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Direct Response Marketing

Support Services: Get Ready to Set Scale

1 Apr, 2017 By: Ayal Latz Response


A few years back, you took that leap of faith. You consulted the experts, you developed that perfect pitch, and, voila, you launched. Your product hit the market and you felt like a winning coach anticipating a Gatorade bath.

Fast forward to today: you’ve got yourself a product that’s paying major dividends and business is booming. But now you find yourself facing a new dilemma. You’ve studied your niche and you know all about your customer, but are you prepared to scale the business?

Perhaps you have a high-end, custom-wrapped item that deserves a focused level of detail in regards to preparation or packaging. Maybe your shipping needs aren’t overly complicated, but you have to move 10 times the amount your operation is geared to handle. You might be adding retailers and other sales channels that are now selling your products.

As a direct marketer, are you able to meet and exceed customer expectations while fulfilling custom orders? Are you maintaining customer satisfaction — even during peak selling season?

When marketers have that epiphany for a new product, they often have very manual and customized processes for fulfilling their orders. After all, they are selling a product and not seeking to be experts in storage, shipping, or delivery. Some are handling their fulfillment in house, while others might already be outsourcing to a third-party logistics firm.

If you find yourself maxed out with managing your own operations, or you’re questioning whether your provider has what it takes to help you move to the next level, here are three areas to be mindful of when it comes to scalability.

Labor

If your order fulfillment is in-house and you are overseeing the labor, you’ve already learned a hard lesson on both the value of retention and anticipating the increase in labor. You might even have a temp service on speed dial and family members or friends who refuse to pick up when you call due to your constant requests for help with packing and labeling boxes.

Maybe you already have a fulfillment provider, but you’ve realized they just aren’t able to handle the growing demand. They were perfect when you first started, but their systems and labor are not well suited to handle all the value-added services your product now requires.

No matter what you’re doing, you need to ask yourself: Does my fulfillment operation have the trained staff necessary to scale and meet order demand? Am I accurately anticipating my staffing needs during peak and non-peak seasons?

Space

With the recent boom in e-commerce, demand for warehouse space continues to surge. If you are a direct marketer managing your own fulfillment, you most likely aren’t sitting on a massive warehouse with ample square footage that you leased or purchased “just in case.” Maybe you’re working with a provider that doesn’t have the room or the necessary resources to keep up with your demand. Early on, things were a perfect fit, but you’ve added products, diversified your selling options ­— and you need room to grow.

The point is: you need to be sure you have the space to handle capacity, including peak season. Don’t let your operation outgrow your fulfillment strategy. Don’t find yourself forced to scramble for better options. Your fulfillment operation should have a plan for flexibility in order to meet the demands of your customers.

Versatility

As we’ve said time and again, customer expectations are steadily on the rise. Take some time to evaluate your fulfillment operation and determine that if you were to increase your volume, would you still be able to exceed your customer’s expectations?

Can you process in 24 hours or less? Have you been able to maintain on-time shipping, even during your peak seasons? On the flip side, did you maintain order accuracy within your high-selling season? Finally, with a successful product comes new sales channels: is your fulfillment operation able to quickly and seamlessly integrate with new retailers when it comes to order management?

Fulfillment is a complicated subject. If you’re doing it right, you have specialized systems and labor to effectively get your product out the door — with both speed and accuracy — while maintaining the highest possible level of customer service.

Is all your time spent on mastering labor management, maximizing space, and seeking new and improved programs for getting your product out the door? If the answer is “yes,” then it could be time to consider a change in your operational approach. ■


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