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DRMA Spotlight: Looking Outside the Box

1 Mar, 2011 By: Jackie Jones Response

With its real-time analytics and multichannel commerce software, Thill Logistics goes beyond the duties of a fulfillment house for the DR industry.


For Neenah, Wis.-based Thill Logistics Inc., running a successful fulfillment company goes beyond simply putting products in a corrugated box or mailer.

“Anyone can put a widget in a box, place a mailing label on it and send it out,” says R. Todd Thill, president and COO of Thill Logistics. “What makes us different is the multichannel commerce software and real-time analytics by which we run our business model and the power that the systems provide our clients to run their business models. Those systems are what truly make Thill unique.”

Thill Logistics, founded in 1959 by Todd’s grandfather, CJ Thill, began as a regional parts/product manufacturer and distributor. The company, now in its third generation of family ownership, entered the DR industry about 16 years ago — shortly after Todd’s father decided to distance himself from corporate America — when a customer running a successful infomercial asked Thill to process and ship more than 500 orders for a cooking grill in just one weekend.

“It was no coincidence that Todd’s father wanted to get out of corporate America since the dynamic of our company is very entrepreneurial and has a different approach,” says Nicola De La Salle, Thill Logistics’ vice president of strategic sales and marketing and executive vice president of international. “The entrepreneurial spirit is very important to us here at Thill Logistics. We have invested time, effort and spirit into giving ourselves a unique approach within the industry, and we provide marketers with a unique set of tools to enable them to take great campaigns to even greater results.”

Though Thill Logistics is first and foremost a fulfillment house — “It’s what we’re known for and what we’re good at and what opens doors for us,” Thill says — the company offers a wide range of services that go beyond basic fulfillment needs, including customer service and call center support, Web support for clients looking to enter the E-commerce world, real-time analytics and consultation services.

“We offer our clients a single source for backend operations, with robust software platforms and the ability to empower our clients with meaningful data through fully customizable real-time analytics,” Thill says. “That structure and our systems are what truly make Thill unique. It allows entrepreneurs in their homes to run $250 million businesses from their kitchen tables. It also supports billion-dollar corporations that don’t want to deal with the direct-to-consumer model. None of our competitors really offer that.”

Thill says the major issue facing DR marketers today is a lack of meaningful data needed to manage their business.

“No one can successfully run a business without understanding what happens after the order is taken. Even if they’re making money, there’s an opportunity to make more if they have access to accurate information in a real-time environment,” Thill says. “It’s not just looking for the lowest-hanging fruit. It’s looking for where to find the dimes, nickels, the pennies, the fractions of pennies that we can use to optimize campaigns to get the most out of them.”

“Despite the tough economy, media hasn’t gotten any cheaper,” De La Salle adds. “Finding a way to create media efficiency outside of the tough economy — finding those pennies — is definitely important.”

Thill’s real-time analytics capabilities are the best solution for DR marketers looking to stand out in the industry, Thill and De La Salle believe.

“The whole idea is to allow customers access to their information, creating business intelligence that enables them to make smart business decisions and allows them a competitive edge in their particular industry,” Thill says. “A lot of people talk about numbers and statistics on the front end of most D2C sales models. We take it a step further. We provide media data, call center data and data through the fulfillment process, but also show clients what occurred after the sales and fulfillment process is complete.”

Thill Logistics supports a variety of clients, from big-name brands, to entrepreneurs, to small businesses operating out of the home.

“We’ve been in their shoes over the years and know what it’s like,” Thill says. “Those experiences have helped us develop these unique services and platforms that can help businesses of all sizes, whether large, medium or small. Those same platforms are provided to individuals that are running hundreds of millions of dollars of sales from their kitchen table. It’s a testament to our platforms that they’re able to do that.”

Thill says 2011 can be summed up in one word: expansion. The fulfillment house plans to announce significant enhancements to its analytics capabilities in May at Response Expo 2011, is launching a facility in Atlanta in April, and is restructuring its zonal map to eliminate the most-expensive shipping zones.

“That can equate into saving millions for our clients, not to mention the benefits of getting products into consumers’ hands quickly and at better cost, which contributes to better customer retention,” De La Salle says.

Though Thill Logistics is a family business, it goes beyond the last name — the company’s management team is just as much a part of the family and that mentality extends to the fulfiller’s relationship with its clients, Thill says.

“We treat one another as family, and we take that philosophy to our customers,” Thill says. “We refer to our customers as partners more than customers, because our platforms become such a big part of their business. If our platforms can help them get stronger, bigger and sell more, then it also helps us. It’s a win-win scenario.” ¦

View the video interview online at ResponseMagazine.com or in Response’s March Digital Edition.

The Six "Badges" of Thill Logistics

  1. Thill Fulfillment
    Thill Logistics is one of the largest fulfillment houses in the Midwest, and also operates facilities in California, Canada, Europe and (as of April 2011) Georgia.
  2. Customer Service Direct
    Customer Service Direct specializes in call center solutions and utilizes cutting-edge technology to provide live operator services, E-mail support, live chat and written correspondence.
  3. Call Center Direct
    Call Center Direct is an outbound telecommunications division designed to increase client’s revenue, retrieve lost revenue and enhance their customers’ experience.
  4. Web by Thill
    Web by Thill is a support division for customers looking for the vehicles to enter the E-commerce world, specializing in the integration of shopping cart technology.
  5. Analytics by Thill
    Anayltics by Thill provides data and real-time analytics to its clients, from forecast to buy to incorporating media data with sales data to provide statistics on its impact as well as the influence of charge backs, returns and cancellations.
  6. Consult Direct
    Thill Logistics provides customers with experts to help analyze what the data provided to them really means and how entrepreneurs and companies can use it to improve their overall business model in the future.

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