Order Fulfillment

Case Study: Massage Warehouse Cuts Delivery Costs
July 1, 2004

Problem: Massage Warehouse was receiving delivery fines from shipping companies and returned packages due to incorrect customer address data. Solution: The company implemented QAS’ software to validate addresses using U.S. Postal Service (USPS) data. Results: Delivery surcharges dropped by 63 percent, staff productivity significantly increased, and customer satisfaction grew due to faster delivery times. When both delivery surcharges imposed by shipping companies and the number of returned packages began to rise due to incorrect address formats, Massage Warehouse realized it needed to adjust its customer address data management. For example, the difference between “Strt.” and “St.” as an abbreviation for “Street” was costing the

Stow It for Less
July 1, 2004

Absolute productivity has declined in many companies in recent years. Indeed, in conducting our benchmarking surveys (which we’ve done since 1996), we’ve discovered that many metrics, such as orders processed per full-time warehouse worker, have remained flat, while dollars of sales processed per warehouse square foot have declined. In turn, labor rates have increased from an average of $5.50 to $10.50 per direct labor hour.* To help you boost productivity at your catalog, I’ll focus on the warehouse audit process and the application of a few key warehouse success factors. An Operations Audit When trying to reduce costs and boost customer satisfaction

Wrap It Up
April 1, 2004

Although a catalog’s reputation often is based on its look and merchandise assortment, it can’t perform well without essential, behind-the-scenes assistance from the operations and fulfillment departments. Finding a product packaging solution that’s dependable and cost-effective — as well as one that fits your merchandise — is an ongoing challenge. The following products are headliners with positive reviews from several catalogers. As you embark on a search for new packaging solutions, keep these in mind. Product Inflation The Fill-Air Inflatable Packaging System, manufactured by Saddle Brook, NJ-based Sealed Air Corp., produces air-filled cushions for void-fill applications. In addition to protecting fragile merchandise, it also

Roundup: Catalog Fulfillment and Operations
April 1, 2004

Inside you’ll find: cost-cutting strategies for your fulfillment operations; how to protect your inventory from internal theft; how to assess your catalog systems options; and how to determine your optimal IT spend. Get Lean Successful cost-cutting strategies for your catalog fulfillment operations. By William J. Spaide Lackluster operating performance in your catalog’s fulfillment operations can result from a combination of factors: poor productivity, inefficient processes, and unanticipated marketing and merchandise results. Failure to identify early warning signs of trouble and, more importantly, not addressing these problems decisively and effectively, are common characteristics of the operational “also-rans.” It all comes down to a

How to Develop a Reverse Logistics Strategy
December 1, 2003

Multichannel industry leaders such as Cabela’s, Talbots, Eddie Bauer, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Lands’ End and L.L. Bean have established themselves as the standard-setters for returns processing, allowing customers the flexibility of returning goods with a no-quibble guarantee. But there’s a downside to a liberal returns policy: Companies have seen return rates increase every year for the past 10 years. For example, $5 of every $100 worth of goods purchased on the Web are returned, compared to $6 for traditional retailers, according to The Boston Consulting Group and Shop.org. And for many merchandise categories, returns rates are much higher. Moreover, the study found

Rethink Your S&H Rate Schedules
September 1, 2003

If you set your catalog’s shipping and handling (S&H) charges based on competitors’ rates, industry standards or consumer acceptance, you may need to update your strategy, say officials of The Direct Marketing Association (DMA). This is especially true for your online orders. Here’s why: Today’s consumers are more knowledgeable about S&H charges, and some even have won class-action lawsuits against companies that they think overcharge. To combat this consumer backlash against high S&H rates, The DMA advises the following when devising fees: • Make them reasonable. “You must be able to clarify and justify to consumers that your S&H rates have

Under the Canopy: Organix Style with Soul
September 1, 2003

Under the Canopy’s corporate mission is to offer stylish consumers a way to help eliminate pesticides from their homes, their bodies and the planet. Its corporate history, however, demonstrates that even merchants with timely and unique ideas such as this can get temporarily blindsided by business variables beyond their control. This Boca Raton, FL-based catalog sells high-quality, fashion-forward apparel, bed and bath ware, gifts, footwear and accessories made of organic fiber grown without the use of toxic chemicals. But the company almost didn’t make it out of the start-up phase. A fulfillment fiasco threatened to sideline the business early in its development.

Mac’s Revs Up Catalog Fulfillment
August 1, 2003

Problem: It took Mac’s Antique Auto Parts several weeks to fulfill catalog requests. Solution: Implemented QuikPak’s catalog-fulfillment service. Result: Prospects now get catalogs within seven days of their requests. Multi-title niche cataloger Mac’s Antique Auto Parts, a supplier of replacement parts for vintage and classic Ford vehicles, couldn’t seem to deliver catalogs to requesters in less than four weeks. That was before January 2001 when it implemented a new catalog-fulfillment service. Back then, Mac’s mailed its 12 catalog titles using bulk rates through a service located near its Lockport, NY, headquarters. Because each of the catalog titles has a different weight, it took

Key Ratios of a Successful Catalog Company
July 1, 2003

Many metrics are used to run a profitable catalog business. For example, an apparel company may set a goal for its overall return rate of 22 percent, while a gift mailer may strive for less than 6 percent. But one thing is universal among catalogers: The ideal metrics or ratios are those that lead to profitable income statements. After all, if you manage by the ratios, the dollars will take care of themselves. Remember, dollars go into the bank, not percentages. Key metrics to calculate and watch include service levels (e.g., how long customers wait in your contact center’s queue), response levels (e.g.,

Trade Secrets to Help Boost Your Bottom Line
May 1, 2003

With world conditions and the economy in upheaval, business has been tough for most catalogers lately. This month I’ll focus on several ideas to improve your bottom line. Although it’s always important to stay focused on long-term growth and strategic development of your business, some of you obviously will have to take action now to ensure short-term profitability. The following suggestions may produce only a temporary increase in your profitability, however, so be cautious about any potential impact down the road. Cut Cautiously 1. Improve your margins. The No. 1 expense line on your profit-and-loss statement (P&L) most likely is cost of goods.