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Fulfillment: A New Service Frontier

(September 2007) posted on Mon Sep 24, 2007

These days, remaining competitive in the graphics market takes more than being fast and cheap. Fulfillment offers a new way to not only stay ahead, but also to stand out among the crowd.

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By Ben P. Rosenfield

It’s the F-word your customers love to hear when they bring their graphics jobs to your shop. Members of your sales team may use it a lot to attract new business and take care of current accounts. And if you’re lucky, it’s a word that everyone on your staff uses liberally in each area of production. We’re talking about fulfillment, an area of service that has come to mean much more than simply making sure that clients get what they’ve ordered.

Competition in graphics printing today is such that producers must look beyond pricing and turnaround time and focus on what happens to a finished print run once it leaves the pressroom. Fulfill¬ment is a way you can set yourself apart from the companies that trade solely on same-day service or a few cents less per print. However, fulfillment can be a gray area, so it’s important that you determine precisely what it means—and what it means for your business.

What is fulfillment?
For some, fulfillment is organizing and packing graphics and shipping them to the client on time as soon as the job is done or on an as-needed basis. Those who routinely handle complex jobs, such as customized, multistore campaigns, may offer fulfillment by warehousing raw substrates and finished products, managing inventory, picking and packing, kitting, drop shipping, tracking, and installing. Engineering and project management also may be a part of a graphics producer’s fulfillment arsenal. But regardless of what’s on the menu of services, most printers would agree that fulfillment is doing whatever it takes to satisfy the customer.

“The way we define it is making sure we package signs and get signs where they need to be for the customer. It’s that simple. We also inventory signs for some customers, and we do have a full installation department,” says Tim Leary, president of Fresno, CA-based Pro-Screen, Inc. “Once a sign is produced, we do what the customer wants us to do with it—ship it, or install it, or just put it into inventory. That’s fulfilling their needs, and that’s what the word is all about.”


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