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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

Outsourcing fulfillment is an attractive option for shops that lack the space, time, or manpower to handle the work. But those who discover that they can accommodate the demands a fulfillment program can place on their business and its assets may find that having total ownership of the entire operation is critical to quality and productivity. For example, Pratt used an outsource partner in order to assess the value and feasibility of fulfillment before making the commitment in house.

“It was an opportunity for us to test the waters. Then we felt, with a couple of specific clients, that it made sense for us to have full control over it,” Gelsomino explains. “I think it would be like that with any of our new services. We would do a test, a very controlled situation, and see if there’s a future and decide if it’s appropriate for us to get deeper into it.”

How should you view fulfillment?
Is fulfillment something to keep under wraps and grudgingly accept when absolutely necessary? Or is it an aspect of your business worth promoting and mining for profits? Fulfillment can be enticing bait for new opportunities and an effective way to keep valuable purchasers from checking out the shop up the road that’s playing a pricing game. It can also be something that you use to further support those clients who have increased the amount of business they do with your company.

“Fulfillment is on our Web page. We do promote it as one of our products. I know that it’s a good thing,” Leary says. “We talk about the quality of our work first, we talk about our service, and then fulfillment is the next natural step—especially with the bigger customers.”

Leary explains that Pro-Screen has developed a personality for its fulfillment department. Members of the installation and shipping teams communicate directly with buyers, a process he says demonstrates that the company is multifaceted and has more than just a salesperson in the building working for the customers. Another benefit Leary sees in promoting fulfillment is that it makes Pro-Screen look better than its competitors.

“It gives my product a higher perceived value, which in a lot of cases means I don’t have to get into a bidding war over a small sign program—or even a big one. We have services that many people don’t offer,” he says.


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