, vice president for inventory management and vendor relations, laid out five conceptual approaches to the distribution process, any one of which can be chosen to maximize customer satisfaction and resource allocation in getting books to one of the company’s stores. They include:
• bindery drop ship,
• publisher drop ship,
• flow through distribution (books are not stocked into the warehouse; shown on page 34),
• warehouse distribution (same diagram as flow through except books are unpacked and stored), and
• print-on-demand, which can go direct to the store or to the customer’s home.
A flow chart comes alive
The supply chain concept provides infinite opportunities for business and workflow analysis on broadly strategic as well as highly granular levels. It can take place on the back of an envelope while relaxing in flight or as the keystone of a company-wide planning process. It works for large and small companies, and even in job positioning, as a tool for helping set goals, priorities, and allocations of time, resources and effort.
It is the old-fashioned flow chart brought alive and buttressed by standards, best practices, experience and know-how, and by the collaborative involvement of everyone in the chain—by monitoring performance and outcomes, and paying attention to customers and the marketplace.
Eugene G. Schwartz is editor at large for ForeWord Reviews, an industry observer and an occasional columnist for Book Business magazine. In an earlier career, he was in the printing business and held production management positions at Random House, Prentice-Hall/Goodyear and CRM Books/Psychology Today. A former PMA (IBPA) board member, he has headed his own publishing consultancy, Consortium House. He is also Co-Founder of Worthy Shorts Inc., a development stage online private press and publication service for professionals as well as an online back office publication service for publishers and associations. He is on the Publishing Business Conference and Expo Advisory Board.