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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

Fulfillment technology
Many options await those who would like to use technology to establish or boost their fulfillment programs. Some companies need only use e-mail to keep track of orders, stock, and more. Others require high-level software platforms to tie everything together. Branching out onto the Net is yet another option—one that can allow customers who wish to be involved more intimately with fulfillment to take a more active role in managing their orders.

Pratt uses solutions on the intake side that help with site surveys and gathering, recording, and cataloging information. The company uses an enterprise-resource-planning system (ERP) on the operations side. The essential role of an ERP is to integrate a company’s departmental functions onto one system that can accommodate the needs of each department. Pratt plans to update its ERP to reflect the changes in its business pro- cesses, as well as clients’ needs.

“We have a core ERP system that has been effective for us.... We started with a great system—a good system by today’s standards—and have a very prolific and effective IT staff that has modified and essentially souped up the system we started with to change with us,” Gelsomino says. “We’re now ready to move to the 2008 model. Big changes are coming.”

F.B. Johnston Graphics uses POPS (Point-of-Purchase Software), a custom program written in house, to catalog and manage all information about a client’s chain of stores. Henry explains that each store is set up with a profile. The software can capture as much data as necessary, and all of the company’s fulfillment services are tied into the software. Stores are grouped by region or market—however the client defines it. “Then we enter in the promotion schedule, the promotion details, and determine where we want the promotion to go,” he explains. “Through a series of filters, we generate packing lists so that our fulfillment people can kit-pack accurately.”

Think Big Solutions, Commerce City, CO, leverages Web-based software to allow for self-service order placement and tracking. According to Gail Mason, Think Big’s process manager, the Web- based system helps the company develop business and keep customers happy. Think Big also relies on technology for customer-care services related to print and trade-show-booth management, logistics, and more.


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