Solutions Showcase: Fulfilling Your Core Competencies
With the U.S. economy on shaky ground, book publishers, like so many others, are honing in on ways to cut costs while growing their businesses. This often means tapping the resources of thirdparty partners to manage the aspects of the publishing business that fall outside the publisher’s core competencies (creating and marketing great content)—things like physically managing inventory and fulfilling orders from retail partners and consumers. For fulfillment help, publishers may turn to their book printers, which often have warehousing and fulfillment operations to complement their manufacturing services, or to a third-party fulfillment specialist.
Location, Location, Location
Direct-mailers will tell you that minimizing mail costs has a lot to do with location, and the same can be said for book distribution. Having to truck shipments long distances to get them into the USPS or other shipping stream can be rather expensive—particularly with gas prices now hovering around the $3 to $4/gallon mark. Finding a fulfillment specialist that can `minimize these transportation costs is a priority for many publishers.
Maple-Vail Distribution Services, part of the Maple-Vail Book Manufacturing Group, for example, has three distribution centers in Pennsylvania, strategically located near major trucking routes and USPS bulk mail centers. Publishers do not have to be manufacturing customers of Maple- Vail Book Manufacturing in order to take advantage of the Distribution Services, although, notes Bill Long, the company’s vice president of sales and marketing, “having us handle both has significant cost advantages.”
Outsourcing, But Retaining Control
More than just bricks and mortar, a warehouse is only as effective as its fulfillment staff and the systems they employ for managing operations and communicating with customers.
“As a company, we are consistently hearing from the publishing community their desire to outsource the non-core supply-chain activities—like product sourcing, warehousing and fulfillment services— with the caveat that they can still have intimate knowledge and visibility of their inventory and shipments,” explains Jeremy Doak, director of marketing, New Territories in North Kingstown, R.I.
- Aero Fulfillment Services
- Berkshire Information Systems Inc.
- BookMasters Inc.
- Books Intl. Inc.
- Fairrington Transportation Corp.
- Fulfillment America Inc.
- Johns Hopkins University Press
- Karol Media
- New Territories Inc.
- The Associated Press
- The Maple-Vail Book Manufacturing Group
- Ware-Pak Inc.
- World Book