Fulfillment Services – Demystified.

Thysse's Fulfillment Services area in our new location at 780 Cusick Parkway, Oregon, WI

Has someone ever asked you about your fulfillment service needs, and all you can do is return their words with a blank stare? That’s ok, until 2016 we weren’t dabbling much into it either. We’ve done a few posts on it in the past, giving you compelling listicles about decreasing your carrying costs and benefits of a managed inventory partner. Both are still great reference points from a budget perspective. But we wouldn’t be Thysse if we didn’t start sharing more of the “why” and true value behind the service too.

It started as many of our service expansions have, with a customer need, and Thysse’s desire to [ful]fill it. (See what we did there…) We were working through a project estimate with a valued client and offered up a significant per-piece savings if we could produce at a higher volume. They loved the price break opportunity, but posed the all-important point:

“We just don’t need excess inventory on hand.”

Fair argument to make. We went with our instincts, and led as we always have, with trust in our partnerships and value to our clients. Thysse shared a plan outlining storage for overages, a solid distribution schedule before obsolescence, and hit home the benefits of production at volumes that showed significant savings for our client.

This set of conversations planted the seed for how these services can bring greater value to our partners and we went with it in a pretty big way. We started offering solutions to house brands’ inventory at Thysse, allowing them to take advantage of volume printing and reducing their need for on-site storage. This was so successful, we secured space at an additional facility, the North building (named because it was, well, North of our Netherwood facility), and began offering warehouse and distribution services.

But we didn’t stop there. What started with printed materials for one client quickly morphed into custom approaches and ramped up promotional product offerings as well. This included kit-packing unique combinations of printed forms and collateral, as well as offering storage and shipment of employee onboarding swag for firms with remote workforces.

The success of fulfillment’s value was only amplified with our Storefront portals. This is a customized site for each brand, allowing them flexibility to use the platform for inventory monitoring, print on-demand and customization offerings, distribution, and much more. See a more in-depth explanation of Storefront here, you won’t regret it!

When we relocated all of Thysse to our new campus in July of 2020, Fulfillment services got yet another boost. That move was great news for our staff, who is happy to be in a much better lit location with air conditioning, but it’s also critical for meeting our clients’ needs.

We’ve increased storage capacity by 400%, and now have all operations contributing to filling customer projects in one location. This means more shelves to store our partner’s printed and brand assets, and faster turnaround times from order to out-the-door.

The journey to this offering is continually evolving, and that’s an exciting space to be in. We believe in producing quality prints, signage, graphic applications, and promotional products that reflect your brand’s quality. We also understand that having mounds of beautiful pieces at your locations can become cumbersome without a partner to assist with management and distribution.

Before you begin to resent your assets, let’s talk to see if a fulfillment partnership can benefit your company. After all, we’re committed to being where you go with your brand.

For more updates on our services, monthly drawings, and images of our work, follow us on LinkedinFacebook, and/or Instagram!

Crush Your 40% Carrying Costs by Warehousing Print Inventory With Your Printer

A printer’s warehouse services can significantly reduce your inventory carrying costs.

Using a printer’s warehouse services can significantly reduce your inventory carrying costs. 

Maybe you’ve always stored your print assets on site. But is that really the best use of your space, your staff, or your print spend? 

The inventory tracking company Wasp says, “As a rule of thumb, inventory carrying cost is 25% of a company’s average inventory investment, but when you tally up all the relevant carrying costs, it can run as high as 40% or more.”

Below, we’ll take a look at seven ways that storing your print inventory on site could be hurting your performance and costing you way too much. We’ll then explain how a printer’s warehousing capabilities can change that. 

1. Is your office a giant closet or a place for business?

Reduce expensive square footage for storage

With office space at a premium, you want that space devoted to revenue-generating activities as much as possible. Using expensive square footage for storage can quickly become cost-prohibitive. 

Printers with warehouse capabilities have facilities designed with vertical space and pallet racking systems—infrastructure specifically meant to store print materials efficiently. That’s one big reason why storing your inventory at a printer’s warehouse can be much more economical.  

A company could save significantly using a printer's warehouse.

“Of course the numbers will vary,” says Nick Brevik, Thysse Director of Operations, “but if you consider the square footage costs for office space plus the added expenses that can come with a lease, a company could save significantly using a printer’s warehouse.”

Take advantage of high-volume orders.

2. Could you be ordering a lot more—and saving big?

Take advantage of high-volume orders

A lack of inventory space forces you to order smaller quantities. That means you can’t take full advantage of volume pricing for the assets your users depend on most. 

On the other hand, Brevik says by warehousing at your printer’s facilities, you can order more with an eye to your future needs—and save money. “Imagine ordering 5,000 items per month vs. ordering 60,000 for the year. A customer could easily save at least 50% with volume pricing.”

Volume pricing can help you save at least 50%.

Leveraging volume pricing can work especially well for materials like forms, spec sheets, and marketing collateral that rarely gets changed. In fact, when you’re not limited by your own space capacity, you may be in a better position to use alternative pricing approaches like standardized pricing

This approach reduces the need for time-consuming quote hunts. Instead, your printer analyzes your projected print needs to find opportunities for economy-of-scale pricing. They then turn to their suppliers to buy print materials more cost-effectively. The savings are passed on to you in the form of a value-based, standardized price list.

Do you know what you have?

3. Do you know exactly what you have—and have exactly what you need?

Track what you have with precision

If you store your own print inventory, do you know the exact counts for all of your items? You should. Disorganized storage cages, desks stacked with reams of collateral, shelving that makes it hard to see what you have—these things lead to waste, unpleasant out-of-stock surprises, and costly reprints and rush orders. Meanwhile, what’s going on at your other offices?

By keeping printed items at a single warehouse, you can eliminate poor storage practices and transform your inventory tracking system. “More and more printers,” explains Brevik, “now offer a web-based print portal, or storefront, that gives you 24/7 access to knowing exactly what your assets are in real time.” 

This option can help you control your inventory even when it’s not top of mind for you:  

  • Receive scheduled reports automatically
  • Get alerts for low inventory
  • Set inventory marks that trigger reorders

With web-based inventory tracking, you can understand your usage patterns better as well. That empowers you to gauge your future needs more precisely and plan your budgets more accurately.

It can also help reduce inventory obsolescence, which can be critical. Wasp reports, “The potential for inventory obsolescence is the greatest portion of your inventory risk cost within a range of 6-12% of your carrying cost.”

Do you have an easy ordering system?

4. Do you have an easy, reliable ordering system that makes staff happy?   

Create a seamless ordering process

If you house your print materials on site, how much easier does that make ordering? Your users shouldn’t have to endure a cumbersome or unreliable process where their requests can, for example, get stalled because someone was out of the office.   

With the web-based portal option described in #3 coupled with a printer’s warehousing services, Brevik says you can have more peace of mind about your ordering process. “It doesn’t have to hinge on the responsiveness of one or two people.” 

For example, users can log in to your print portal from anywhere, see thumbnails of available print assets, and easily locate what they want. And with the ability for you to establish pre-approval levels, those users can even order instantly. 

Now your print vendor can pull requests right off the shelf and ship your items within days—potentially even hours. (See more on remedying your shipping challenges below.) 

Leave the work to fulfillment experts.

5. Is packing and shipping really the best use of your staff’s time?  

Let fulfillment experts carry the weight

Storing your own print inventory also puts the shipping and handling burden on you. But that may not be the best use of your staff’s time or (again) your office space. And if you’re addressing the needs for multiple offices, events, and campaigns, the situation becomes even more challenging. 

Packing and shipping are the next logical steps in the relationship with your printer.

If you opt for warehousing materials with a printer, the next logical step is to take advantage of their packing and shipping expertise, says Brevik. 

In fact, look for a printer who provides streamlined fulfillment services. They’ll likely have a dedicated fulfillment area—and staff—to handle even the most complicated multi-piece kit requests. In the process you’ll be able to:

  • Have your staff work on higher value tasks
  • Reduce shipping errors
  • Protect your products better thanks to the know-how of packing pros
  • Save money through your printer’s discounted shipping rates 

According to Wasp, handling costs alone can range from 3-8% of your total carrying costs. Outsourcing duties like those can have a profound effect. For example, this case study describes how one company increased its training productivity 3X by outsourcing their fulfillment tasks.

Control your collateral.

6. Are you making it easy to use the current, correct versions?  

Control your collateral like never before

Whether or not you store your own printed materials, you certainly want staff using the right materials. But if you do store on site, are you sure you’ve gotten rid of all the old brochures? Did you remove those forms that were later found to have mistakes?   

And what about staff in other offices? They may find it easier to go rogue with unapproved material that could potentially hurt your brand. 

When you use a printer’s warehouse capabilities and a web-based ordering and tracking system, your managers can filter content and control available versions. “It’s a great way to make sure that, for example, your 50 locations are all using the materials they really should be,” says Brevik.  

That’s because staff—no matter their location—can conveniently get the current, marketing-approved material from one print source. And a bonus: With a single printer, you can minimize color management issues and maintain a stronger brand. 

7. Just how protected is your print inventory?  

Keep your materials safer

If you’re devoting office space to store printed items, how suited is that space to safely store paper materials? 

You may be exposing your print assets to potential water leaks, damp or humid environments, and situations where materials are more prone to getting bent or damaged in some other way. 

A printer's warehouse keeps materials safe.

A printer’s warehouse does more than store and keep track of materials—it keeps them safe. Brevik points out that a warehouse’s specially-designed shelving systems, smart storage protocol, and climate-controlled environment generally mean your printed products are safer offsite.

And in the unlikely event something does happen to them, you’re not the one who pays for reprints.

Is the warehouse option right for you?

Is the warehouse option right for you? 

“Companies typically don’t jump right into a warehousing program with a printer,” says Brevik.  “They need to build up a level of trust.”

And that’s smart. If you think a warehousing option could help your business, ask your printer if they offer such a service. If they do, you should see if you can visit their facilities. Get a firsthand look at how your materials will be stored and handled. 

Using your printer’s warehouse capabilities may feel like you’re giving up some control. But what you could really be doing is creating value and strengthening a partnership for the long term. 

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Cut Waste, Spend Smarter, Free-up Space: 6 Inventory Management Strategies for Your Print Assets

Management Strategies for Your Print Assets

Improving how you manage your print inventory generates advantages that save you space, time, and money—and can actually help your business operate more successfully. So how do you get to that point? These 6 game-changing inventory management strategies will show you the way.

Before we dive in, take a look at what effective inventory management of your print assets can do for you:

  • Prevent out-of-stock surprises
  • Minimize the need for costly back orders
  • Reduce the time and complexity of the ordering process from multiple locations
  • Have a convenient print-on-demand option for complex and ever-evolving kits
  • Take advantage of lower unit-cost purchasing
  • Optimize your long-term print spend economics

Who can resist that? No one with an eye on growth AND the bottom line. So let’s take a look at the inventory management strategies to make it happen.

1. Warehouse your print assets off site to free up business space and take advantage of economy-of-scale pricing

Businesses that are expanding run into space limitations. And when office space is at a premium, sacrificing business square footage for storage purposes is not a cost-effective move. 

Using square footage for storage is not a cost-effective move.

In addition, you can easily lose track of print inventory if you have disorganized storage cages; office desks stacked with reams of collateral; and shelving systems that make it hard to know exactly what you have.

By storing print and related items at your printer’s facilities, you eliminate these poor storage practices. But the bottom line benefits don’t stop there. 

A lack of inventory space forces you to order smaller quantities. That means a higher unit cost and ultimately lower profit margins. 

Storing inventory off site gives you more room, and allows you to take advantage of economy-of-scale pricing for the high-volume assets your users depend on the most.

Pro tip: If you have storage needs beyond print assets, look for a print vendor who will warehouse and ship other items such as your branded gifts and office supplies, and even the equipment you use for trainings, trade shows, and conferences.

2. Leave the distribution and shipping (i.e., order fulfillment) to experts

Taxing your already-busy admin support, grabbing staff from other departments, hiring expensive temps—there’s a better way to assemble your multi-piece kits and handle your overall print fulfillment needs.

Find a print vendor with a streamlined fulfillment system. You’ll do more than spend smarter on labor costs. By having dedicated fulfillment specialists, you’ll greatly reduce shipping errors and possibly even enjoy discounted shipping rates from major carriers.

3. Plan smarter with 24/7 access to an automated inventory tracking system 

Do you know the exact counts on all of your print assets? You should. 

You should know exact counts of all print assets.

Reliably tracking your inventory can prevent unexpected shortages and keep expensive expedited print jobs to a minimum. 

It can also reveal print asset usage patterns, so you can gauge your future needs more precisely, plan your budgets more accurately, and reduce inventory obsolescence. 

So how can you easily know crucial information like this? A web-based print portal can provide 24/7 access to seeing exactly what your assets are in real time. See more on the advantages of a portal for your inventory management below.

4. Allow users to order anywhere, anytime from a single-source web-based portal

A single-source web-based portal combines document control and convenient ordering, with multiple benefits as a result.

Speed up the ordering process

With an online ordering system, users can log in, see thumbnails of available print assets, and easily locate what they’re looking for. And with the ability for you to establish pre-approval levels, those users can order instantly.

Gain faster print turnarounds

Having materials on hand means that when orders come through, your print vendor can pull those requests right off the shelf and ship your items within days—potentially even hours. (See more on shipping in #2.)

Using a single-source print portal eliminates color management mistakes.

Boost brand consistency

A single-source portal keeps your brand strong and consistent across your print assets. How? When users—no matter their location—are ordering from one print source rather than multiple printers, you can eliminate issues such as color management mistakes that degrade the quality of your brand. 

Keep the correct collateral in circulation

Give managers the ability to filter content and control available versions. This allows you to ensure users are ordering and distributing the current (and correct) assets. 

Make print-on-demand requests easily

Sometimes docs are just too fluid to print in bulk. Give selective portal permissions for users to modify materials on the fly and then make on-demand orders in a snap. 

5. Use features of your single-source web portal to help ensure items remain in stock

Managing your inventory also means taking advantage of features like the following that keep you informed of your stock, even when it’s not top of mind for you:  

  • Receive scheduled reports automatically
  • Get alerts for low inventory
  • Set inventory marks that trigger reorders

6. Integrate smarter long-term spending into inventory management with standardized pricing

You need more than helpful technology. 

You need a print vendor who will dig into the economics of your print spend.

In fact, consider a print vendor who will work with you to develop a standardized pricing list that reflects your projected print needs. With this option, economy-of-scale pricing is just the beginning of the advantages.  

A standardized pricing list is a good idea.

You can stop the time-consuming hunt for multiple quotes and actually price a project yourself. You can also forecast your spend confidently and deliver budget information to management almost immediately.

These six strategies represent more than just print inventory management. They’re an opportunity to transform your print spend, and ensure your print-related decisions ultimately help your business run better. 

If you want to learn more about how Thysse can help you improve your print inventory management, contact us.

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