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.
“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.”
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.”
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.
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.”
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.)
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.
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.
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 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?
“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.