Looking for faster fulfillment

Sep 01, 1998 9:30 PM  By

If you’re one of the 40% or so of catalogers that don’t fulfill catalog requests daily and instead batch your requests for weekly, biweekly, or monthly bulk mail fulfillment (see chart), you’re likely losing sales. It’s only logical: If customers receive catalogs weeks after they’ve requested them, they may have forgotten they asked for the books in the first place.

But several mailers have over the past few years improved their request fulfillment speed-at a fairly low cost-by using catalog fulfillment services from fulfillers such as Quik-Pak and Drop-Ship Express.

Venus Swimwear, Hello Direct, and Bear Creek all use Lafayette, IN-based Quik-Pak. Meanwhile, Genesis Direct, Lew Magram, and Current use Long Lake, MN-based Drop-Ship Express. Both suppliers batch and com-mingle catalogs from the different mailers daily and drop-ship them into destination sectional center facilities (SCFs). From there, the U.S. Postal Service delivers the catalogs locally within a few days.

Quik-Pak president Ed Farrer claims his company can get catalogs delivered within two or three days of when it receives the requests. Drop-Ship Express vice president of national accounts Risa Goldlust says her firm either trucks or flies books into SCFs; the books are delivered within five or 10 days, respectively, of when the company receives the request.

Jacksonville, FL-based apparel cataloger Venus Swimwear, which mails 100,000 catalog requests annually, is spending 25% less than first class postage, according to circulation manager Rich Atlas. When it began with the catalog fulfillment service, Venus saved 20% over first class; “since then, our savings have improved as our fulfillment quantities have increased annually,” he says.

Medford, OR-based catalog conglomerate Bear Creek, which began using QuikPak two years ago, “saves 25-30 cents on each book mailed,” says Glen Beasley, marketing analyst for Bear Creek’s Northwest Express catalog. “For Northwest Express alone, this is a saving of $25,000-$35,000 annually over the cost of first class.”

And Secaucus, NJ-based Genesis Direct mails “hundreds of thousands” of its nearly three dozen titles with Drop-Ship Express, according to the mailer’s vice p resident of marketing, Monica Schulze-Hodges. As a result, Genesis is getting catalogs delivered in four to seven days, she says.

Genesis uses Drop-Ship Express’s pricier air service on 90% of its catalog requests. “Sure, it would be less expensive for us to batch our requests and send them Standard A mail,” Schulze-Hodges says. “But when you take into consideration all the extra time that has elapsed since people have requested your catalog, they don’t want to wait any longer.”