Publisher’s Note: Fulfilling Our Promises

Dec 14, 2011 10:30 PM  By

Holiday shopping is in full swing, and businesses are placing those budget-sensitive end-of-year orders, causing marketers to battle it out until the bitter end, using every online and offline channel and tactic they have to spike sales.

But at this time of year, the true superheroes of the season may well be the operations and fulfillment folks.

I thought of the operations supermen and superwomen as I toured the FedEx Worldwide Hub in Memphis right before Thanksgiving. In the two hours that I was there one night, more than a million parcels flew in and out of the most astonishing logistical labyrinth imaginable. (See more about my visit at www.multichannelmerchant.com.)

As I watched those FedEx planes stacking up in the midnight sky, I was reminded that shoppers getting their desires met quickly and easily is what this business is built on. There are a lot of trusting people believing in, and counting on, our operations and fulfillment superheroes. For the most part, however, they aren’t even aware of them.

The channels and marketing tools that we all rely on to move our products — web, catalog, direct mail, TV, online and print advertising, text messaging, search, affiliate marketing, PR, email, social media, comparison shopping, online marketplaces (the list is endless) — promise to get “it” there fast. And far more often than not, products from the pick-and-pack hubbub of a warehouse in Texas, a hangar in Memphis or a storeroom in Maine make it safely, almost seamlessly, to someone’s home. The fulfillment folks not only make it look easy, they make it all but invisible.

Somewhere around 1 a.m. at FedEx, I made the decision to launch a new kind of conference and awards program for direct-to-customer operations people. Email me at ellen.shannon@penton.com for details about Operations Summit.

Mark your calendars for May 2-3

We are holding the Summit right in Memphis (where else?), where some lucky conference goers will get to tour the FedEx Worldwide Hub and see how other direct-to-customer distribution centers work.