Why Most Printing Companies Need a Fulfilment Consolidator – and How to Find the Right One
Can you imagine producing all of your print work on one press?
We all know that this is a silly idea. There is no one printing press that can produce everything economically. The best solution for a large magazine or catalogues is a web press. If you need a lot of leaflets, a B1 or B2 sheet fed press is the best option. Digital comes into its own for short run and personalised products. We haven’t even mentioned gravure, nanography or letterpress!
When it comes to printing, we need to choose the right solution for the product. But this way of thinking doesn’t just apply to print. It also applies to many other areas, including print distribution.
Good print distribution requires more than one fulfilment channel
Companies that rely on a single route for print distribution will almost certainly be paying more than they need to for their print distribution. However, this isn’t just about price. Companies that rely on a single route for print distribution may well be taking longer to deliver products than they need to. They may also be missing out on the opportunity to create more innovative mailing, and fulfilment services for their customers.
Companies that use multiple distribution and mailing fulfilment services are more likely to create stronger relationships with their customers. Firstly, they will often be providing a more cost-effective and more efficient service; they will also be helping their clients to create better distribution processes that can open up more business opportunities.
The trouble is that it is difficult for the average printing company to have a good understanding of such a complex market. There is a huge number of mailing fulfilment and courier print services and the offerings change on a regular basis. So what is the solution?
Consider using a fulfilment consolidator to create the best print fulfilment solution
A fulfilment consolidator is a distribution specialist. They do not usually carry out all of the mailing or distribution fulfilment themselves. Instead, they outsource to a wide variety of mailing companies, distribution partners and shipping carriers.
Remember that the UK postal market has become very complex these days. There are a variety of downstream access opportunities that compete with Royal Mail. However, you have to understand which products are best suited to different downstream access providers and which ones might be better suited to one of the many Royal Mail services. In addition, there are many companies serving overseas postal markets. Your mix of territories and product can make a big difference to which supplier is most suited to you.
Good fulfilment consolidators will use complex software to determine the best supplier for any situation. They will also combine volume from different clients to ensure that the most economic services can be used.
Finally, a good fulfilment consolidator will also offer a range of warehousing, pick and pack and fulfilment services. This means that that printing companies can concentrate on printing rather than spending time on complex logistical requirements from customers.
Here are four advantages to using this sort of supplier:
A fulfilment consolidator uses multiple distribution partners
A good fulfilment consolidator will have a wide range of suppliers to choose from. However, it is not just about the number of suppliers. They should also have developed special relationships with a number of key partners. These partners will typically offer pricing or service levels that are not available to individual printing companies. They will have developed a close partnership with the fulfilment consolidator to offer very efficient distribution options.
The fulfilment consolidator will also be reviewing their supplier base on a regular basis to make sure that they are always offering the best opportunities for their clients.
Remember, that it is not just about the number of supply partners. It is also about how they are used.
A fulfilment consolidator chooses the most appropriate distribution option for you
Different companies have varying requirements. Some big distribution contracts may require immediate collection and special delivery to further down the supply chain than is normal. A fulfilment consolidator can create the right agreement for you and manage your data so that everything is presented correctly to allow this sort of delivery to happen.
Other distribution requirements may be best served by consolidating your volumes with those of other companies. This can result in big savings. The distribution consolidator will collect your items and make sure that they are processed correctly to allow this to happen.
Sometimes it is not about the distribution channel. It is about managing all the processes before distribution happens.
A fulfilment consolidator offers a one-stop shop
We have already seen how a fulfilment consolidator can offer you access to numerous suppliers with out you having to go through a complex and time-consuming purchasing process. But they should help you logistically as well.
Some supply agreements require some of the following resources:
• Complex sorting, packing and labelling of products. Many printing companies run into problems if their production staff are spending a long time trying to fulfil this sort of work. It can mean that other jobs are delayed. A fulfilment consolidator can manage all this work on your behalf.
• Warehousing and pick and pack. Not all printing companies are set up to offer these options. A fulfilment consolidator can offer you warehousing and manage this service for you.
• Direct mail services. Not everyone can justify the investment in a mailing line for a small number of jobs. In addition, some mailings have complex requirements that cannot be handled by the average mailing line. These requirements can benefit from being outsourced to a fulfilment consolidator.
There is one other clear advantage that a fulfilment consolidator can bring.
A fulfilment consolidator can offer advantageous pricing
A fulfilment consolidator will be handling substantially more volume than you do. Not only will they be able to choose the most competitively priced distribution option for you, but they also have often negotiated advantageous pricing with their key partners.
How do you find the right fulfilment consolidator?
Use the four areas that we have just discussed to create a question list for your requirements. You will soon be able to work out exactly how you could benefit from using a mailing consolidator. Then it is time to create a list of questions from your requirements so you can be sure of picking exactly the right partner for you.
Remember to contact Mailing Workshop
P.S. Use this series of case studies developed by Mail Workshop for ideas on how a fulfilment consolidator can help you.
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